‘Army of Two’ squanders


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“It’s good to play together,” as the saying goes. Strange, then, that it has taken this long for a big name developer to build an entire game around that concept.

Is it too much to ask that the game be done well, though?

The underlying concepts behind “Army of Two” have great potential, but they aren’t quite fully realized in the final version.EA definitely attempts to emulate the buddy cop film vibe with “Army of Two.”

Just replace the cops with mercenaries working for private military contractors.

Two tough guys (Rios and Salem) do a damn good job of killing people. It’s a high-paying job, as long as there’s a war going on to provide contracts.

Likening “Army of Two” to “Gears of War” should paint a pretty accurate picture of its gameplay. Some of the controls feel more awkward than they should, unfortunately. Melee attacks are canned animations that require you to be standing right next to an enemy before initiating.

The game also lacks any sort of sprint button, making the standard walking speed a fairly annoying method of travel.

Also like “Gears,” two-player co-operative play for the campaign is a huge selling point. In this case, however, having a partner (whether controlled by AI or a human) is required to progress. Things like hitting two switches at once, giving the other guy a boost up to ledge and pulling up the guy who just boosted you are all two-man jobs.

Herein lies “Army of Two’s” greatest shortcoming: the controlled and planned-out nature of the co-op moments. Playing shooters alongside a friend usually offers great unpredictable and improvised moments.

Everything about the co-op gameplay in “Army of Two” ­— the co-op sniping, the back-to-back shooting, the two-man parachute are merely scripted events waiting to be triggered. It feels completely artificial.

The way these two guys interact with each other on screen also feels way too forced.

You can walk up to your partner, then hit “A” to “show approval” or right trigger to do just the opposite. After seeing the same air guitar and head butt animations for the fifth time, however, the novelty wears off rather quickly.

Most of “Army of Two” feels unfinished or otherwise unpolished. The greatest culprit? The GPS system that shows you exactly where you need to go by painting arrows on the ground and highlighting objectives.

Still, such a feature is necessary since the environments are so bland that you’d get lost otherwise. It’s a quick fix for the poor-level design, a Band-Aid on a gaping wound.Weapon customization adds something to the gameplay, but like the rest of the game, it’s mostly superficial. Each weapon only includes one or two optional premade attachments in categories like barrel, magazine and grip.

There’s some comedic novelty to the customization (Attaching a shotgun barrel to a sniper rifle? Sweet!), and the upgrades certainly help in battle, but a lot of potential for personalizing weapons into truly unique items goes left untapped.Multiplayer is nothing to write home about, either. The two-man tandem gimmick translates to this mode as well, but most of the objectives are unclear, and a lot of firefights degrade into awkward circle-strafing.

So what we’re left with is a lot of great ideas thrown together without any cohesive force tying them together. At least it’s pretty to look at ... sometimes. EA ultimately failed to capitalize on the potential for a shooter driven by co-op, and “Army of Two” ends up being a forgettable experience that would have benefited from a more thorough polish job.

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