Much like our initial reaction to Army of Two: The 40th Day, we were constantly impressed during a behind-closed-doors demonstration of the game at E3 this week. While much of the demo, overseen by executive producer Reid Schneider and creative director Alex Hutchinson, was a rehash of the finer points covered in our earlier preview, we did get a closer look at a new element, which we think illustrates a key dynamic of the more -- potentially -- humanistic sequel.
EA Montreal is giving you (and your partner) "opportunities to express who you are in this environment," explains Hutchinson. More specifically, the game's environment (Shanghai in the midst of a violent invasion) is one in which everything goes horribly wrong and the "core story is about saving yourselves." So, what means will justify that end? The choices become yours. Enter: The weapon locker.
In this scene, EA Montreal is playing with "a classic video game scenario." Mercenary broskis Rios and Salem have stumbled upon the age-old weapons cache. "How many games have you walked into and found a weapon locker?" Hutchinson proposes. "And what do you always do? You always loot the weapon locker." But what if?
"Don't mind if I do," says Salem as he reaches for a new assault rifle just before an old security guard tiptoes up behind the duo. "What do you think you are doing?" the guard carefully demands, aiming at the two with a tightly clenched pistol, trembling. Choice time: Take the guns or leave 'em.
Schneider leaves the decision up to the demo attendees. A hand goes up, and then a few more, and we've decided, "Take them!" Salem makes a quick move toward the guard, attempting to disarm him, we suppose, but the gun goes off, and a bullet pierces through the side of the old man's temple and explodes out the other. "I barely touched him," Salem shrugs.
At this moment, the game washes over with a comic book-style cut scene, and we see the guard sprawled out, dead, his wallet slipped out beside him, conveniently opened to a picture of him and his wife -- only his image is soaked in his blood. "We want to show you, then, that the ramifications of your choices extend even outside the gameworld," Schneider explains of the added imagery.
In the gameworld, EA Montreal is challenging players to make choices about who their characters are and become. "You think you're just stealing a gun from someone, but what actually happens is you end up killing a guy who's just doing his job," Hutchinson elaborates. "We want that to continue to escalate throughout the game." In the original Army of Two, you and a friend were forced to be fist bumping, mass-murdering sociopaths. In The 40th Day, you can actually do the right thing. Sorta.