Genre: Third-person shooter
Developed by: EA Montreal
Published by: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PS3, XBox 360
Feeling Like: Out of ammunition
This is a tricky one.
On the one hand, Army of Two is almost entirely forgettable. The gung-ho attitude towards wanton destruction and mowing down enemies seems to be as dated as the glorification of Private Military Companies. The bro-heavy approach works well if you look at the game as satire, but I don’t think the developers intended it that way. Penny-Arcade said it best.
That kind of critical thinking surrounding military shooters wasn’t in vogue in 2008. If it was, I wasn’t paying attention to it. All I knew was that I missed playing video games with Lipsit, and here was something we could play cooperatively together while I was in Victoria and he was in Halifax.
So, on the other hand, Army of Two let me hang out with one of my best friends on two different couches while we coordinated who had aggro, who was going after the enemy soldiers and why wasn’t the goddamn internet working?
There’s no other memories, aside from the nifty system that showed you a glowing orange track on where to go. I liked that part. Laughing hysterically when our two characters would air-guitar, or high five with a button press. There were a few set pieces that took advantage of one player doing the movement and one player doing the shooting. It required constant communication, which was fine, except the headset accessory only worked when it felt like it, and hours were spent trying to get our connection going. On top of a four hour difference, it wasn’t the smoothest of sailings.
One of the reasons this entry is tricky is I don’t have all that much to offer you. I don’t have a dozen anecdotes as to why I enjoyed Army of Two, nor a deep analytical dive into what the game meant long term. It’s forgettable, in the grand scheme. Or in any scheme. It’s fluff that hasn’t aged well, beyond being a curiosity and a product of its time.
That’s how powerful co-operation play is in a campaign. A good time with a friend or partner can completely overturn any frustrations, or banalities a game presents. Aside from some maddening attempts to circumnavigate the online discourse and voice chat, Lipsit and I managed to get through the story and enjoy ourselves. It wasn’t necessarily a great game, or even something we anticipated prior to release. It was there, and a post-University experience to hang out over voice chat was all we needed.