24 March 2010
The idea was to play cards and drink vodka tonics. Instead, we wound up playing this game well into the night. It was a weekend night and I had just received this game and Frontlines: Fuel of War for review purposes. I figured we'd check them out for a few minutes and then me and the fellas would play poker. We never go to the poker because both games were pretty compelling – and, in the case of Army of Two, were perfect for co-op play.
Then we got to talking about games and films and the process of critiquing each.
For instance: What if I told you that “Predator” was as fine a film as “Casablanca?”
The hell you say?
Hell yes, I say.
“Predator” does what it sets out to do as well as any film in that genre. In the late 1980s when we were growing tired of cookie cutter action films, “Predator” came out of nowhere with a great science fiction story based on Earth and a ton of pre-CGI action filled with impressive stunts, clever dialogue and a tight story. “Casablanca” is just as flawless in its execution. So, if you judge a piece of art on its ambition, you see that they’re both masterpieces.
In Army of Two, the ambition is to bring the highest caliber of buddy film dynamics to a video game console. The result is a co-op masterpiece. Like films, games should be judged on what they set out to accomplish. This game is meant to be played with another human being – either on your couch or online – and the results are as good as any other co-op game this side of Gears of War. When played this way the game shines. Unlike the original Gears of War – which has a “when you’re dead, you’re dead” philosophy – Army of Two allows your buddy time to find and heal you when you go down. After spending hour after hour saving Dom’s ass in Gears, it was nice to finally have someone come and cover me when I got into trouble in Army of Two.
I remember at the time wishing that improvements for the sequel would focus entirely on the writing and story. Buddy films live and die by the quality of the relationship between the two buddies. Army of Two makes some progress here, but it could certainly be improved.
Sadly, it wasn't.
Army of Two will likely be forgotten by future generations, but I'll always remember it as a game good enough to get a bunch of guys to forget about drinking and gambling for at least one evening.
By Victor Paul Alvarez