hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Destructoid review: Army of Two

8:53 PM on 03.08.2008 // Anthony Burch


Why aren't there more co-op games? Why are so many modern titles focused either on only singleplayer campaigns and multiplayer deathmatches, with multiplayer co-op often acting as nothing more than an afterthought? The act of going through an entire campaign with the help of a close friend or online stranger can, in theory, combine the best aspects of both single- and multiplayer modes; the player still gets an interesting story and level design catered specifically for the players' enjoyment, but with all the fun social networking that a pleasant multiplayer game can afford (when played with friends, that is).

Because of this, I was reasonably excited for Army of Two. This third-person shooter was built from the ground up with cooperative multiplayer in mind, and only cooperative multiplayer in mind. Many other reviewers have docked points from the game's score simply because the singleplayer is bland, but that's not the goddamn point. Army of Two is a multiplayer cooperative game, and should only be played or judged as a multiplayer cooperative game. 

Still, though, does Army of Two succeed in what it sets out to do? Does it craft a fun, engaging cooperative experience in which teamwork is required rather than a gimmick?


Army of Two (XBox 360 reviewed, PS3)
Developed by EA Montreal
Published by EA
Released on March 4, 2008

Army of Two is built on a really cute idea: design an entirely cooperative campaign where the two players are forced to symbiotically rely on one another at every turn, and wrap it around an intensely relevant story about private military groups and the commodification of war. 

Shame that it isn't very good

Without getting into the moral or political implications of the story -- that's for another day-- Army of Two's narrative is awfully boring considering the nature of the premise. Given all the horrible things we've heard about Blackwater from CNN and NBC over the past few months, one would expect Army of Two to make profound, disturbing, or at least mildly interesting statements about the privatization of the military. Instead, the game treats the premise as nothing more than an excuse for contemporary, globe-spanning warfare. I'd have been willing to accept the overall dullness of the plot were it not for the facts that every "twist" is telegraphed at least five missions in advance, both protagonists have exactly two character traits ("badass" and "compassionate" or "badass" and "selfish"), and the final boss is killed in a friggin' cut scene. And I don't mean you shoot him a bunch of times, only to watch him fall to his death or something in a noninteractive cut scene. I mean you don't even get to fight him at all. You run to the last area, and the game essentially beats the boss for you. Seriously.


But story aside, is the co-op gameplay any good? Well, yes and no -- mostly, no.

Starting with the good, the guys at EA Montreal did a nice job of sprinkling a few moments throughout the campaign where both players are forced to completely rely on each other. For example, several times players will find themselves floating to the ground on a parachute; one player will control the direction of the parachute, while the other shoots at enemies below with a sniper rifle. Even cooler is the scripted Back to Back mode, where both players stand facing away from one another and must blow away dozens of surrounding enemies in slow-mo.

In moments like these, players must cooperate with each other to survive: if the gunner doesn't tell the parachute controller where to move and when, they'll get cut down by gunfire, and if the players in Back to Back don't cover their own areas, then a stray suicide bomber might vey well blow the duo to kingdom come.

Indeed, Army of Two's best moments can be found in these scripted co-op setpieces; they channel the intrinsic fun of playing with a buddy by forcing co-dependence. At times, Army of Two feels like exactly what it should: a fun, cooperative experience.

Additionally, Army of Two has some pretty clever mechanics of its own. The visual aggro system is really helpful and interesting (an "aggrometer" at the top of the screen tracks who is drawing the most fire, while the most aggro-heavy player glows bright red), and the fact that objective completion earns players money which can then be spent on weapon upgrades adds a sense of persistent progress to the campaign. These mechanics feel fresh, fun, and mildly innovative.

It's just that everything else about Army of Two's campaign kind of blows.


Most notably, the controls are abysmal. The pause menu only allows three freelook sensitivity settings instead of a slider, and even on the highest setting the controls are still sluggish as heck. There's a definite delay between the time a player turns in a direction and when their onscreen avatar actually begins to move -- given the high-octane nature of the game, this is almost totally inexcusable.

Not only are the slow aiming controls simply irritating on a surface level, but they make the guns far less useful. In the later levels of the game, as enemies stream from multiple directions simultaneously, I actually found it much easier and more effective to run straight at the baddies and melee them to death, thanks to a one-hit-kill physical attack mechanic. I don't begrudge EA Montreal for including the melee mechanic, but it has to be said: if your aiming system sucks so much that running directly into a hail of gunfire is a more strategically viable option that shooting at enemies from a medium distance, then your control scheme has some serious problems.

Better controls might have saved the campaign which, while it includes the aforementioned clever co-op moments, generally feels like a crappy Gears of War clone. From the hilariously beefy protagonists, to the bleed-out system, to the enemies who can take up to half a clip of bullets before dropping dead, the non-scripted aspects of Army of Two's campaign don't do anything that Gears of War's co-op campaign didn't do much, much better and much, much earlier. I don't fault Army of Two for being derivative of Gears of War; I fault it for being derivative and boring, with awful controls. Hell, cooperation isn't even necessary given how many bullets each soldier can take; once you get over the novelty of boosting your buddy up over a fence so he can snipe at baddies on the other side, you'll find the story mode irritatingly dull.

The co-op campaign itself is awfully short (I completed it in about six or seven hours), but this isn't necessarily a bad thing; the game already begins to wear out its welcome once the final level rolls around, and a few extra hours of repetitive playtime wouldn't necessarily have helped matters. 


With an alternately original and irritating co-op campaign, one might assume the Versus multiplayer to fall into that same trap nearly all supposedly "next-gen" games do, where developers take the character models from the main game, plop them into deathmatch and CTF modes, and call it a multiplayer experience. Oddly -- and pleasantly -- this isn't the case in Army of Two. There's only one versus mode, but it's a real doozy. Up to four players, two on each team, fight on reasonably large maps wherein they complete objectives and earn money, which can then be used to purchase new weapons and gear.

A typical versus map won't just have one or two objectives, but around a dozen: players will race to one end of the map to blow up a fuel tank, then suddenly find themselves escorting an unarmed hostage to a helipad, then afterward rushing to kill a specific NPC. That's right -- in addition to the four human players, each versus map is populated with dozens of easier-to-kill NPCs who constantly keep all players on their toes and actually do a damn good job in replicating the feel of the regular co-op campaign. The controls still suck, of course, but the varied objectives, upgrade mechanics, and numerous NPCs make the versus mode a much more entertaining and substantial experience than I ever would have imagined.

Overall, Army of Two has many good ideas but ultimately falls flat on its promise. It's got some fun moments of cooperativity, some clever mechanics, and an unusually badass multiplayer mode, but its horrible controls and vanilla campaign mode prevent Army of Two from being even an above-average game. 

Score: 4.5


 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
I recently beat Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow again, but this time I played on Hard mode from scratch. Outside of dying a few times due to me being an idiot, and enemies hitting harder, it was actually easy. Like really easy.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Today I replated bacteria that I made take up a plamid hopefully stitched onto the genes generatlight. Taken from other dead bacteria and put into a non glowing species, to make it glow. Fucking microbiology is the best.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
It seems fairy farts are a fragrance, a soap, incense, a vaping liquid and a kind of nail polish. I'm clearly in the wrong line of work and need to eat more chili.
Cannibal Steven avatarCannibal Steven
"You gave the Lost Soul a big smile, like you remember she likes to do... For some reason she sort of wants to smile back..." I'm not crying. Not one bit.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Just tried 'The Last Of Us' on PSNow Trial, only to be told... 'Something went wrong. Try again.' Game-appropriate error message or quickie plot-summary?
TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
I hate when people say crap like "I admit that [thing] in games is problematic, but I still enjoy it" because it's an underhanded way of contradicting your own views while convincing yourself that you aren't a hypocrite.
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
Well shit. I knew I was more than likely going to enjoy Star Wars Battlefront (cause you know, giant Star Wars nerd and all) but holy cow, the beta is fucking great! I need the full game like, now.
SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
Anyone here going to NYC Comic Con? Always wanted to go and lived so close, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.
Mark Plechaty avatarMark Plechaty
Well I haven't seen any levels like this on mario maker so maybe it's unique the I'd is 55BD000000961CBA GIVE IT A GO and let me know what you think
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Hey Stranger ... wadda you buying ? Want some crack ? Here ya go... [youtube][/youtube]
Sr Churros avatarSr Churros
My brother caught me this Pokémon in our room yesterday. How should I name it? [img][/img]
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Yay, I got off of work early and may have Friday off! I have a sinking feeling I'm going to work 10 hours on Saturday as a result, though :/ We ran out of stuff to make stuff with so they must ship us stuff so we can ship stuff.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Yo yo I'm Marie and I got dat gangsta flow. High scores ain't no trip, cuz I whip that shit like Sonic quick. I-I mean no! I didn't say anything! Stupidrecordbreakingcombodolt. [img][/img]
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
I'm watching you.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
SkarKrow avatarSkarKrow
Work noooooooooooooooooo D:
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
I had such a awkward time playing Catherine because it shared the same name as my mother....
JayDGee avatarJayDGee
Broforce is coming out of early access on the 15th. I had no Idea it was an early access game.
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
I have now played all 3 Witcher games. My verdict: Witcher 1 - alright, aged badly, lots of sex. Witcher 2 - good, very short, not much sex at all. Witcher 3 - Excellent in every way.
ikiryou avatarikiryou
I really wish MGO had been implemented with free-roam gameplay PMC (clan) setup instead of the standard matchmaking. Imagine roaming bands of PMC's opposing each other on the battlefield. How sexy would that be?
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -