Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel Review
Much darker and less bro-y then previous titles.
Author: Jeff McAllister
Army of Two made a name for itself back in 2008 as a third-person co-op shooter that featured two characters named Salem and Rios. The two iron masked characters, coated with enough armor to stop a charging car, were the most bro-tastic bros that ever did bro and the in-game abilities of being able to fist bump, play air guitar, and high-five, bro-ed that point home. In the latest release, the third game in the series,The Devil’s Cartel, Salem and Rios have been replaced by the incredibly bland named characters Alpha and Bravo and long gone are the bro-ing bro-titudes that made the series famous. It’s no longer a lighthearted romp while murdering scads of enemies that the previous games were, and introduces a much welcomed darker side to the series.
As the game kicks off, Alpha and Bravo are PMCs working for the TWO (TransWorld Operations) that have been assigned to guard a politician named Cordova in the drug-ridden streets of La Puerta, Mexico. As their convoy is attacked by the La Guadana Cartel who has an interest in seeing Cordova dead, he and the TWO are separated which then kicks off a flashback to five years prior showing the origins of Alpha and Bravo with the organization, and where Salem and Rios ended up. Once you are back in the present time, you and Bravo then have to fight your way through the gang-infested streets to recover Cordova and to try and take down those responsible, The Devil’s Cartel– which is run by Bautista and his cleverly named top man, “El Diablo.”
While the bro-tastic behavior may have been removed within the game, the witty banter that takes place between the two characters from time to time is still present. Topics that they discuss range from being off the wall hilarious, to being deadly serious about their plans for the mission. It doesn’t feel as goofy as previous titles and actually lends a bit of maturity to a game where you are killing waves after waves of enemies.
To help break up the relentless murdering that you perform, there are numerous times that you and your partner will be forced to split up and performs specific tasks. There will also be times that instead of just moving from cover to cover – which is the majority of the game- you will find yourself being a gunner in a helicopter or driving a truck, among various other activities that help break up the action.
Sadly, the back-to-back feature that the two players could perform in previous games has been removed along with the fist bumping and air guitaring, but the Overkill Mode has returned, and with the Frostbite 2 engine powering it, it’s simply fantastic to use. When you take down enemies, you will slowly start to build the Overkill meter that is located on the side on the screen. When it is full and you enter the mode, you and your partner become invincible and your unlimited bullets become colossally destructive. Shooting enemies will cause them to dismember in a fountain of blood, shooting cover will cause it to blow apart, brick walls will shatter, and cars and just about everything else in your path will explode impressively. When you enter Overkill Mode, it lives up to its name and you just completely and satisfyingly annihilate everything in your way.
When you are playing Solo Mode, without an online friend to take control of Bravo, you have a menu on the left side that you can use to give a small set of orders to the other characters. The orders range from being aggressive to staying put to cover you as you flank enemy positions.
You can also order him to toss out grenades and to enter Overkill Mode when his meter is full. Although Army of Two games have always been about playing co-op, when you do find yourself playing solo, the AI of your partner is actually decent. If you drop in battle, your partner will always find a way to come and rescue you, and if things are especially hairy, he will even engage Overkill Mode so that he becomes invincible so he can get you up. It’s a small thing, but one that could easily have been infuriating had it not been taken advantage of it.
Much like the previous games, you are also able to upgrade your weapons with purchases. Each time you kill an enemy, you will be rewarded XP on how the kill was performed. With the earned XP you will then gain levels, which unlocks tiers of different items. The XP earned then transitions to cash and with that cash you can buy attachments for your weapons and different masks and outfits for your character. The masks and outfits aren’t all that exciting to purchase or unlock until you get further into the game, but the ability to upgrade a whole arsenal of weapons with various different attributes and skins gives the combat a little more depth.
Not many people were expecting much from Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel considering the studio responsible for it was shuttered a month before the game’s release, but shockingly enough, it’s actually a fun and engaging shooter and has plenty of references to the previous games throughout its campaign. There is a story that gets darker and darker as the game goes on, and when an in-game character remarks “you could have seen that coming a mile away” about at the narrative’s big twist, he isn’t lying. Army of Two isn’t a game to make you sit and think on the politics of Mexican drug gangs or the metaphysical intricacies of the human psyche, but it is a highly entertaining time when you and a buddy get together online for some explosive and maniacal havoc.
Title: Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel