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The Fall of Shanghai

            Welcome to Shanghai. Well, when you're playing Army of Two: The 40th Day, you'd more likely think it is hell. That's not a bad thing either. The collapsing city of Shanghai is way more interesting and explosive than any environment you came across in the first game. Besides that, get ready for a very similar experience that, thanks to a few small but welcome improvements, is a much more appealing game overall.

            You'll once again dawn the masks of Salem and Rios, the stars of the first game, but this time, things don't go according to plan. As the duo finish up a routine job in Shanghai, everything in the city falls apart, both literally and figuratively. The reasons for this are left unexplained until the very end, but answers aren't what keep Rios and Salem moving forward. They're in it to get out of town, and it's your job, preferably with the aid of a buddy, to help them.

            The main characters are just as light-hearted and funny as they were in the first game. While some may have found them offensive, this time around they are more sympathetic and remorseful, but not to the point of no humor.

            The story also has the newest trend in video games in the form of moral choices. They're amusing, and for some they'll be enough to warrant a second play-through, but the addition is pretty shallow overall and not as fleshed out as it could have been.

            Blasting your way through The 40th Day's seven chapters clocked in at about 6 and a half hours for me to complete. While this isn't much different from the first game, the environments are much more diverse. You are in a single city, but you'll go from zoos to hospitals to office buildings, but enemies generally stay the same throughout, and you'll grow tired of them by the time the game ends. Thankfully, there is an extremely flexible weapons customization system to add that personal touch. You can customize many different scopes, stocks, and barrels, and you'll be surprised at just how many options are available.

            A few extras are sprinkled on top as well. For starters, you can personalize your appearance with various masks, or create your own online. I already mentioned the moral choices, but there are also hostages to rescue, lucky cats to shoot, and radio logs to collect. Then there is the big head mode that everyone loves so much...

            Competitive multiplayer keeps the same flavor as the rest of the game, with every one split in to groups of two, and only your partner can resupply you or revive you when you need help. Playing a Deathmatch and coordinating with your partner well can make things much easier, especially once you've learned the nature of each match.

            The other modes are standard, but the co-op twist on things is definitely a plus. Control has teams fighting over specific points on the map. Finally Warzone, ripped straight out of Killzone 2, tasks both teams with completing constantly changing objectives, whether it is by killing a specific player, stealing a package, or planting a bomb. Overall, the modes are fun, but it definitely sucks that you can't use the customized when from single-player.

            If you're going to buy The 40th Day, it's to play with a friend, whether split-screen or online. When playing solo, the partner AI is surprisingly smart, and does a good job of staying alive, choosing which enemy causes the largest threat, and reviving you when you fall.

            It can seem smarter than some human partners at times, and you can give a few commands, but the real way to play this is with a friend. Forming strategies and communicating effectively is only possible with another human, so if you're looking for a good solo shooter, The 40th Day isn't for you.

            The aggro system returns, and hasn't seen many changes from the last outing. In case you aren't familiar with it, the system draws attention to the player who is more apparent to the enemies, and is represented by a bar at the top of the screen or by the glow that illuminates the louder player. The more shots you fire and enemies you kill, the more your enemies begin to focus on you, allowing your partner to sneak around and stealthily kill some foes. To instantly lose all that attention, you can play dead.

            The system is an interesting idea that makes it easier to work as a team, but it can take you out of the experience as your glowing partner is being fired upon from all directions, while you walk right in front of foes blinded to your existence and easily eliminate them. Still, it doesn't break the game, and manages to make strategy more enforced throughout the game.

            You and your partner also aid each other in other situations as well as in battle. Besides boosting each other to higher ground and other obvious things like that, saving hostages can be done with one player sneaking up and grabbing one enemy, while the other ties up the others. Also, either player can decide what to do with the moral situations. It just depends on who manages to tap the button first.

            The beauty of Army of Two: The 40th Day comes from the awful appearance of Shanghai. It's awful because the destruction has torn the city apart, and it's a beautiful spectacle that is fun to watch. The sound isn't amazing (Nolan North again!?), but the destruction on display truly makes up for any other shortcomings in presentation.

            Army of Two: The 40th Day is a fun ride, but its short length is a disappointment, and it's really only worth buying if you're into playing with a buddy. The destruction of Shanghai is a sight worth seeing, but be sure to have a friend willing to help you through it.

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