Army of Two originally “a buddy cop kind of game”

Moving from the unique title Spore to a more conventional one like Army of Two: The 40th Day must have been an interesting experience for EA Montreal’s Alex Hutchnsion. We caught up with the ex-Maxis dev on the show floor of Eurogamer Expo 2009 on Saturday to get his views on the original title now that he had been tasked with making the sequel a must-have. “I thought it was a very brave game to make,” he began as we watched over The 40th Day‘s zoo level being played out in front of us, “Everyone at first kinda thought it was a Gears of War clone, but I really don’t think that it is. I think the reason it sold well is that the core fantasy is very strong, the idea of you and me against the world, you and your best friend.”

Army of Two did have many similar aspects to Epic’s franchise, but a focus on co-op certainly helped it to differentiate itself. “I don’t have 40 friends to go on a raid with, or play a big online game with. But I have 1 best friend that plays the game and for me that intimate experience is really powerful. I thought they were brave to go after that in the first game.”

“Originally the idea was to make a buddy cop kind of game, so for me this was a kind of spiritual successor to Contra. It was cheesy and this kinda 80’s vibe to it.” The relation between the classic Contra series and EA’s shooter is kind of striking when you think about it. Army of Two may not go over the top in quite the same ways, but the idea of two American muscle bound heroes teaming up and kicking the crap out of pretty much everything hasn’t been so clearly replicated until Rios and Salem came along.

The problem was perhaps exactly that, while the American audience embraced this loud arrogant style, Europe weren’t quite buying it. Hutchinson went on to expand upon the poor European sales he talked about in Friday’s developer session by saying, “The problem was that America understood that it was a joke, and Europe thought that everyone was being serious. They thought it was an earnest comment on mercenaries, when in actual fact its two best friends shooting the crap out of things.”

Of course, Hutchinson wasn’t insisting that Europe were in the wrong, his demonstration of how the sequel will balance out the serious chatter with the banter earlier shows that the team are catering for both preferences this time round.

Army of Two: The 40th Day is available on the 12th day of January 2010.