In the present day, a large number of released games are shooters, whether they are 1st person shooters or 3rd person. Also, with Xbox Live is becoming more and more popular, the multiplayer component of console titles became a big part of it, especially on the Xbox 360 games. As a side effect of the multiplayer popularization, the gaming scene saw the rebirth of a game type almost forgotten – cooperative gameplay. Gears of War was the first next-gen title that showed everyone the huge unexploited potential, and many publishers followed Epic Games’ example. Among them is Electronic Arts, which has come up with a 3rd person shooter designed from the ground-up for cooperative gameplay: Army of Two.
The protagonists of the story are Elliot Salem and Tyson Rios. At the start of the game, in 1993, they are both part of the US Army Rangers. However, seeing the huge winnings opportunity of the private sector, they offer their services as mercenaries for the Security and Strategy Corporation (SSC). Coordinated by Colonel Richard Dalton, the two accomplish a series of missions around the world in different war zones, being rewarded accordingly in cash. But along the way, Rios starts to notice that a big number of leaked secrets are coinciding with their missions. And although skeptical at first, Salem accepts the situation, and they start a journey to uncover the truth. The game takes place in different areas around the Globe, ranging from the dusty building in Somalia to sunny Miami, but even if the locations are varied, the game tends to become repetitive. Call of Duty 4’s short campaign can be excused through the big dose of adrenaline inducted and a great variety. Army of Two’s short campaign however is very repetitive, and even a little boring towards the end.
Although Army of Two is a shooter, the deadliest weapon is not a machine gun or a shotgun, but a game mechanic called Aggro, until now found mostly in MMORPGs. Aggro is the level of attention the enemies give you or your partner. Aggro is represented by a bar at the top of the screen, with each of its ends representing one of the two characters. Depending on the situation, a pendulum swings from one side to another. So, if you wield the biggest assault rifle in your arsenal and empty a full clip towards the enemy, all their bullets will take your direction. The good part about this is that your partner becomes almost invisible while you’re being shot to sunshine. This way, flanking maneuvers are very easy to accomplish.
Completing the campaign with an AI partner requires you to control him with direct commands: move up, hold position and follow. Each command can be done in two ways: aggressive and passive. Much of the time, the AI will successfully accomplish all the commands that are given to him, but sometimes, inevitably, he will fail miserably. A disappointing thing is that two of the direct interactions between the protagonists are underused: co-op snipe and switching weapons.
With the help of co-op sniping, two enemies (usually guards) can be killed simultaneously. Unfortunately, this ability will only be used a maximum of 3 time throughout the game. As for switching weapons, its usefulness is equal to zero, when playing with the AI, as the weapons it buys are among the weakest. On the other hand, you can use some direct interactions between the two characters. The interactions vary from slapping your friend over the head or applying a punch to his stomach in the case of accidental shooting, or, he’s done something cool, you can perform even air guitar solos and congratulate him.