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Army Of Two: The 40th Day

Cloverfield would perhaps not be the first film that springs to mind when you think of Army of Two, but as we’re shown the 40th Day at E3, EA tells us that it was a big influence when developing then sequel.  It’s not about the monster, it’s about the atmosphere.  The development team has tried to capture the chaos of a catastrophic event and as we see the Shanghai setting for the first time, with people running terrified in the streets and debris littering the screen, it certainly looks like a visual step-up from its predecessor.We’re told that the feedback to the first game from press and gamers alike was a “humbling experience” for the development team and that criticisms have been taken on board for the sequel. And the setting is obviously the big change. EA tells us that the use of locations like Afghanistan and Iraq was perhaps a mistake in the first game due to real world events, meaning the game’s context felt a little too “raw” for some players. Now Shanghai is the star and as we see the chaos unfolding before us, with some decent particle effects, screen-shaking and bombastic audio on offer the Cloverfield reference starts to make sense.With Salem and Rios sneaking through the streets of Shanghai at the beginning of the demo, we’re shown some of the new tricks at their disposal including two clever uses of a surrender system. The first sees the protagonists sneak up on a group of soldiers, identify the “Elite” soldier of the group and Salem takes him hostage. The rest of the grunts, understandably, surrender allowing Rios to tie them up while Salem knocks out the Elite. The second is perhaps more clever and sees Rios climb up into a sniping position, while Salem walks towards a group of enemy soldiers with his arms raised. You can guess what happens next.We’re told that there will be more separation moments in the sequel and we see a nice example of this when, again, one player ascends to a sniping position while the other hides behind the door to a courtyard. What’s impressive about this is that the sniping player’s view is projected into the other’s HUD meaning there’s an interesting co-operative reconnaissance system at work.However, one new feature of the sequel that we’re not entirely sold on is the Morality Moments system. We’re shown an indoor section in which Salem and Rios discover a cache of weapons but, before they can take them, are interrupted by a security guard. They then have to decide whether to take the weapons or not, risking a fight with the guard. While the idea that a unanimous decision is not required is pretty interesting (the first player to choose decides the outcome), the scene isn’t handled particularly well. We choose to take the weapons anyway and after a brief scuffle with the guard, his gun fires accidentally and the ricochet sends a bullet into his head. A cutscene follows showing him lying on the floor clutching a photo of his daughter, followed by the kind of boneheaded dialogue we hoped would be absent form the sequel. It’s very heavy-handed, clichéd and feels a little patronising. Killing innocent people is wrong because they have families, m’kay? However, in general, what we see of The 40th Day definitely seems like a step up from its predecessor. Despite the occasional severe framerate dip, which will hopefully be ironed out before the final release, the Unreal 3 Engine held up pretty well and the new setting, and chaotic context, seems to benefit the game.

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