Guess which one is Rios
The other big difference between the PSP and console versions is centered on Salem and Rios’ arsenal of death and destruction. As we previously covered, the “LEGO with guns” weapon customization that players get in the console versions of The 40th Day is sadly absent in the PSP version. Instead, each weapon has three stats that players can choose to spend their in-game cash on in order to upgrade. However, this upgrading, in addition to the selection of which two weapons you take with you in a level and the purchasing of new weapons, can only be done at the gun merchant located at the beginning or middle of a level. Even though Salem and Rios won’t be attaching a coke can silencer or a coat hanger wire stock to their guns in the PSP version, they do have access to some weapons not available in the console versions. What kind of weapons? Well, how about a beam rifle? Or a flamethrower? As awesome, fun, and reflective of the game’s Contra/Smash TV roots as those kinds of weapon choices may be, they also present a rather odd dichotomy.
One thing that I’ve observed in the limited playtime I’ve had with the console version of the game is that there’s a slightly more serious tone to everything. Sure Salem and Rios will still be fist-bumping and joking with one another, but let’s face it – an entire city is being destroyed around them and they’re sometimes faced with the unpleasant results of what that means for its residents. Although the gameplay mechanics and the gun customization have changed, the PSP version of Army of Two: The 40th Day still has the same story as the console version and still presents Salem and Rios with some interesting moral choices. Those moral choices also don’t always resolve the way you think they might, which I witnessed first-hand when I was playing the game at the community event. So when presented with this somewhat serious story and moral decisions, running around a screen going “pew pew pew” with a beam rifle just seems to pull you out of it for a bit. Of course, Rios’ resembling a walking stack of meat, which was a game design decision in order to help players tell the two mercs apart, doesn’t help either. Noticing or finding this kind of a dichotomy a bit jarring is likely one of those “just odd to me” things, but it was something that stuck out to me when I was playing.
Smaller scale, same level of destruction
Regardless, Army of Two: The 40th Day for the PSP was still an enjoyable game to play. It offers a different kind of play experience for players who miss the arcade shooters of old in addition to a few features that are wholly unique to this version, such as the new levels and the unlockable characters (no word on who) for beating the game. At the time of this writing, the game only offers adhoc co-op, a decision that makes complete sense as the infrastructure mode doesn’t support voice chat and players really need to communicate with one another in order to succeed. However, Joe Khourry was at the community event and he told us that they were working on getting it added to the list of adhocParty games, which would get around that sticky “how do players talk with each other if they're not in the same room” issue thanks to the service’s voice chat feature. Hopefully EA Montreal is successful in their efforts to get it working with that service, as the game’s only real limitation at this point is the distance two players can sit from one another and still be able to enjoy all of the fun.