Army of Two – PS3 review

3.5 out of 5
£35

For

Multi-player is a mass of fun, easy to get your team mate to do what you wish

Against

Short campaign, dull aesthetics, uninspiring level design

Essentially built around co-operative play, Army of Two is one for those that long for the days when co-op titles were ten a penny across all formats.

In this modern online age, such titles have the ability to be adored worldwide, even by gamers who don’t find themselves living in a particularly gaming-friendly part of town.

A third-person shooter at its base, Army of Two has all of the hallmarks of a classic. It’s got the gorgeous looks, the powerful weaponry, and the potentially inflammatory storyline that could very well see it uttered about in the mainstream press.

As a single-player experience, you still maintain the co-operative play that’s blatantly the game's big selling point. You choose one of the two playable characters - Salem or Rios, one a gruff scarred veteran, the other a floppy haired good-looking type – and look ahead to enjoying the financial joys of the mercenary lifestyle.

Out in the field of battle, you’ll need to make firm use of your compatriot if you wish to push on and kill a few more thousand bad guys. Utilising what the game's developers call the "Aggro" system, you can prompt your fellow fighter to spray fire upon the upcoming enemies, urging those pesky bad folks to aim their fire directly on your team mate. Leaving you perfectly free to casually slink off to the side of the action and pick off your opponent with dazzling ease.

Sadly Army of Two neglects to include a cover system akin to the likes of Gears of War or Rainbow Six Vegas, which is a huge shame.

It’s a method utilised to great effect in the brilliant Brothers In Arms series, and one that again works considerably well for the duration of Army of Two.

Admittedly the tactical brain power you’ll be required to wield doesn’t drift too far from the above simple example, though different abled enemies do add a little spice as you progress through the game's fairly short campaign.

Sadly not all is absolutely rosy when playing all on your lonesome. Though considerable time has obviously been spent on encouraging your AI team mate to perform the actions you’d expect, a few strange anomalies will appear from time to time.

At times they’ll neglect to revive you once a few shots take you down, even to the extent of dragging you halfway across the level before taking the time to bring you back to life.

Add a fellow real world gamer to the mix and the enjoyment levels ramp up considerably. Though it takes time to learn the nuances of the enemy AI, and the abilities of your team mate, simply being able to rush through the game side by side, confusing enemies, and providing covering fire when needed is a source of real fun.

The campaign itself, which you run through in both single and multi player modes is a touch on the short side. Standing at around 6-8 hours of gaming, it won’t take more than a solid weekend before you’ve experienced everything the game has to offer.

Despite its length, there’s no essence of real design flair either. Levels are restricted to blatant corridors of fire, with obvious points slipped in for flanking manoeuvres. It’s enjoyable when you do overcome a powerful enemy, but it certainly leaves you feeling as if you completed a specifically designed task, rather than having the freedom to beat it as you dearly wished.

The drabness of the levels continues with the visual design, which yet again is solid yet unspectacular. Thankfully the characters are a step above the norm with some cracking pieces of animation and realistic looking tumbles.

Verdict

While the single-player action may be solid, it's only during multi-player where the real enjoyment starts. A few dodgy bouts of AI action, and some strange foes towards the end of the campaign brings things down a touch, but Army of Two is wonderfully solid when played by two like-minded gamers.

If it had been a touch longer, and had a hint more tactical variety, then we could have had a sure fire multi-player classic.

Instead, Army of Two is remarkably solid but sadly uninspiring.