Let This Mask Hide The Tears
Over the entirety of my experience with it, Army of Two slowly transformed into a “Net Positive.” It was unexpected, and slightly annoying, because when I’m seated on a coruscating throne of black rage, I don’t want it melting down into molasses. Optimally, this is a black throne I can hurl edicts from, proclamations with the unyielding vigor of natural law - carried forth by hackling beasts, who are my will made flesh.
But the game wasn’t entirely bullshit, and as a result, you were denied the holy weight of my yoke. Thank the God of your choice.
I needed to gnaw on the product for multiple nights to find its flavor, which had hints of Phantasy Star Online and car culture. The second time through a level, I always found myself enjoying it more - both because my first run had innoculated me against the title’s narrative excesses, and because knowing where enemies were coming from gave it the “wave” metaphor of an arcade classic. I found myself replaying levels (of this game I supposedly did not like) strictly to fancify my arsenal. As expressed in the first Army of Two, the weapon upgrade feature is not deep enough to sustain this kind of play long-term - but it gestures at a kind of campaign experience that has a substantially longer lifespan. The free DLC, with new content and a revamped finale, went a long way toward raising its stature.
The biggest challenge for me in consuming the product was how aggressive the game was in its ignorance. Every part of the world they had created was disingenuous bullshit, and where it had not caked hard it ran thick. Before Army of Two, it had not yet occurred to me that the gaming industry was not interested in my money. This gruesome, flaccid thing they were waving was somehow more gay, for all their efforts to contrary. It gave me a sense of their intended target, a creature largely unknown to me, and situated on the periphery of that blast crater I had no desire to be within the area of effect. What their writers and brand management had done was take a fun but not exemplary outing and make every bite of it bitter. There was nothing authentic about it. It was a parody of masculinity, written by people who hated the characters in their charge.
EA Montreal seems to understand that they have things to answer for, and this seems to inform their work on the sequel. You can digest this preview at Destructoid to plumb the depths of their contrition. Hopefully, they will retain the features that made the original so unique.