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365 Word Review: Army of Two

Army of Two tries, bless it. It tries to expand EA’s license dominated catalogue and offer up a fresh experience. Drawing on principles usually seen in MMOs, this third-person shooter places players in the bodies of two meat-head jocks working for private military contractors. Sent around the world fighting for a paycheque, this pair need to work closely together to push through each exotic level.

Against a stream of foes, the two must use cover and distraction to progress. When either shoots or advances they generate aggro. The more aggro generated, the more invisible your partner effectively becomes with the enemy forces preferring to focus on the biggest perceived threat.

This is where it really does try something different. This very clear idea of where your enemy’s attention is focused allows for tactical movement through the battlefield. Good communication between partners can make short work of those in your way. Those, however, with no clear plan could find themselves bogged down in arduous firefights.

Extending the teamwork principle, even if someone takes a tumble it’s not necessarily game over. Dragging them to a quiet corner allows for some emergency first aid. There is no limit on the amount of times this can be employed, the only deterrent is forcing the other into harm’s way.

Whilst in principle the game’s ideas are sound, there a far too many niggling problems to see Army of Two live up to the initial promise. The main offender being the enemy AI which can flip suddenly from overly reclusive to suicidal lemming. The controls simply can’t cope with fast moving foes close up. The targeting is not responsive enough and all too regularly you’ll get clotheslined by an onrushing soldier which cannot be countered.

The game does bring a handful of fresh ideas to the table, including coordinated sniping, a “back to back” mode which sees players at the centre of an on rushing horde and a parachuting section where one steers and one shoots, but none of these ideas truly raise the bar. Army of Two can be put down as a commendable effort to buck the licensing trend but something that ultimately falls short of reinventing co-op play.


Do you “FIFA”?

So what did you take away from TGS? Anything monster?

Back home I’m still without a Xbox hard drive and I’m twiddling my thumbs, relying on a storage device that is only just large enough to hold my profile and a Halo save game. It’s a good job my copy of FIFA 09 appears to be lost in the post as I don’t think I’d have room to save out a season’s campaign even if I wanted to.

Why are they using

This year the classic choice of FIFA or Pro Evo has swung in EA’s favour, for once. It’s been a good few years since I’ve bought into their highly polished version of the beautiful game but with all their leaps and bounds forward, compared with Pro Evo’s continuing insistence to neglect to fix up niggles that have plagued the series for years, I’m happy to invest. Play seems smooth and natural, and for as much as I have the greatest respect for Konami’s efforts they just haven’t evolved enough, in my opinion.

Continuing on from my enjoyment of UEFA 2008’s multiplayer, FIFA brings with it what can really only be described as a clan system. A whole squad of you and your friends can get together, form a “club” and then up to ten of you can play online at the same time in the same team. Obviously this could be disastrous and I initially had visions of a school playground where players would flock after the ball like birds in migration, but when executed well with a group of competent team mates it does have tremendous potential.

The sticking point may be which team we adopt as I’ve seen one friend obsess over Cheltenham town, we have a Cardiff support in our ranks and Spurs aren’t exactly setting Europe alight this season. We may have to go for some neutral ground… Spain or Brazil, maybe, as a compromise.

UEFA 2008

For most of my life I’ve been a Pro Evo man. Compared to the FIFA series, it offered a greater level of realism and really made you work for everything that you did, which I found very rewarding. The gap over recent years, however, has been narrowing, with the recent outings for the behemoth EA steadily improving, leaving the more arcadey feel of previous titles behind.

The latest release, UEFA 2008, adds another string to its bow with the Captain Your Country mode, where you take choose a single player and then take control of him throughout the entire qualification campaign. Starting in the B-Internationals, you must work your way up through the ranks to first earn a squad place and then the captain’s armband.

Playing as a single position for the entire season may not sound inspiring but it brings a refreshing new dimension to the game as it allows you to think about how the game is played in a completely different fashion.

Man on!

Taking the role of a striker, you’ll no long have to rely on the computer starting to make runs for you, taking control only when you’ve slipped yourself a through ball from the midfielder you just sent on a scything run. Instead, you’ll be constantly watching the line, calling for the ball and doing your best to make space whilst the AI does the mundane defensive duties.

The added feature is that you are actually rated for everything you do and poor play will see your Man of the Match score slowly tick down. It definitely encourages you to keep your passes true and your shots on target as you can risk the loss of the captaincy if you put in a shocker.

As always in these situations, multiplayer takes a good idea and makes it even better. With four of you playing in this mode you get a sense of team play as never before as it is infinitely easier to keep tabs on what is going on without the flicking of cursors between different men.

In the couple of hours we put in post-palooza, some wonderful goals were carved out with defenses being pulled out of position and inch-perfect crosses. Furthermore, these Goal of the Month contenders can even be saved to Flash files on the game’s website so you can relieve that clinical finish over and over again.

If you like your football games and you can stomach the third high-profile release in the genre in the last six months, then UEFA 2008 is definitely worth your time.