Army of Two: The 40th Day Review

By Brian Leahy - Posted Jan 14, 2010

The PSP port of EA's Army of Two: The 40th Day is nothing like its next-gen counterpart. The gameplay is wildly different, but the basic elements of the franchise are in place. Does it make for a fun game, though?

The Pros
  • The Environments Look Good
  • It's Over Quickly
The Cons
  • Useless AI Partner Makes Some Sections Unplayable
  • Gameplay Doesn't Evolve At All
  • Moral Choices Have No Impact On Gameplay
  • Buggy and Feels Unfinished

The PSP port of EA’s Army of Two: The 40th Day is nothing like its next-gen counterpart. The gameplay is wildly different, but the basic elements of the franchise are in place. Does it make for a fun game, though?

Army of Two: The 40th Day PSP
A Port Unlike Any Other
Every once in a while, you pick up a game that just feels unfinished. There are framerate drops, game-breaking AI problems, and artwork that looks like placeholder assets. Unfortunately, the PSP version of Army of Two: The 40th Day is one of those titles.
In essence, the story from the next-gen version of the game is intact, albeit truncated. Salem and Rios are in Shanghai as the city collapses around them, but that actual plot is barely explored in the PSP version. The moral choices, which force you to choose between something wholly good or extremely evil, made the transition to the PSP, but they don’t have any real gameplay consequences. Some of the choices will give you cash, which can be used to purchase and upgrade weapons, but others just occur just to have something happen.

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Like A Game From 1992, And Is About As Advanced

Instead of playing as a 3rd person shooter, which can work on the PSP (just look at Resistance: Retribution, Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror, or the upcoming Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker), the game is an isometric arcade-style shooter. You’ll move with the analog stick and shoot using the face buttons. Triangle shoots up, Circle shoots right, and so forth. Combining them will shoot diagonally and there is a hefty amount of target lock-on. Unfortunately, it rarely functions as you would expect and prioritizing targets is never an option. You will shoot where the game decides.
Your AI-controlled partner in 40th Day is abysmal, useless and game breaking in certain areas. You are able to set your partner to passive or aggressive and have him hold position or follow you. Whether or not these commands actually work is a crapshoot at any given time during the gameplay. The AI will often get stuck on some geometry and completely stop shooting at enemies, regardless of what setting he’s on. The only way to get him unstuck is for you to die, forcing him to approach and revive you. The only use you’ll get out of your partner is as a decoy for enemy fire to fill your “aggro” meter.

The AI also seems incapable of avoiding danger and he is never aware of incoming fire. One boss battle enters a phase where a large cannon on top of a tank can kill you with one shot. Your AI partner will die because of it…every time. Incoming mortar fire? The AI will gladly stand beneath it, welcoming the shells with open arms. Set your partner to aggressive and he will open fire on enemies, but emerge from cover and quickly die. My favorite is when the AI will move of his own accord, despite being commanded to hold position.

Army of Two: The 40th Day PSP

Play Game For 15 Minutes, Multiply By 10: You’ve Played The Whole Game

If you play this game for 15 minutes, you’ve already played the entire game. At no point does the gameplay evolve in any interesting way. Army of Two staples like the aggro meter are technically missing, even though the game does “use” the aggro system by giving either character a reddish hue when enemy attention is on him, or bluish when it’s on the partner. Most of the levels reuse rooms and art. Mini-Horde mode sections artificially extend the gameplay even though every room plays like a one-wave horde mode. Bosses consist of fighting and re-fighting a helicopter, harrier, APC, or heavy weapons guy. If you’re lucky, your AI partner will get stuck somewhere where he can’t be hit by enemy fire!

Cover is nearly useless as enemies can usually hit you even when you duck behind an obstacle. Halfway through the game, enemies get upgraded and carry laser guns (yes, laser guns) and rocket launchers. It’s at this point when you realize that you’re going to take damage--a lot of it. Your only chance is to constantly roll, which makes you temporarily immune to damage, but prevents you from fighting back. Usually, while trying to dodge three sets of incoming rockets, your partner will decide he doesn’t want to live anymore. At that point, it’s time to try and kill all of the enemies so you can revive him before you die as well. If you happen to be up against a heavy weapons soldier that requires flanking to kill, be prepared to attempt the fight at least five times before succeeding. Toward the end of the game, your success relies entirely on random health drops that some enemies will graciously give you upon death.

Army of Two: The 40th Day PSP

If You Actually Find Someone Else With This Game...

The game does include a multiplayer mode via ad hoc network, but that would require tricking someone else into wasting his or her money on this game. If you actually find someone to play with, it makes the game slightly bearable because no human is as brain-dead as the AI in this game. Unfortunately, the core experience of the game is so flawed that adding more players doesn’t do anything to remedy the experience. The only improvement is, you’ll both be bored and frustrated together. To make matters worse, only the host will gain money and have access to his or her weapon unlocks. The joining player is just along for the ride.
Is It Too Late To Start The PSP Port?

The PSP version Army of Two: The 40th Day feels like a rush job. If Buzz Monkey Software actually did have the same time to work on this as the main team at Electronic Arts did for the console versions, I would be very scared. There is next to nothing redeeming about this title and it doesn’t even begin to approach a level of quality you’d expect for a game carrying a major franchise name. If you’re looking for a shooter on the PSP, I highly suggest looking elsewhere.