The game hinges on a thing called the Aggro Meter. Up in the top middle
of the screen a little meter flops back and forth between you and
your buddy like you were playing the Tug of War mode on Rock Band.
When you’re shooting enemies the meter will come towards your side, and
if you keep making lots of noise and making life difficult for them,
your character will turn red. This will make you stronger, but much,
much more of a target. Meanwhile, your partner will be turned
semi-transparent and not take much notice from the enemies. It makes
sense- you see someone shooting at you in real life, are you going to
be paying attention to the other guy sneaking up on you?



If you keep up the aggro you can go into a power mode, where you do
twice as much damage, but you’ll move really slow- making it fairly
useless unless you’re surrounded by enemies. Your partner (or you, if
your friend sets up the aggro, natch) will move twice as fast and be
basically invisible to enemies. It’s a great way to scout ahead and
take out any potential threats, as long as you do it before time runs
out. There’s nothing worse than being stuck out in the open, surrounded by pissed-off terrorists.



You need to rely on this back and forth to get past later levels,
especially when you start going up against heavily armored foes who can
only be taken down by being shot in the back. It’s a great system, and
makes each firefight that much strategic.



Along with all that, there’s lots of other nifty little moves and
features. You can feign death to have your enemies start focusing on
the other guy, then jump back up and shoot them as they yell in fear.
There’s a GPS system that allows you to quickly find your way and
ensure that
there’s never a moment where you get stuck (as you know happened to you
in Gears of War…. looking for that one damn door you had to go through). It’s
pretty clever, but I can see it taking away from the experience if it’s
used too much.



So the gameplay is solid, of that there’s no doubt. But the actual
game? Well for one thing it’s a decent length at about 7-8 hours, but
it doesn’t have the kickass ending you’ll be hoping for. It sorta ends with a whimper.


Single player is fun, and your computer buddy handles himself well, but it’s just not the same without that human interaction. The game doesn’t hold nearly as much excitement or tension as when you’ve got your friend’s life on the line… digitally, of course (although I play games with my friend’s lives all the time…) It’s almost boring at times by yourself, and if that was all the game had to offer, this would be a much different review.
 

But grab someone else, and you start to understand what they were going for here. It’s pure gaming bliss for the short time it lasts.
 


THE PRESENTATION

 

The game looks fantastic (yet another next gen game powered by the
Unreal Engine 3), but I was honestly upset that the levels don’t have
more interactivity. It’d be nice to be able to shoot chips off of the
pillars your enemies hide behind, and vice versa- it’d make the
gunfights much more visually exciting. Stranglehold showed
us how easy it was to make an otherwise standard gunfight
stand out just by having debris and dust fly around everywhere. But not
even many windows are breakable here.





The music does its job. It’s very cinematic, big swelling type stuff,
and crammed with metal guitars for the more exciting parts, but
ultimately forgettable.

 

The voice work is decent, although the characters are pretty bland
despite the developer’s intentions (They listen to Wu-tang and root for
the Cowboys! They’re so hip!) and the storyline is stereotypical,
mindless stuff. You can see where it’s going right from the start.

The
menus also needed some more work, but more on that in a second.

As an aside, the Achievements have some of the most clever names ever…
mostly ripped straight out of films. Who wouldn’t like getting the
“Flip you. Flip you for Real” or “Big boom. Big bada boom” achievements?

 

THE REPLAY


Once again, Co-op makes this game. Immediately after beating the campaign mode in
single player I got a request from a friend who wanted to start a new
one up with me. I did, and played through 2 of the massive levels,
staying up till very late at night. It’s like playing an entire new
game with a human on the other end. No longer will you have to wait on
your human AI to hit their targets. (By the way, the AI in this game is decent, but
your guy’s not that great of a shot) It’s just so much more fun with
a friend, when you can strategize and help out.



In fact, I can see going through the main storyline a bunch of times
with each of my friends, just because it’s so much fun and there’s so
many ways you can go at a fight. As an added bonus, you can play
split-screen locally with a friend, and even play versus matches online with
him or her.

It might give you pause, but the online multiplayer is only 2 on 2. Before you close this page and turn away in disgust- think about it. It works a helluva lot better than you might expect, and besides, it’s much easier to grab one friend and head to battle than trying to round up a whole team for Team Fortress 2 or Call of Duty 4. Think about that- bullshit free online gaming. Ahhhh.



There are only 4 maps available, with 3 different modes to
select- Warzone, Bounties, and Extraction, but in each of them it’s all
about the cash (moves everything around me). You complete objectives
relating to the mode you chose (assassinations for Warzone, blowing
expensive targets up for Bounties, carrying vips to safety for
Extraction, although they change it up here and there) and try to complete more of them before your opponents do.
The money you earn can be spent on weapon upgrades during the match, but you have to
be careful not to spend too much, lest you end up losing the match.



The best and smartest part of the mode is that there’s tons of non
player characters in every level. They’ll try and stop both team’s
progress, and while they’re very easy to kill (much more so than your
human opponents) it adds so much to the feeling of actually playing in
a real world. It just wouldn’t be the same if it were only 4 people
running around. There’s also vehicles such as trucks and tanks to crush your enemies with.




The versus mode seems to have a few kinks to work out, though. They were having
server problems across the board the last couple of days but it already
seems to be fixed up, and I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that
it was just some early jitters from all the people logging in .


But there are definitely some problems here. First of, it’s
ridiculous how you can unlock weapons and masks in the game and have
nowhere to show them off except in single or co-op modes. When you play
Versus you pick from a stock character (including many models from the
campaign, thankfully) who starts off with no guns but the standard
ones. What’s the point of pimping out your guns or masks in campaign if
you can only use them in co-op? There’s only so many times we’ll play
through the game, as fun as it is (and it really is)
 

The absolute largest problem with the versus mode, though? No lobby system.
Every friggin’ match you’ll end up kicked back to the menus. It’s
unacceptable… if I’m trying to play with a friend, I have to start up
a new game and invite him, every single time? Are you kidding? It’s not
intuitive and could’ve easily been fixed. There definitely has to be a patch of some sort released/



It is a great multiplayer experience, though… really is tons of fun.
Let’s just hope they get those problems patched up quick. Also,
we need more maps and objectives… and need to not be charged for it.
Don’t make us pay for stuff that should’ve been in the box!



THE VERDICT



An amazing game that just can’t quite get over its own hurdles. This is
the kind of game you pray for a follow-up to, because what’s there is
of fantastic quality… it’s just a little grimy. A sequel just needs a
little polish and we could have a classic on our hands.

Still, as of
now, if you’ve got a friend to play with there’s really no reason why
you shouldn’t pick this up.


8.5 out of 10