IGN Review of Army of Two: The 40th Day
The danger in bringing a game from a console to a portable is that key features get lost in translation. Some features may be limited, while others are changed or completely eliminated to fit on smaller systems. The most important question is: how do those changes affect the overall game? In the case of Army of Two: The 40th Day for the PSP, these changes are not for the better. Virtually abandoning the franchise's co-op focus, the portable version degenerates into a sub-par action title.The locked, top-down perspective of the game is a big part of the problem. It restricts your view of the environment so you can't see where enemies or hazards are. This unpredictability doesn't add any tension; rather, it's a cheap attempt to make sections harder. This sentiment is only reinforced as you go further along into the game and are stuck facing off against waves of enemies that prefer to rush you instead of using any battlefield tactics. The primary challenge comes from constantly fending off these hordes while avoiding bombs randomly dropped from the skies, making the shallow gameplay obvious.
The 40th Day takes place in Shanghai over the course of a few days as Rios and Salem run missions for their own private military corporation, TransWorld Operations. They accept a simple contract for a huge payday and don't expect much difficulty in accomplishing their tasks. As they finish their mission, Shanghai comes under attack. Salem and Rios have to stay alive long enough to figure out who's behind it. The PSP version follows the console plot faithfully and even repurposes much of the dialogue. However, the sense of chaos is completely lost on the small screen; the streets still seem populated and the destruction you witness seems minor. As a result, it doesn't feel like the city is falling down around you, and there's no adrenaline rush from surviving the battles.
Even worse, the portable version has totally abandoned the cooperative nature of the franchise. There are no co-op sniping sequences and the few step jump moments (where you lift your partner to access previously unreachable areas) are basically worthless. Even your interaction with your partner is ineffective; you can direct your partner to hold or follow you, but he rarely does what you want him to do. He won't save hostages, pick up items or heal himself when he's about to die. In fact, you'll frequently find the AI a screen or two back. Then again, if he's in battle, you're not any safer because friendly fire is permanently turned on and your partner will often shoot you in the back as he tries to hit enemies. As a result, you fight through the game practically by yourself, unless you're injured because only your partner can revive you when you go down. Playing co-operatively with a friend is the only multiplayer feature available, and it highlights the issues of the single-player campaign because fighting with someone intelligent demonstrates what the AI can't do effectively in combat.
Then again, all of the AI is weak in this game. Alice and Breznev, two of your NPC allies, are completely useless, as neither will heal you or shoot enemies; they're essentially bullet fodder. The enemy AI isn't any better. You can eliminate many soldiers before they fire a single shot and some of the stronger heavy troops that show up are equally ineffectual. That's unfortunate, because there is an assortment of enemies that you'll face, from shock baton soldiers to beam-wielding thugs. While the variety is nice, many of them are too stupid to be a serious threat in combat.
Some of the features that work well on the console are inexplicably broken on the PSP. In the console version, the aggro system allows you to draw the enemies' attention so your partner can flank your targets. In the PSP version, the weapons don't have a specific aggro value, so you or your partner can suddenly gain full aggro with one or two shots. That doesn't really matter, though, because the system doesn't always work. When you finally face an enemy that does attack you, there is a 50-percent chance that they will ignore aggro in favor of shooting you or your partner. As a result, you'll just shoot anything that moves because tactics are a waste of time.
The weapon customization is weaker, too; players can only modify their weapons at specific merchant locations and your options are limited. You can't acquire grenades or sniper rifles, nor can you purchase gear that can be swapped out. Instead, each weapon has three upgrade levels that provide damage bonuses, rate of fire increases or magazine boosts. Unfortunately, acquiring new weapons is only for players that have a desire to try out every firearm. You never have to swap weapons because you're running low on ammo, so you can go from start to finish with the same gun and kill almost every enemy because they only take a few bullets before they go down.
Bosses are slightly more complicated than grunts and beating them involves targeting their weak points. However, because these weaknesses are highlighted for you, the battles are pretty simple. For example, you'll go up against attack helicopters that fire missiles at your position. However, each weapon port on the chopper is haloed with a targeting box, so you can aim at these locations and end the battle very quickly. It's a mild change of pace within the game, but it's not too challenging. The lone exception is the final boss, because the difficulty suddenly spikes within this showdown. Shrugging off many tactics that worked in other battles, this character seems like he comes from a different game. The fight is totally out of proportion to every other fight you've had and doesn't serve to make you want to replay the title at all, even though replaying could unlock some of the new character skins included in the game
Now, the portable game does incorporate the morality tests from the console version. There are plenty of hostages to save, if you want. You won't earn weapon parts for helping them, but you will get cash. However, unlike the console version, you're punished for choosing to be evil. If you kill a hostage, the game deducts money from your account, so you literally pay for being bad. The major morality decisions from the console version return as well, but their transfer to the PSP is spoiled by significant flicker within the playback, reducing the quality of the scene.
Flicker isn't the PSP version's only visual issue. There's also a ton of slowdown, especially when a lot of explosions go off or the camera shifts to a new location. The slowdown can last for several seconds, and while it won't totally ruin gameplay, it hampers the experience. That's unfortunate because the variety of environments is one of the game's better features. For instance, you'll fight across rooftops and through hallways and alleyways. While the camera issues mentioned earlier can complicate play, you'll still have a number of interesting battlefields to fight through. Character models are passable at best, with only a slight variation in build to indicate Rios and Salem. However, animations can be stiff and somewhat repetitive. Bosses frequently demonstrate this flaw, raising their weapon and grunting in the middle of an attack.
On the other hand, vocal dialogue is well done, as the lines come straight from the console game. The voice actors provide a good sense of comedic timing and weight to their comments, which makes the dialogue enjoyable. However, because some statements are taken out of context, you feel as though you're missing parts of the story that are never fully explained. The sound effects are decent but nothing to make you feel like you're in the midst of battle, either.
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