Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel Review

new-4star2

“Army of Two” has already established itself over the last couple of years with two decent title releases, but has failed to take over the third-person shooter market. With this third entry in the franchise, the game brings us two new main characters and can easily seen as a standalone game as much as it can be seen as a third entry. If the title isn’t revealing enough, the game focuses on two player co-op and is Electronic Arts’ attempt to take some sales away from titles such as “Borderlands” or “Gears of War,” games better played with friends. Whether you are an established fan of the franchise, or an avid gamer, this game has all the potential but still disappoints.

Even with several attempts at the games with and without friends, the Army of Two franchise has never been able to entice. It could be the lackluster graphics, poorly written protagonists or the-less-than stellar gameplay, but something about the first two entries always felt off. After watching trailer after trailer of the third entry, I was excited. It might have just been because Bobby Ray was promoting the game, but the trailers seemed interesting and in about ten hours, the game was conquered.

Using the same engine as “Battlefield 3,” the game handles unbelievably well. We see a cover based shooter much like “Gears of War,” but the world is almost entirely destructible. Running through the streets of Mexico, cars, watermelons, walls and everything but the buildings can be broken as the campaign plays out. After downloading the HD graphics, the game looks flawless, more realistic and engaging than almost any other shooter on the market. Take those graphics and add this destructibility and you have a game that really immerses you in the characters.

Playing as one of two agents, Bravo or Alpha, you are a mercenary for hire in the streets of Mexico protecting a local mayor. The game dives right into the action, when your caravan of trucks are hit with RPGs within the opening minutes. After a flashback mission, you are then set out on your quest to traverse the drug and gang-riddled streets of Mexico, and save this governor from the hands of the cartel. What the story does extremely well is create banter among our main characters to establish them as people, and entertain; there was more than one moment when I found myself cracking up at the back and forth humor between our nameless heroes.

The story establishes a couple of villains for these heroes to battle, from the silent machete tank to the Joker-esque “El Diablo” and does a good job at making them appear throughout the campaign. It establishes these villains and continues to make the gamer hate and fear them, though the game does slip. The story is somewhat see-through, and many big moments later in the campaign can be called out and realized really early on in the story, ruining these unmasking moments.

Though the story is no Shakespeare in terms of depth or mystery, it is an engaging and fun tale that keeps gamers immersed and the outfitting helps this as well. The game has a variety of weapons, all of which feel and handle like their realistic copy, and gamers can spend money they make every mission to buy and improve these weapons. With a level system in place, the player will level up and unlock the more powerful weapons as they play the campaign with the potential to unlock the max level and all goods in one play through. Although they can buy all the weapons, you will have to replay the game to get enough money to own them all.

After you own and equip a weapon, you can go through and buy up to six different attachments drastically improving the way the weapon handles and allowing you to customize it to your play style. The game succeeds most in letting you create a mercenary who is truly your own.

From masks, clothing options, tattoos and weapons, there is a plethora of unlockables that allow you to make your character yours. In every cut scene, you see your version of Alpha/Bravo with the armor you equipped and the mask you either equipped or made. The game immerses you in a character that is truly your own and handles it exceptionally well.

After the decently long campaign ends though, you are left wondering what to do. One play through allows gamers to unlock all of the masks, armor, tattoos and reach the max level, so all that is left to do was collect the guns, but gamers won’t be inspired to jump back into a campaign they beat. There were no multiplayer features and aside from overkill missions, all you could do was replay levels, which was something I wasn’t compelled to do.

The new overkill feature is really cool, allowing you to build up steam to unleash whenever you see fit. When in overkill mode, bullets blow off body parts and give you invulnerability, which makes you feel like the ultimate solider. Keeping that going, the melee kills were all beautifully animated. Though the same group of kills was used over and over, each one was bloody and different and just had a “wow factor” about it.

The game is definitely well-polished and artfully made. The gameplay and customization draw you in and immerse you, keeping you playing even when the story falters. This is a game you will have fun playing, especially with a friend, but once you master it you will be left looking for more. Hopefully the next title will give more to the franchise, but this is a shooter that any fan will enjoy.