Army of Two: the 40th Day - Retro Reflection

Army of Two: the 40th Day by developer EA Montreal, Zynga Eugene and publisher Electronic Arts—PSP retro reflection review written by Hamza. 2010.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

The 40th Day is far from perfect. What was a mixed feelings third-person shooter on the console is a confused feelings top-down third-person shooter on the handheld. But I would be lying if I were to say it wasn’t enjoyable. Granted, it does lack in the heavy, but the exceptionally good voice acting, bright and fresh graphics, exhilarating boss battles and two wise-crackin mercs with ballistic masks makes The 40th Day a fun game to go through at least once; but even so, the game is a one-trick pony at heart.

Before I continue further, I want to say the morality system has me worried. I’m all fine with the game giving me an option to choose – but most of the consequences had me awake half the night, and very few games have made me feel like this. All the time I kept thinking to myself, what could have been the alternative? Would it have been any better or much worse? But no matter what choices I made, what re-thinking I applied, it seemed I always took the wrong step. I have never played a game where you’re left depressed instead of elated. And the funny part is, The 40th Day wasn’t supposed to be one. Now Limbo is a depressive game (from a complimentary point of view), but it leaves the gamer contemplating more than anything else. The 40th Day was supposed to be about two monkeys with barrels taking everyone out and feeling mighty proud of it.

Though the morality option appears only sporadically, the after effects are powerful, felt strongly by the player, since the gameplay itself suffers only slightly. The first of this appears right at the beginning of the game when you’re given an option to kill JB or let him go. If you let him go, he eventually gets killed by an unknown scuba assassin. Though JB dies either way, the only consolation you get when you choose the NO option is that at least it wasn’t by your hands.. I don’t think I ever felt this bad about the death of an npc. The moral choices had the potential of being more, not just restrained to taking away a life or sparing it, and in this it felt too one-sided - narrow if you will.

Once you make a choice, short comic-style animations trigger, showing the outcome of your decision. I must say, the graphical style – helmed by popular artists Chris Bachalo, Jamie Mendonza and Jock - is to be praised, even if the subject matter might make you think otherwise. Not overly cartoony but still retaining the vibe of it, they’re one of the game’s highlights.

What the game severely lacked is the interactivity. You were limited to just pushing an object out of the way or pressing a button to open a door. I do wish this had been expanded upon, like, hurling objects at enemies or, since Rios is big and strong, have him pick a particularly heavy object and use it as an improvised weapon. But I do declare it might have been too identical to Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. It wasn’t exactly a cause for concern, but it sure left something big to be desired though.

As mentioned before, the voice-overs were exceptionally great. Granted, the occasional flat line delivery did occur, but they were few and far in-between. On the whole, the voice-acting was consistent, and I especially enjoyed the chemistry between the two leads.

Also mentioned before – right there in the first line -, The 40th Day is far from perfect.  A seemingly perfect run will often-always give way to an anger-raising, teeth-grinding glitch somewhere in the end that you’d want to stop playing the game for a-while. The repeating glitch – one of the several – I had to endure was my teammate – who in this case was Salem – hitting an invisible wall, or barrier. With my health bar all the way to zero and in desperate need of a regeneration, my partner Salem would run into an ill-timed glitch. The number of times I had to restart the level had little to do with my gaming skills and more with this mood-killing glitch.

In conclusion, Army of Two: The 40th Day is a splendid shooter – though it severely lacks substantial, memorable gameplay, deserving incentive and various other tidbits that make games more than just great. But anyone with a PSP and a good amount of time on their hands should definitely check this game out.

Score: 7.5 / 10



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