Though reviews haven't been consistently kind, most critics seem to label Army of Two's cooperative, fist-pounding gameplay as the best reason to start shooting. The promise of leaving a bloody terrorist trail with a buddy-in-arms does come with one caveat though: The members of your army can't have an ocean between them. Army of Two's online modes are restricted according to region, with the US, European and Asian versions unable to exchange so much as a salutation, let alone a barrage of bullets.
Consequently, we spoke to EA Montreal's Reid Schneider, senior producer on Army of Two, in the hopes of learning more about the decision to introduce a territorial lockout across Xbox Live and PSN. While the explanation is unlikely to dissolve your disappointment (not to mention that of Claus, your Swedish best friend), it does spring from EA's belief to do what was best for its game. We don't believe it was the best decision for modern, borderless gamers, but Schneider assured us that the developer is "actively looking into" retooling the game in the future. "We are looking to find a way where we can do it," said Schneider," and not expose users to super slow connections..."
According to Schneider, said super slow connections are what prompted the region blocking. Using a deterministic (peer-to-peer) network model enables the game's synchronized gameplay animation, but requires parity on both systems. If a slow connection is thrown into the mix, "the person with the worst connection brings down the whole group to his/her worst connection level," explained Schneider. "While not generally a problem for COOP (since most people play coop with friends) when playing in Versus mode 3 people can be highly adversely affected by one player with a bad connection. We use the region lock to minimize the likelihood of this occurring."
The game's Asian version is an entirely different beast. Due to territory requirements, players of that particular version can't shoot the bodies that are inevitably strewn across the battlefield. As was the case with the initial release of Insomniac's Resistance: Fall of Man, us sick and disgusting Westerners weren't deprived of this "feature." Schneider noted that having one version of the game with bullet-proof corpses talking to one that didn't "would result in a de-sync in the simulation and ultimately the game would fail."
We can't say these explanations will come as much as an appeasement to gamers -- especially not with the likes of Halo 3 and Gears of War lodged in the same genre -- but with American foreign policy growing more insular every day, who really wants to game with other countries anyway?