LightStixx’s Review: Army of Two (PS3)

Hi all, it’s been a while since I posted a review. Now it’s time for another review, but this time, it’s some love for the Sony Playstation 3! Finally! Without further ado…

Ao2 CoverLightStixx’s review for Sony Playstation 3 game: Army of Two

Release date: 4th March 2008 (I know I’m kinda late for this)

Price: US$64.90 on play-asia (probably cheaper elsewhere)

Sales: 225k as of March 2008 [NPD] – PS3
600k as of March 2008 [NPD] – XBox360

Platform: Playstation 3

IGN Review Score: 7.9

My scores:

Gameplay: 8.0
Story: 7.5
Fun-level: 9.0
Graphics: 9.0
Music: 8.0
Replayability: 7.0
Online quality: 7.0
Overall score: 8.0

Let’s break this down.

Disclaimer: I do not own a PS3 nor do I own Army of Two, this was played with a friend a his house, on his PS3. All content mentioned is for 2P mode only. Actual content (online and replayability) may differ slightly from my review.

Spoiler alert: This story is quite good, so I will try my best not to divulge details of the story so as not to spoil the fun. However, I may overlook certain points. Hope you can bear with me. This applies to the entire expanse of this review.

Introduction

Army of Two is the revolutionary third person shooter from EA games which focuses a lot on co-operation and teamwork to complete the missions. The story and gameplay allows for plenty of player-environment and player-player interaction. So let’s get on with it.

Story

Army of Two is a third person shooter where you play the roles of Tyson Rios and Elliot Salem, mercenaries who work under a company called SSC. You will go through a few missions then find out that you’ve been framed! So with the help of Alice Murray (your assignment manager) and s3kshun8 (your hacker accomplice) you dive into the deep end to uncover some dirty secrets, seeking to expose them and prove your innocence.

Gameplay

First, let’s start with the controls. Like any other PS3 shooter, the controls are very similar. Left analog is movement, whereas right analog is aim and R2 is shoot. There will be plenty of times when players would need to interact with the environment to plant bombs, or pick up people. This is usually done with the X button. Personally, I’m not very proficient with the PS3 aiming, so I tend to suck while firing on the move. Fortunately, there is a melee attack whenever you’re near to the enemy which is usually 1 Hit KO (not applicable to bosses and enemies in later stages).

Melee them if you’re nearby. Don’t waste time and bullets.

Along the way, you’d be able to interact with each other and with the environment in many ways. You could praise your partner for something he did, or turn aggressive against him for screwing up. Another example, you’d be able to pull a door off a car and use it as a shield. Then your partner will be able to join up behind you to provide cover fire. This way both of you are protected from enemy fire.

Hold up a shield and join up, then advance feeling slightly safer.

Like most shooters, you’d be blasting many people all over the place. However, unlike most shooters, this game doesn’t feature a health bar. Instead, your screen will turn red when you’re about to die or collapse. If you just stay still and rest for a while, your screen will return to normal and you’d be back in action. Good for people who tend to die often, but it’s really quite unrealistic. When you finally collapse, your screen would turn blurry and you’d call out to your buddy. Basically, he’ll need to fix you up before you pass out and pass away. In the meantime, you’d still be able to shoot.

Healing is a funny thing. You’ll need to drag your friend to a safe spot and heal by holding X. This would usually take about 4 seconds. If the “healer” gets shot while healing, then you’ll need to start from scratch. Fortunately, while the “healer” is healing, the victim can still fire at the enemies to provide cover fire. Co-operation is definitely required for this game. Most importantly, mission failed if one person passes out.

Drag your buddy to safety to heal him.

As Tyson or Elliot, you’d be equipped with 3 weapons. Your primary weapon (usually a semi-automatic rifle), your secondary weapon (usually a pistol or sub-machine gun) and your special weapon (usually a sniper rifle). These weapons are easily interswitched and there’s plenty of primary and secondary ammo strewn all over each level for your collection (in normal mode), although it does tend to become more scarce in later levels.

Each of your weapons can be upgraded, swapped for a different model, or even “zhng-ed”. There is a wide selection of primary weapons ranging from the world renown M4 Carbine to close combat shotgun. Secondary weapons range from the powerful .45 Magnum to the reliable MP5. Special weapons range from the super sick 0.5” Sniper rifle to the terrorist favourite RPG. Each of which could be upgraded with stocks, grips, barrels, cartridges, silencers and other accessories to make it more accurate, deal more damage or hold more rounds. Each of these upgrades will cost you money, which you will earn as you carry out missions.

Weapons galore. From right to left: GPMG MP5, RPG, unknown weapon.

Now let me introduce the Aggro. Most gamers should know what’s aggro (short for aggressive). This game relies a lot on building and maintaining aggro in order to attract attention. Of the two man team, one shall aggro, the other shall chiong (or flank or snipe). Basically, attract their attention to one place and attack them from their backside. There’s an aggro meter which allows you to check who has the majority aggro. Aggro is governed by rate of fire (with respect to your partner) and the weapon that you’re using. As you can imagine, a GPMG would have more aggro than a pistol.

Well, my friend was using GPMG with pistol and I was using Felin semi-automatic rifle with MP5 (both my weapons are silenced to reduce aggro). So he aggro, I chiong. This tactic worked fine for us and we didn’t change our weapons for a long time. As the aggro builds, there would come a point when aggro is maxed. This would allow for “overkill mode”, which slows down time for 15 seconds but our movement becomes faster. The aggro will be unable to duck, but the partner will have the liberty to chiong quite a few idiots in 15 seconds. Very useful skill in the game.

Next up is co-op snipe. As the name implies, both of you are required to snipe down two different targets simultaneously (such as guards). Either way, both of you will enter the sniping screen together and a countdown will begin as soon as you’re ready. It’s a good way to prevent entering a gunfight straight away, allowing you to gain some ground prior to the gunfight.

As you progress, you’d come across vehicles which require one player to drive and the other to man the turret. As your hovercraft has limited health as well, it is of utmost importance to destroy your enemy before they hurt your craft. Both players need steady hands for this as the waters are seldom calm and there would usually be a chase going on. One of the most irritating parts of the game.

The tank is another vehicle that you’d be able to operate. Boom boom. Hahaha..

Lastly, parachuting. As a two man army, you’d sometimes be deployed via airdrop. So one player will need to control the parachute, while the other snipes the idiots shooting at your from the ground. This is the only application of the Six-Axis motion detection in the game. The parachute is controlled using the tilting of the Six-Axis controller. I find this quite refreshing from the usual analog stick controls of most PS3 games.

The next extreme sport: Para-sniping.

Fun Factor

I had plenty of fun on Ao2 because we were shouting at each other for backup and healing. Scolding each other when we died and all that nonsense. I would believe that this game would be much more monotonous if played alone with AI.

Difficulty levels at normal mode made us a little bit irritated because of our poor aiming ability. Coupled with our inability to comprehend some of the instructions given by the staff in the game (Alice and s3kshun8). Note that it’s very important to listen to Alice during the mission brief, important information is usually given during that time.

Graphics & Music

PS3 graphics, need I say more? Cinematics are amazing. Although some characters don’t look that alive.

Music is good, but usually blocked out by gunfire and our shouting.

Minigames & Unlockables

No minigames. However, one of the loading pages stated that completing the game once would unlock more weapons. To be confirmed when I finish the game with him (at the last area already).

Replayability

Replayability in story mode is low, unless playing with a new partner. However, online mode provides more replayability.

Online Play

Disclaimer: I’ve on played one mode. I’m unsure if there are other modes. Apologies for this.

Four random people will join the game and compete with each other to achieve the same objectives. Upon completion of one objective, the another objective will pop up until time is up. Along the way, you could kill your opponents to score more points. Online points cannot be brought into your offline game to purchase weapons.

Online play does well in utilising the PSN’s large user base to bring replayability to this title.

What I like

  • Focus on co-operation (good 2P gameplay)

  • Beautiful graphics

  • High customization of suits and weapons

What I don’t like

  • Repetitive tactics after a while

  • Unbelievable difficulty increments (probably due to adaptive AI and our repetitive tactics)

  • Easy to find players to play with online

Overall

Overall, I believe that this game is a good addition to the shooters available for the PS3 because of it’s unique focus on co-operation and teamwork. This is a great game for 2P fun, especially if two of you are physically next to each other. I shall not comment on 1P mode since I’ve only been player 2.

Special Thanks

Special thanks to Jimmy for inviting me to play Ao2 with you (even though I was the one who psycho you to get the game) =p
And Jimmy’s family for bearing with me while we were playing

Legal Stuff

Pictures from IGN.com

Cheers,
LightStixx

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