Army of Two: The 40th Day
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Army of Two: The 40th Day is an extremely violent third-person shooter. It is filled with excessive blood and gore. Characters spurt blood and their heads often explode when struck by weapon fire. What’s more, an array of profanity is peppered throughout each chapter. The player’s characters -- Rangers turned private military contractors -- are presented as rough but essentially good men. They face difficult moral quandaries throughout the game that are left up to the player to resolve. Consequently, just how “good” they end up being and their reputation among civilians is in large part up to the player.
What's it about?
The follow-up to Electronic Arts' extremely violent co-operative shooter about a pair of military men-turned-mercenaries, ARMY OF TWO: THE 40th DAY is set in a Shanghai that has come under massive terrorist assault. Our two heroes are caught in the middle and spend most of the game simply trying to survive and find a way out of the chaos. They climb up and down skyscrapers that are hit by airplanes and fall to the ground -- sometimes with them still inside -- and through streets crowded with the rubble of toppled buildings. They kill hundreds of terrorists along the way and are presented with several moral choices that allow players to determine whether to, say, save civilians or let them be shot. Like its predecessor, the game is designed from the ground up to be a co-operative experience (though you can play alone with a computer-controlled team mate), and allows players to join others either in local split-screen or online modes.
Is it any good?
The original Army of Two was a commercial success but received lukewarm reviews from the press, who criticized the game’s artificial intelligence and middling co-operative mechanics. It seems Electronic Arts has taken these criticisms to heart, because the sequel is a fun, witty, Hollywood-style action adventure that outdoes its predecessor in almost every way. The co-op play in particular is terrific. Players must work together to provide covering fire and achieve flanking positions, and the creative level design -- one scene actually has players running across the face of a building that has toppled into another -- often lets each player forge his or her own path.
To top it all off it has an excellent blend of humor (the subjects of jokes between our two leading men range from Bruce Willis to bestiality) as well as some more sober narrative sequences in which the player must make hard moral decisions. Do you enlist the aid of a nearby boy to get a much needed sniper rifle lying nearby? Do you execute the man who led you safely through chaotic streets just because you were ordered? You might be surprised at how much this action game makes you think.
Online interaction: Players can play co-operatively or against each other online. Open voice chat is supported, which raises the potential for players to share personal information. It also means that players may be exposed to inappropriate language, ideas, and verbal abuse. Common Sense Media does not recommend online play for pre-teens.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the idea of private military contractors (PMC). PMCs are currently employed by various governments, including our own, throughout the world. Are they a preferable alternative to using army forces? Do you think that they are somehow more or less capable? Can you think of any moral or ethical issues that could arise from their use?
Families can also discuss the idea of presenting a player with moral choices in a game. Do you think choosing whether or not to, say, let digital civilians die in a game says something about the player? Or is it just a game with no meaning? How would you choose?