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Tycho / on Wed, Dec 30 2009 at 12:00 am

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This is the kind of conversation we have after we’ve been separated for a week.  The throughput gets redlined with a thorough, almost reptilian, probably repulsive masculinity.  It’s barely coherent, as data; it’s more like an extended club mix of caged animal impulses.  So, um…  enjoy(?).

The demo for Army of Two: The 40th Day has a difficult job - the resuscitation of a comatose brand - so if it falters in this task, perhaps it may be forgiven.

I had a fairly complex relationship with the original game, as you may recall - one that travelled through a place of absolute rage, where draconic ribs jut from a plain of hot, black glass, into something akin to (if not authentically described as) acceptance.  Not an acceptance of their theme, or their characters, or even the game itself:  I had simply found something to do with their game that wasn’t the opposite of fun.

I found this video somewhat reassuring, because they appeared to be going deep on one of the original’s real virtues: futzing around with boomsticks.  Eventually that game was (for me) about farming money, about content mastery, as mastering the content was the certain means to earning a good rate of return, which was plowed into the arsenal, which allowed me to further iterate, and so forth.  This is something the demo does discuss: discoverable equipment, equipment branches, and the like.  I’m down, as far as that goes.

Independent of anything you might call a holdover from the first game, Ao2:TFD (or whatever ends up being the optimal nomenclature) has a serious problem anytime you pull the trigger.  This is something that happens a lot in a game about shooting, so when your gunplay feels as mushy and vague as it does here, it’s something you need to stop and fix.  If your product is about two thoroughly hetero badasses who kill for money, every pull of the trigger needs to be pornographic in its primal immediacy.  That shit needs to buck out of control, every squeeze of the trigger should be like trying to break a colt.

You can pile all the systems you want to on top of it, but the ur-system - the primary means of communicating your volition to the gamespace - needs to feel like it believes the thesis.  Not so, here.  Rather, it is mealy and ambiguous. This game is not wholly committed to the idea that a firearm can unmake a human life.

I could probably learn to like it again; they’re moving in an interesting direction with their split-second moral decisions, which is tied (again) into the neat work they’re putting forward in arsenal customization.  But God damn if they don’t have a lot to prove in this second outing, and the demo’s assertions in this regard are less than confident. 

(CW)TB out.

none of the above

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