Remember that video game we showed you a while ago which featured Shanghai being blown up in a terrorist attack? Well, it’s out in stores all over our city now, and over the weekend, we got a chance to play it.
The plot of Army of Two: The 40th Day revolves around two hired mercenaries who are in Shanghai, doing their military contract job and complaining about how much they want beer, when terrorists attack! Thousands upon thousands of very well funded, extremely armed and yet super easy to kill terrorists. You and your buddy (it’s very much meant to be a two-player game) take turns laying waste to this mysterious organization of baddies while meeting all sorts of characters. They force you to decide what to do with them (are you moral or mean?) and your decisions will effect what kind of cut scenes you get… if not much else.
But really, we don’t care that much about the game play (shallow, silly, but kind of fun), what we were curious about is EA Montreal’s interpretation of Shanghai.
And… it feels, perhaps not surprisingly, that they’ve never actually been here before. While we appreciated some details – the trashcans look remarkably similar and it was kind of fun to yell out “HEY HUAI HAI ROAD!” when you saw it on a street sign – it’s sad to know that years after Mission Impossible III, people still think our skyscrapers are surrounded by idyllic chintzy Chinatown style homes.
Speaking of the skyscrapers, the one thing they did get right are basically destroyed completely within the first hour of the game. The Jinmao collapses upon itself, the SWFC topples onto nearby buildings and the Pearl Tower goes down in a shower of pink. Once those are gone, you might as well be running through ASIATOWN, HOLLYWOOD(c). It’s funny though: despite all the dead animals and destruction (terrorists are animal-killing dicks!), the Shanghai Zoo manages to look more cheerful than its real-life counterpart.
Yes, it probably sounds nitpicky to blab on about how unrealistic a videogame is, but this is the day and age after GTA: Liberty City, which got “New York” down so well we felt tears come to our eyes, and The Getaway, whose development team spent 18 months recreating the streets of London, and Call of Duty 4‘s on spot rendition of Chenobyl, it would have been cool if the first time Shanghai featured in a blockbuster release, it’d actually be Shanghai.
Here are some clippings of actual reviews:
- Gamespot: “The 40th Day has the same shallow appeal as a summer blockbuster. It provides brash, satisfying action when you’re in the mood for something loud and fun.”
- IGN: “A disaster movie in a game package, Army of Two: The 40th Day capitalizes on its co-op play to deliver an awesome action experience that’s incredibly fun to play.”
- AV Club: “[The morality choice] moments, and not the dull firefights, are the most memorable things about The 40th Day. They stir the mind and wake players, if only briefly, from what otherwise is a banal, trigger-happy, brain-deadening experience.”