I bet you guys would have never expected to read some of the things I'm going to say in this hands-on bit, but my job is to report to you my opinions and express as much truth out of them as possible. It's a tricky concept, but it's what I do. I previewed Army of Two some weeks ago solely based on what I knew about that. After putting my preview together, I knew that EA had something potentially amazing up their sleeves. So I when I finally got the chance to play it last night, my feelings were confirmed: Army of Two may be one of the very best games of the 2007 show.

Army of Two runs on a tweaked version of Unreal Engine III, so tweaked that it may very well be the best use of the engine outside of Unreal Tournament III. You have to see this game in person to truly believe just how stunning it looks. The textures are absolutely marvelous. Everywhere you look there are details that are above what every other developer is achieving with the all new Unreal Engine. Moreover, with over two years of development time, the framerate was running tight at 30 frames per second.

And here comes the crazy stuff: based on the time I spent with Army of Two, I was able to conclude that EA's title is better than its closest competitor, Gears of War. The game features the very best implementation of co-operative gameplay an action game has ever seen. Take what you saw in Gears of War, and multiply that by ten. You can give your partner a boost, by letting him use you for support to scale a wall. Following that, you return the favor by reaching down and pulling up your partner that same wall. You can go back-to-back and go on a wrecking rampage of hell. And when you're not back-to-back, you or your partner can pick up an object off the ground (such as a car door) and use it as a shield. Meanwhile you're walking together, attached right behind him/her, firing away at the enemies surrounding you.

Army of Two employs a bunch of these co-op features between you and your partner, and I found myself completely engrossed by them. One of the core co-op components of the game is the Agro-Meter. The Agro-Meter is a meter that measures the aggression of one of the characters. The soldier with the most aggression will be lit in red, and enemies will focus their sights on him. With all of the attention diverted to one soldier, the other soldier goes into a ghost form and from here on he'll able to move around the environment freely, stealthily killing everyone he comes across, until your partner's agro-meter settles.

Then there's the whole healing aspect, which is a cool little process on its own. Just like real life soldiers, in Army of Two when your partner falls injured, you heal him by inserting tampons into his bullet wounds. The process isn't automated, like Gears of War, instead you'll have to perform a series of button taps to pull it off. And believe it or not, using tampons is a procedure actually used by real soldiers.

Army of Two completely blew me away. I'm really excited to play the final copy, and I can't wait until it's out for everyone to see.

Related Game(s): Army of Two

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