EA Montreal invited Co-Optimus along for an early look at Army Of Two: The 40th Day. We were treated to seeing the new game in action, Q&A with the producers and an exclusive look at the new trailer for the title.
Let's get one thing out of the way, Army of Two: The 40th Day is definitely a product of the "new" Electronic Arts. Following on the heels of games such as Dead Space, Mirrors Edge and Skate, 40th Day is taking established conventions and moving them in new directions. Using the best gameplay dynamics from the first title, being inspired by elements from other top tier properties and introducing whole new ways to dynamically approach scenarios, it feels like a different game right from the start. Which is really what you hope a sequel will do.
EA Montreal has taken a hard look at the first game. What worked and what didn't. It's obvious however that they've kept the Co-Op experience at the forefront of the design process. While it's still only part way through development, the improvements are apparent.
Controls in the 40th day are designed to just click, working with many of the now industry defined placements on the controller for what you'd expect (melee attacks, aiming, shooting, running, all are where they should be). The gameplay itself allows freedom to strategize (either with yourself and an AI partner or co-op) before running into the fray. A big new addition being the "Playbook", which works as an in-game overlay allowing you to analyze targets, tag them to co-ordinate, and choose specific situational tactics to employ before just running in guns blazing.
Audio in the game seemed to be coming along nicely, especially with ambient sounds found throughout the city. However there was no real witty banter yet to be heard, as much of the voice work is still being recorded. What sound effects were present, however, came across quite well. EA Montreal spent 4 days recording a bunch of gunfire in LA (using 85 mic pickups) to get the effects just right.
Graphically the game looks fantastic. Showing off it's new shadow mapping, we were treated to improved lightning. The characters themselves (Rios and Salem) are sporting a more realistic, gritty look. Gone are the weightlifting juicers from the first game, with more battle torn mercenaries left in their place. The character animations are already fluid and fit perfectly into the art style. We also get a more humanizing approach for the lead characters as we now see them with their ballistics masks off when out of combat and through the story. Taking place in Shanghai, we see very detailed surroundings that give a definite impression of the city being alive instead of just another map to shoot through. While the design for Shanghai begins looking as you'd expect, that quickly changes...