- Fun to be had in the short time that Overkill is activated
- Customisable masks!
- Everything that made AoT good has been taken away
- The whole package feels too generic
- Looks worse than the last game
- Is worse than the last game
Back in 2008, EA launched the original Army of Two and it was a blast. While it might have descended into endless bouts of fist-bumping, “ooh-rah”s and constant over-the-top action, it at least had its own identity and embraced what it was. The two central characters, Rios and Salem, had a bond like brothers, and most importantly they felt like an actual two-man army. The sequel wasn’t quite so impressive, mainly due to it being strewn with bugs, but it was still miles better than this rather forgettable effort from new development team Visceral Montreal. And no they’re not the Dead Space guys, they’re the other lot.
Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel is an apt name really, because as soon as you’ve played the first main mission you realise that the game has sold its soul to Satan. It seems devoid of everything that makes AoT what it was – there are even two new protagonists called Alpha and Bravo which pretty much sum up the originality on show in a nutshell. The classic interactions as you an your partner clear a battlefield are gone, there’s no sense of anything unique and there’s nothing to encourage teamwork beyond a couple of token set pieces and slow-motion door breaches. Both of which you could do on your own.
The story, if you can call it that, sees the two Tactical Worldwide Operations (T.W.O) operatives strive to take down a drug cartel and the key figures at the head of it. After being dropped in the middle of the conflict you’re constantly thrust into a series of predictable scenarios such as “shoot this nasty man” or “rescue this hopeless bloke that’s tied to a chair”. As the campaign unfolds you’re aided in battle by a number of other characters dropping in for cameos too, which makes you wonder why they didn’t go all out and call it Army of Forty Thousand and invite the whole American military at the same time.
Thanks to everything that’s been ripped out, you’re left with a tedious third-person shooter that has nothing in the way of personality. Levels are, for the most part, small arenas littered with places to use as cover. There aren’t too many issues with the cover system , but for some reason the game decides that some pieces of perfectly good scenery cannot be used. That essentially leaves you in the middle of the battlefield, absorbing bullets like some kind of suicidal sponge and reloading the nearest checkpoint.
The game pans out like pretty much any generic action game out there. You’re swamped with waves of copycat enemies with the occasional luxury of a slightly tougher brute, and the bullets cut through targets like butter. It’s fast-paced and leaves little to be thought about, and it’s only punctuated by one-off events such as a gun battle from the back of a truck, and a sliding descent through a fiery inferno. Both of which sound way more exciting than they actually are.
The only semi-unique feature the game has is Overkill, rack up enough kills and/or assists and a tap of L2 turns you into an invincible killing machine for a short period of time. Bullets turn into one-hit-kill mortar-like shots, and the whole level can be savagely ripped apart as you blast through the destructibles around you. What’s more, should both T.W.O operatives activate Overkill at the same time, you get an extended timeframe and a super slo-mo to help out too. In fact, it’s Overkill that’s probably the star of the entire game.
While there are a lot of weapons on offer, which you can buy from the shop with earned cash as you rank up, it’s hard to tell the difference beyond cosmetics on a lot of them. Machine guns all feel identical, and it’s only when you delve into the modifications that you start to notice a difference. The attachable scopes and enhancements to accuracy and damage are noticeable, but equally it’s possible to get through the game with the basic model of your starter gun.
That’s mainly because the complexity of the A.I sits somewhere between a Lemming and a lump of cheese. Enemies pop out of cover in a similar fashion to one of those fairground games, while others show a blatant disregard for safety and just charge at you while you pick your spot. Even the on the odd occasion that they do get the better of you, you can be revived by your companion, so there’s not really much to fear.
Incredibly, the game also manages to look worse than the last two games. I’m not sure whether it’s rose-tinted glasses, but I remember the other games looking half-decent if not jaw-dropping. The Devil’s Cartel is a brown mess with ugly textures, and looks more like a high-end PS2 game than it does a title from this generation. With the next wave of consoles just around the corner, visuals should be peaking now and not making the game look like it’s been chucked together in one miserable afternoon.
Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel is only an AoT game in name. The new characters have no personality or likeability at all, and the fact the over-the-top shenanigans of Rios and Salem have been axed altogether is a crime that can’t be forgiven. What you’re left with is a generic shooter that does little to excel, and is comfortable with sitting in the middle and looking pretty ugly at the same time. It’s safe to say that this is probably the final Army of Two game that we’ll see, unless EA have something dramatic planned to turn around the fortunes of the ailing franchise.