Army of Two has never been known for its outstanding gameplay, realistic graphics or for its superb online play. However it was noted for being good fun which was partly down to the on screen camaraderie of the game's protagonists Salem and Rios. Enter Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel, the third game in the third person shooter series.
It’s at this point it’s best to tell you that EA have decided to all but remove this camaraderie ethos and instead of two charismatic characters in Salem and Rios who have taken a backseat, you’re left with two almost blank and uninteresting characters known as Alpha and Bravo. Yes that’s right, they don’t even have names. You do little to learn anything about them throughout the campaign asides from them being new recruits whose mission it is to rescue a political figure who’s been taken by the Mexican cartel.
That’s how the story plays out and that’s where your journey as Alpha and Bravo starts; you’re playing as Alpha along with either a friend via LIVE, split-screen or an AI controlled computer as Bravo. Straight away you are met with a pattern of events which never seem to change. Enter area, kill wave after wave, after wave, after wave of enemy Mexican cartel then move on to the next area to be met by similar if not the same resistance. This is of course mixed with some uninspiring cut scenes and to try and avoid the repetition even more, each mission is divided up into various different checkpoints where you are shown how much money you have made over the previous checkpoint.
Money is earned for killing enemies in different ways, for example you’ll earn more money with headshots and knife kills, as well as helping your teammate Bravo by distracting the enemy by running stupidly in the open to try and get the cartels attention.
Something which is quite apparent is the lack of co-op help you actually need. Very rarely are you asked to work as a duo but when you do it is fun. Sometimes Alpha will be shooting from a machine gun clearing the path below for Bravo to progress. It’s just a shame that EA seems more concerned that Alpha helps Bravo up walls, than working as a team to destroy the cartel. It is best played with a friend as this way you can divide the amount of cartel you kill within the streets of Mexico.
In fact that brings me onto another thing that annoys me about this game. Throughout the whole experience I do not recall seeing one civilian. We’re in the streets of Mexico and there are no signs of life outside the cartel anywhere, even when it’s just the two of you walking the streets. It just seems so lazy. This follows on nicely to the enemy AI who are uninspiring. Asides from just running out in the open with a knife to try and chop me in half, which really speaks for itself; they don’t seem very intelligent. At one point through one of the levels it was pitch dark, so I was walking through tunnels behind some guys who didn’t even notice the massive torch I was shining in their faces. I suppose in reality that doesn’t matter, but once you notice it you can’t help but think, why the hell can’t they see that?
Anyway I’m making it sound like it isn't fun, which I suppose isn’t really true as despite the clear problems, I did enjoy the 6-8 hour campaign which is certainly action packed with killing cartel and blowing up stuff with grenades. The new Overkill mode is fun although it does make killing even easier. In this mode, which is triggered after you have built it up, allows for a period of time infinite life and ammo as well as what seems more powerful bullets. It's at this point that your screen will ooze with bright and bold colours as everything just explodes around you.
Speaking of bright colours, the overkill modes great but overall the graphics are pretty shoddy and feel a bit dated. They are anything but groundbreaking and with the utmost respect to the design team, it just seems recycled. The banter between Alpha and Bravo is also laughable, but not in a good way. A couple of times I found myself saying, “really?” at a retort made by Bravo.
In terms of customisation one of the highlights is the mask creator. Yes you can purchase and upgrade your weapons by adding new sights and different attachments to it but the mask creation is what adds a personal touch to Alpha. I spent a little time creating the Iron Man mask for my amusement which, if I do say so myself, looked amazing.
Are you wondering why I haven’t mentioned online play yet? Well that’s because there isn’t any. The only online play you’ll get is if a friend or another Xbox LIVE user wishes to help you with part of the story, and even then that is bugged. Should a friend’s connection drop or they get a better offer (not hard) and leave the game mid checkpoint, you’ll be asked to either restart the checkpoint or go back to the main menu. This is highly infuriating as why can’t the AI just step in as Bravo, thus negating this frustrating flaw? It’s a sad state of affairs if in this day and age the best way to play multiplayer is via split-screen.
Overall I think there are far too many issues with this game to advise you to go out and purchase it. It is good fun in dribs and drabs so if you had a friend to play it with a rental will probably do you, but the severe lack of inspiration from the developers is evident throughout. It just feels like such a lazy game and it’s clear that EA wanted to capitalise on the fans of Army of Two. Sadly.
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|Aired: 2 Dec 2013|