Army of Two Hands on Preview - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 08-04-2007, 12:52 PM
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Default Army of Two Hands on Preview

One of the things that people don’t really think about when discussing the current situation in Iraq is the number of non-military American citizens there. While the majority of our fighting force is battling every day, many people feel that it’s these “other” men and women that are really shaping the course of the war. Who are they? Why mercenaries, of course! In many ways (actually, in every way), these warriors from the private sector are better equipped than our own soldiers, mainly because they are backed by corporations that have deep pockets. The mercs are mostly used for “black ops” missions that the military legally can’t become involved in. Naturally, stuff like that is perfect fodder for video game developers.

When EA announced Army of Two at last year’s E3, all we really knew about the game was the fact that it featured two wise-cracking mercenaries that spent their time bickering like an old married couple. While we still don’t really know how the full game will play out, we have learned that you’ll play as a mercenary who is a employed by a private military contractor. Your character (or characters, if you’re playing with a friend) will be sent all over the world to complete a variety of shady missions. While the mission that we played took place in China, you’ll also spend some time in the Middle East, as well as some other “hot-button” locales. The team is still being pretty quiet about the storyline, but we’re hopeful that it’ll feature plenty of double-crosses and international intrigue.

Although the game can be played solo, all of Army of Two’s gameplay revolves around the idea that co-op isn’t simply a mode, it’s the actual game. This means that you’ll be able to do the same things with an AI partner as you could with a real life buddy, and vice versa. From what we’ve seen, the I in AI actually does stand for intelligence, something that not all games can say for themselves. The best way to describe the game is as a “tactical shooter,” meaning you’ll probably get smoked if you just run into a situation with your guns blazing. This is one game in which it definitely pays to think ahead and plan your strategy. Teamwork is essential, and the developers have included some unique mechanics to ensure that you’ll always have lots of different ways to approach a given situation.

There are a number of different ways that you can work together to get through a sticky situation. Communication is the key, as there will be some sequences in which both players must perform a given action at exactly the same time. We saw this during one scene in which our two heroes had to fire their rockets simultaneously to take down a large bridge that a convoy was traveling over. There will also be moments that require one player to boost the other up to a higher level (or lower them down) or work together to move an obstacle out of the way. Then there are the driving sequences, in which one player must steer (in the case of our level, this meant navigating a hovercraft down a Chinese river) while the other mans the guns.

Many of these co-op specific moves are tied into the game’s Aggro system, which basically determines which player is drawing the most attention from the enemies. Your Aggro rating is presented on a scale from 1 to 100, with the latter representing the highest level. When your Aggro is completely full, you’ll do 4 times the amount of damage as you would at your lowest level. If your partner has all of the Aggro, your character will basically be invisible, allowing you to move around stealthily. Once the combat sequence ends, the Aggro meter will slowly return to its default 50/50 level, meaning the characters will be equally likely to attract attention.

It took us a little while to wrap our minds around the whole Aggro system, but it definitely sounds like a unique co-op gameplay mechanic. It should offer players a variety of ways to attack a given situation, especially when you consider that one player can actually “play dead” in order to give his teammate all of the Aggro. Then, once the enemies are focusing all of their attention on the rage-fueled character, the other one can pop up and move into a superior position before coming to his teammate’s aid. There will also be some Aggro-specific moves, such as the back-to-back formation that increases both players’ armor ratings and allows them to take out every enemy around them. Finally, there’s the Overkill mode that can be entered once one player has stayed maxed-out long enough, allowing him to murder every baddie in sight.

One of the most interesting gameplay elements is the way that you can either rescue your teammate from certain death or tend to his wounds during battle. If your buddy falls during combat, you’ll be able to rush to his side and literally drag him out of the way of danger (in a nice touch, he can still fire his weapon while being pulled off by his collar). Once you’ve dragged him to safety, you can enter a minigame in which you’ll stuff a tampon (yes, you read that right and yes, that’s actually what some mercs do on the battlefield) into the bullet wound. You’ll be tasked with simultaneously hitting the correct buttons in the right order, and while we didn’t get to try this part for ourselves, it was presented cinematically.

Of course, no mercenary worth his salt would be caught dead heading into battle without his weapon of choice, so the developers ensured that every player will be able to customize his loadout. In many ways, real-life mercenaries are better equipped than the men and women serving in the military, mainly because they can use whatever non-standard weapons they want. In Army of Two, you’ll be able to select a variety of weapons and customize each of them with everything from front-mounted shotguns and grenade launchers to different scopes. Not all of the options are functional, and we were happy to see that you can actually “bling out” your weapons with chrome or gold plating. We also learned that the weapon you wield will affect your Aggro rating, although we didn’t get very many details on that front.

Army of Two looks like it will be one of the most interesting games of the holiday season, as the developers are trying to implement some pretty ambitious gameplay mechanics. The whole Aggro system should provide players with plenty of chance to use advanced strategy to make it through the levels, and we’re completely onboard with the way the game embraces the idea of cooperative play. It’s a really nice looking game too (especially when it comes to the detailed character models), and we can’t say enough about the laugh-out-loud funny dialogue. You can be sure that we’ll be bringing you a lot more on this one as its November release date draws closer.
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Old 08-04-2007, 02:48 PM
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If I had to pick this or Halo 3 id go with this. I cant wait for it.
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Old 08-04-2007, 03:04 PM
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You and me both. This caught my eye a while back and I've been more and more interested with every new detail. But then again, I'd take almost anything over Halo.
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