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Video Game / Army of Two

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Army of Two is a 2008 third-person shooter from Electronic Arts, featuring two Private Military Contractors, Elliot Salem and Tyson Rios.

The story starts Salem and Rios as members of the 75th Army Rangers in Somalia, where they're ordered to assist a PMC named Phillip Clyde eliminate Mo'Alim, a Somali warlord. Following the completion of the mission, SSC CEO Ernest Stockwell offers Salem, Rios, and their CO positions in his company.

Salem and Rios get spiffy new armor, evil-looking masks, and a huge selection of weapons. They take missions from Alice Murray, and as the game progresses, Rios starts connecting seemingly disparate events, and the Army of Two start unravelling a plot of War for Fun and Profit that threatens their lives and the fate of the free world.

A major mechanic of this game is "Aggro", summed up as the amount of attention you currently have from your enemies. Bigger and flashier weapons garner more aggro, and therefore, more attention, allowing your partner to move around unnoticed, while smaller, quieter, and less noticeable weapons allow you to let your partner draw attention. Aggro is represented by a meter on one side of the screen; players enter Super Mode by maintaining their place with the Aggrometer buried on one side until Overkill is activated.


The sequel, Army of Two: The 40th Day, sees Salem and Rios travel to Shanghai, China for a seemingly simple contract and get caught up in a cataclysmic attack on the city. The game features numerous improvements, including massively expanded weapons customization, civilians to be rescued, moral choices and new co-op techniques like mock surrender.

A third game was released in 2013: Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel. which follows Alpha and Bravo, two soldiers working for Tactical Worldwide Operations in the middle of a Mexican drug war. In order to make the game a much more straightforward action game, the game removed most of the trademark gameplay mechanics like back-to-back shooting, co-op and AI interactions, and renamed the Aggro system.


This game provides examples of:

  • Abandon Ship: Hilarious to anyone familiar with Naval vessels, but in The 40th Day, Salem and Rios are desparately looking for a lifeboat to escape the aircraft carrier at the end of the level...running by dozens and dozens in the background (either the programmers didn't realize the large pill things are lifeboats, or ignored it for game purposes).
  • Action Girl: Alice proves she knows how to handle a gun in The 40th Day. Fiona after she Took a Level in Badass after the first mission of The Devil's Cartel.
  • Action Survivor: The sequel will feature the protagonists trying to get away from a disastrous terrorist attack on Shanghai while they happen to be there on another mission. On the other hand, they aren't your normal bystanders.
  • A.K.A.-47: Zigzagged. All three games use a mix of real and fake names for their guns.
  • Always Save the Girl: Rios opts to save a female cartel hostage in the first mission of the third game over Salem's objections. This is what causes Salem to join the cartel, as he resented Rios choosing to save a hostage over him and leaving him for dead
  • Anti-Climax: There's no real buildup to the final boss of The 40th Day, and in fact, he's not even a boss fight, just a Sadistic Choice in human form. Most people agree that 40th Day is better than the original on most points but a lot of people also really hate the ending of the game.
  • Anyone Can Die: In The Devil's Cartel. Most of your fellow T.W.O. operatives will not live to see the end of the day, and the same applies to named associates and enemies. In fact, of the several named characters only four survive: Alpha, Bravo, Rios, and Salem.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The M134 minigun. Awesome because of its high rate of fire and intimidating appearance. Impractical because of its spooling-up time, which is longer than most of the windows of fire you'll have.
  • Ax-Crazy: Phillip Clyde.
  • Armor Is Useless:
    • Subverted, certain enemies are so heavily armored that they are invulnerable from the front by bullets. The player(s) themselves certainly are much more durable when wearing better armor later in the game, and as compared to the Mooks.
    • Played straight for Alpha and Bravo in the third game, all the armor choices are purely visual, with the leather jacket and t-shirt protecting as much as a full body suit of top of the line armor.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Salem and Rios go back-to-back once per mission to fight a small wave of Mooks.
  • Bash Brothers: You play as two, pretty much.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Salem is not 'little', but Rios is distinctly taller and heavyset in comparison. The usage of intellect in reference to the trope is arguably reversed - Rios is stated to be a more moral and thoughtful person than Salem, the latter being mostly concerned with getting paid and spending it.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!:
    • You can actually "pimp" your weapons with gold and chrome finishers, diamonds, etc, to increase Aggro. The sequel allows you to put camouflage paint on your weapons to decrease it, but the bling option is still there and reaches its extreme with diamond-encrusted frag grenades.
    • In the sequel, if you apply the Pimp paint job to a RPG-7, the Aggro meter breaks the scale.
  • Blown Across the Room: Certain guns are apparently powerful enough to knock enemies down even if they haven't depleted their Hitpoints.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Invoked whenever Back-to-Back Badasses occurs, or when Overkill is activated.
    • The Devil's Cartel has the "still have to reload, but never run out of magazines'' variant for sidearms. Fair enough when you're using a 9MM pistol, but downright ridiculous when you have a .44 magnum revolver.
  • Broken Pedestal: Rios' old mentor Colonel Ferrel becomes one of his main antagonists throughout Dirty Money, having all of his skill and none of his morals. When they first fight each other Rios has his first and only case of Selective Slaughter.
    • Salem seems to have become this to Alpha and Bravo after they discover that he's El Diablo.
  • Bullet Sparks
  • Bullet Time: Only when Salem and Rios go back-to-back or during Overkill in the original. In the sequel, you get a few moments of it during Co-op Mock Surrender.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday - Bautista pulls this on Fiona. Followed by a speech that solidifies just how little he cares about how he hurts others.
    Bautista: I have killed many fathers and mothers. Taken many children. Faced down many little girls and boys with guns pointing at me, screaming for revenge. And I tell each and every one of them the same thing: I. Don't. Remember. You.
  • Call-Back: There's a panda mask in Devil's Cartel.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: During the China mission in the first game, while a chopper full of troops is landing, Salem asks Rios about his favourite Wu Tang Clan member.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Clyde drops them repeatedly. The dialogue of the game was supposedly this in general, but most of it was cut.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Rios tends to sway into this realm during the first game, and is mocked for it by Salem.
  • Cool Guns: All the entries appear in Army of Two.
  • Cool Mask: You can choose which one to wear in the first one, and the sequel is set to let you design your own.
  • Cruel Mercy: In the third game, Alpha and Bravo are initially determined to kill Salem for betraying them. After defeating him in the final boss battle, however, they choose to turn him over to the Mexican police instead, leaving him to spend the rest of his life in jail.
  • Curse Cut Short: Bravo drops the mother f bomb as the truck he's riding in gets hit by an RPG round in the opening sequence of The Devil's Cartel.
  • Cutscene Boss: Dalton is not fought in the original, instead being quickly and anti climatically offed in the final cutscene. EA did later release a free DLC expansion where you do fight him head-on, though.
  • Cut Scene Power To The Max:
    • Salem and Rios are Immune to Bullets and capable of several other feats of awesome, but only when you're not controlling them.
    • In the third game, Chuy and Baker unleash a storm of well-coordinated whoopass as they rappel down from the roof to aid Alpha and Bravo while our two protagonists head to the extraction point.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: In The Devil's Cartel, Salem mentions taking a bullet for Rios to save Shanghai as one of his reasons for his Face–Heel Turn, implying that Rios shooting Salem was the canon choice at the end of The 40th Day.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • The 40th Day seems to be going down this path, with a darker tone, moral decisions, and recast voice actors for our protagonists.
    • The Devil's Cartel is a bit of a zig-zag. When the game can split even the strongest of Heterosexual Life-Partners, ones whom we've seen experience the events of both previous games in the series hand in hand, you know it's not meant to be a light-hearted fare. But on the other hand, the game does have more humor compared to the 40th Day, and it isn't as relentlessly downbeat overall.
  • Deconstructed Trope: The second game deconstructs morality choices. Every time you make a choice when the game prompts you, you are shown a flash-forward of events influenced by this choice, events that Salem and Rios will, in fact, never come to know of or even suspect. The positive or negative morality of the choice you pick often has little direct bearing on these events. It's possible a choice that seems like the decent thing to do will lead to the suffering of others, being a bad person could lead to a favorable outcome for those involved, or the result could be completely neutral.
    • Examples: 'Kill the Contact;' Kill him or spare him, it's your choice. If you kill him, you get paid, he dies. If you don't, you don't get paid, and he is later killed by another assassin while on vacation.
    • 'Free Guns;' The bad one is to rob a guard station, causing the guard who comes in to die accidentally. The other is to leave the guns, then the guard sells them to the terrorists currently invading Shanghai.
    • The decision with Brezhnev; The bad ending is to take the $75,000 bribe, and have Brezhnev kill the secret KGB agent. The "good" one is to shoot Brezhnev non-fatally, and then the agent shoots him. Then, her true mission of killing "political dissidents" is revealed. Next, she goes to a hospital, and shoots Brezhnev's wife and is about to shoot his child when Brezhnev shoots her.
    • Some of those decisions do work out the way you'd hope they would, sort of. Not having the kid die to get you the sniper rifle means he goes home and rescues his parents. He's a bit traumatized by his day, but they're safe and sound. And sparing the tiger has it escape to kill a couple of robbers.
  • Disney Death: In The Devil's Cartel, Salem appears to die in the prologue mission when his truck gets blown up. It turns out that he survived, and is now working for the cartel.
  • Dope Slap: In the trailer, one of the main characters hits the other main character on the back of the head and says "What the F*** are you doin'!" Watch it here, at about 30 seconds in.
  • Double Agent: Phillip Clyde works for SSC and gives troop positions to enemy forces, causing massive casualties and forcing the US government to hire PMCs.
  • Draw Aggro: A common way to win in the games is one of the players makes themselves a prime target so that the other player can sneak around and attack the enemies from the side or rear.
  • Escort Mission:
    • Two in the "carry them to safety" vein: SSC Op Brian Hicks and Alice Murray.
    • This was the overarching purpose of the T.W.O.'s mission in the third game—to escort a mayoral candidate who promises to clean the city of drug cartels—but things go pear-shaped very rapidly. Nonetheless, you do "escort" the candidate on an occasion or two, though he's smart enough to stay out of harm's way if at all possible.
  • Everything Is Online: So s3kshun8 can hack it. This is deconstructed at times; for example, s3kshun8 can't hack a digital keypad, he has to take the model number and find the manufacturer's back door code.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Salem does this in the third game because he feels Rios and the rest of the company left him to die in the first mission of the game.
  • Faceless Goons:
    • Inverted in that Rios and Salem are the Faceless Goons. The dehumanizing aspect of this trope has been noted by the developers, who have, in The 40th Day, made Salem and Rios push their masks up when out of combat to humanize them to an extent.
    • The elite troopers the Cartel starts sending after you in the later levels of The Devil's Cartel almost all qualify.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Salem and Rios start "Trans-World Operations" in the ending cutscene.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The "Chapters of Deceit" DLC for The 40th Day has its achievements bugged. If you have any of the online multiplayer achievements that came with the game, you will be unable to get the same number of DLC achievements. See here for more info.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: Apparently Alpha has one.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Rios has a rather nasty gash on the right side of his face throughout all three games; it serves more to accentuate his toughness than anything else. Alpha of The Devil's Cartel sports a cut held together by staples below the corner of his left eye, and it adds an occasional edge of menace to his cool, consummately professional personality. Salem gets a set of burn marks on his face after the first mission in the third game, which goes well with his Face–Heel Turn.
  • Gun Accessories: With the money earned from missions you can purchase things like foregrips, extended mags, laser sights, and ballistic shields to stick on the front of your guns.
  • Handicapped Badass: After the first mission of The Devil's Cartel, Rios had to get his left leg amputated below the knee. This does not stop him from being a major badass.
  • Happy Ending Override:
    • Despite the duo (and Alice) attempt to stop the privatization of US Army successful, The 40th Day shows that PMC has becoming much powerful that they can took on Shanghai undetected.
    • Despite there is a choice to prevent the duo killing each other in The 40th Day and it's proven to be canon, The Devil Cartel has Salem, one of the duo, becoming rogue and become the leader of the eponymous antagonistic cartel.
  • Heroes of Another Story: Chuy and Baker are implied to do even MORE badass stuff than what Alpha and Bravo do during the game.
  • Hetero Sexual Life Partners:
    • Salem and Rios, arguably, but there's a lot of Ho Yay.
    • At the end of The 40th Day, if Salem and Rios shoot Jonah, they consign millions to their deaths because they don't know there is no nuke. This is played as The Power of Friendship, not apathy.
    • Alpha and Bravo to a much more subdued extent.
  • Honor Before Reason: Rios exemplifies this in the original. Less so in The 40th Day, somewhere between the two in The Devil's Cartel.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: A chief mechanic in the second game.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here: In the first game, there are hardly any moments where you're going downhill. The levels are almost entirely flat or uphill. the last half of the final level takes place in the SSC Tower.
  • Karma Meter: The 40th Day introduces two Karma Meters, one for Camaraderie (your ingame relationship with your partner, improved by complimenting them or doing silly stuff with them, reduced by shooting them or expressing disapproval with their actions), and one for Morality (your treatment of your enemies and allies - for example, shooting a surrendered enemy reduces your morality, while any enemy defeated non-lethally increases it).
  • Kill It with Fire: The 40th Day has a flamethrower-wielding enemy, and you can take it once you've killed him.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Devil's Cartel makes several jokes about video games, including Exploding Barrels, referenced by Bravo("Don't you know? red barrels always explode!")
  • Leet Lingo: Everything s3kshun8 says is rendered in leetspeek, making it very difficult to understand for most people.
  • Meaningful Name: The Senator who supports the bill to privatize the military thus supporting the PMC that's deliberately getting US soldiers killed to increase its own profits is Senator Richter. The good-guy Senator trying to stop it is Whitehorse. Ernest Stockwell owns SSC, a company whose stock is doing well.
  • Mega-Corp: Halfway through the Iraq mission, SSC purchases Black Mountain Industries to become the largest PMC in the world.
  • More Dakka: And the more dakka you have, the more dakka you get. You can even cause your guns to have less dakka if you want to get less dakka back.
  • Mysterious Past: Alpha and Bravo in the third game. In one banter during the first mission, Alpha states that he'd done hostage extraction missions before, suggesting a prior career in police or military special forces (which fits well with his disciplined, professional attitude); Bravo replies that his job involved more "enforcement", but when Alpha asks if he'd done law enforcement, he offers a noncommittal dismissal of the idea, implying that he did "enforcement" of a more criminal nature.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: El Diablo, the lieutenant of the cartel boss, in The Devil's Cartel.
  • Never My Fault: In the third game, Salem wants revenge on Rios for letting him get captured. Never mind the fact that the only reason he got caught was because he tried to abandon the mission when Rios chose to save a hostage that they weren't ordered to retrieve.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The China and Miami missions take place in 2009.
  • No-Gear Level:
    • A segment during The 40th Day forces you to pick up guns from people you kill as you go along.
    • A similar segment follows after Alpha and Bravo are taken captive by the Cartel in The Devil's Cartel.
  • No One Could Survive That!:
    • Phillip Clyde survives going down with an airliner. He may have also survived getting kicked out an office tower window, but the sequel has announced he won't be returning for it.
    • Elliot Salem survives his getaway ride getting blown up from under him in the first level of the third game. The protagonists do not find out for a while, however, and The Reveal comes as quite the shock to both of them.
  • Noodle Incident: Subverted; the dialog about the panda incident is written like these usually are, but with an 'extra' line at the end abruptly confirming that it's exactly what you're thinking it is. Apparently, the panda started it.
  • No Party Given: Neither US Senator involved in the issue of privatizing the US Army is identified by party.
  • One-Man Army: Well, a two man army, but still....
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Happens when either Salem or Rios max out their aggro. Example below:
    Rios: It's time for the Tyson Rios Show!
  • Personal Space Invader: Stabbers from The Devil's Cartel, knife-wielding enemies who rush the player and force you to engage in Button Mashing to kill them.
  • Psycho for Hire: Phillip Clyde really wants to tell you about all the cool shit he wants for Christmas. He also has the habit of carving bloody smiles into the people he kills in Dirty Money.
  • Ragdoll Physics
  • Rape as Drama:
    • Implied; in the first game, when Alice is being asked what was done to her by the SSC operatives aside from the bullet wound, her answer is, "You don't want to know."
    • In the third game, this is the reason Fiona wants revenge on the Big Bad.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The game is frequently criticized for having its protagonists act like fratboys. Anyone whose seen Generation Kill or is familiar with actual mercs (or even high-morale military units) knows that it's not that far off. Yes, even down to the Ho Yay.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • In an ironic inversion of the usual pairing, the much more muscular and intimidating Rios is a more moral and level-headed thinking person, while the short and athletic Salem is an impulsive and money-focused Blood Knight.
    • In The Devil's Cartel, Bravo is the red oni while Alpha is the blue one.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In The 40th Day, just try not to laugh when Salem and Rios discuss the panda incident.
  • Revenge: One of the major themes of The Devil's Cartel, ranging from Fiona's vendetta on the Cartel to Salem striking out against T.W.O. as The Dragon to the Cartel boss. Enters Cycle of Revenge territory as Alpha and Bravo embark on a quest to kill The Dragon for everything he's done to the T.W.O.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The original game name-drops real world terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda and Abu Sayyaf and is steeped heavily in themes from The War on Terror.
  • Rule of Cool: Not many PMCs employ battalions of bemasked, heavily armored soldiers, but damn if it's not awesome.
  • Sadistic Choice: In the ending of The 40th Day, Jonah's confronted with an extremely angry Salem and Rios. One has to kill the other or he'll set off a nuke his men have placed in the city. Extremely effective because we've learned by then that the entire purpose of the attack is an experiment to see how people will react. This conceals the fact that Jonah is lying, because it's perfectly in-character for him. Canonically, they didn't take the bait.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!:
    • Overlaps with Screw The Money, their Mission Control asks them if they want to let the authorities handle it legally, but they decline as they know the Big Bad is currently in the process of killing witnesses and destroying evidence inside the HQ.
    • Also an option in The 40th Day, in some circumstances. The major choice you're offered in the demo is "Kill the ex-SSC contact or let him go". The consequences are shown to you immediately, but sometimes, you're exchanging a reward now for a reward later.
  • Sequel Hook: The third game has a major one, where Elliot Salem gets a mysterious visitor while in prison.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker: In The 40th Day, enemies will sometimes use civilians as human shields. You can do this to them but if you're not careful it's possible to kill the enemy and the civilian with the same bullet. Also, your partner can rescue you this way if an enemy holds you hostage.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Downplayed example. While the shotguns in Army of Two are shorter ranged than shotguns in real life are, they are eminently effective at both medium-range and close ranges, which is far beyond the effective ranges of shotguns in most video games.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Salem goes into his 2X Damage Overkill, one of the lines he shouts is "GAME OVER, MAN! GAME OVER!"
    • Likewise in the comic Dustin, a former ranger friend, comments on Rios "Rocking the Skeletor," look.
    • Nearly every achievement on the 360. Some of the better ones:
    • Some of the mission titles are shoutouts, as well. Part of the Aircraft Carrier level is called "Somebody Set Us Up The Bomb".
    • May be a coincidence, but two of the parts you can use for the M110 KAC sniper in The 40th Day are the S-L42 Charon barrel and the RMS Jericho V6 stock. Charon and Jericho are two possible NPC followers in Fallout 3
    • In the same vain, one of the sniper rifle barrel upgrades in both games is the MGS Sniper-Wulf.
    • In the first game, the M92 pistol features a barrel upgrade called the "Samurai Edge;" this was the name of the custom 92's used by S.T.A.R.S.
    • In the third game both Isaac and Carver's helmets from Dead Space 3 are available as a mask.
  • Sniping Mission: Salem and Rios can "Co-Op Snipe" to take out two separate targets, or focus their damage on a single target.
  • Sociopathic Hero:
    • Salem and Rios seem to have very little problem with killing a whole lot of people. Sure, the people they kill are bad guys, and trying to kill them, and they also happen to be trained soldiers, but... Rios is arguably the more heroic/idealistic one in the original. In the sequel, Salem is, from early trailers and the demo, more idealistic/heroic and Rios is just jaded and bitter, essentially trading positions. In the third game, the two of them trade positions again, with Salem being bitterly cynical and Rios being more of a Knight in Sour Armor.
    • Alpha and Bravo are much more... Well, "sane" than Salem and Rios in their game. They are pretty detached about all the killings and mayhem they commit, but are much more professional and moral than the other duo.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Salem's name is misspelled as "Eliott" in one of the mission objectives in TDC.
  • The Starscream: When El Diablo contacts you after you've killed his boss in the third game, it sounds like he'd planned for things to happen this way so he could take his place.
  • Stealth Parody: One interpretation of the game's over-the-top action, oodles of Ho Yay, and questionable depiction of foreigners. Preview articles for the first game made a point of talking about the amount of research they had done. Yes, that includes the tampons. Yes, that happens in real life.
  • Sticks to the Back: Your sniper rifle or RPG.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Taken to absurd levels in the sequel, where virtually the entire first level is various Shanghai buildings exploding. And a good portion of the second. And the opening of the third.
  • Super Mode: In overkill mode, one mercenary becomes an unstoppable killing machine who never needs to reload and does double damage while the other one becomes invisible, also never needing to reload.
  • The Syndicate: Black Mountain industries in the backstory comic was involved in such dirty business as hiring out muscle to Chinese Triads, narcoterrorists, Kosovo paramilitary groups, and shipping Eastern European sex slaves through New Orleans. Nice guys.
  • Tattooed Crook:
    • Maybe not criminal, but certainly morally ambiguous; Alice, Salem, and Rios all get significantly tattooed up after the time skip in the original game, and Salem can be seen with the beginnings of his ink in the earlier levels.
    • Alpha and Bravo both have tattoos that symbolize their personality. Alpha, the calm, professional, and more moral member, has one tattoo with an angel, while the hot-headed and 'us over them' thinking Bravo has various chaotic tattoos on both arms.
  • Timed Mission: Destroying a missile and escaping the USS Constellation before it sinks.
  • Title Drop:
    • Every bit as goofy as the rest of the game when it shows up.
      "You two were amazing back there! Like of two!"
    • More subtle in The 40th Day, where Salem and Rios now wear gear embroidered with the acronym of their company, Trans-World Operations.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Salem at the beginning of Devil's Cartel, big time. And he gets even worse.
  • Trading Bars for Stripes: Elliot Salem joined the army to avoid serving a sentence.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Alice Murray and s3kshun8 again. Amusingly subverted in The 40th Day, where Alice still works with Salem and Rios and is supposed to fulfill this role, but because she is in Shanghai as it's turned to rubble, she has no internet connection, gets the small amount of information she has by overhearing some guys talking while being held prisoner by the 40th Day, and can barely talk to the protagonists through her unreliable radio.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: Like all co-op shooters, if one half of the team dies, the game is over.
  • Villains Never Lie: There's no nuke.