Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Army of Two: Devil's Cartel

Release Date: March 26, 2013
Played On: PlayStation 3

I have this weird obsession with the Army of Two series. I literally have an Army of Two with one of my buddies, where we play through each of these games, leveling up our weapons like a job.

By the time the Devil's Cartel came out, we were both busy and looking forward at the Playstation 4. Devil's Cartel fell off our radar pretty soon after it's announcement.

But one night filled with drinks and reminiscing, we found ourselves picking up copies from GameStop, with full intentions of playing through.

I turned my PS3 for the first time in almost 8 weeks, and after downloading a brigade of updates, we were ready to take on the cartel.

What I didn't like

Army of Two obviously didn't hit the way EA thought it might in the world of cover shooters. It was apparent because each game seemed to have a significant drop in budget.

The first game was broken into five 90 minute levels. Each taking place in a very different environment. It had a fully fleshed out story, a huge amount of weapons, and played really well.

The second game took place completely in China. Even though it was in one country, you still fought in varying locations like the streets, office buildings, and even a zoo.

The Devil's Cartel, takes place in Mexico. One street looks like the other. Every now and then you'll be in a building and they'll call it a hotel, but it looks exactly like the warehouse you were in before.

The enemies hearken back to the beat-em-up days where there's like five generic guys you battle against. There's shirtless bald guy with sunglasses, there's guy with the military vest, there's the guy with the bulletproof vest, and there's the machete guy. Every encounter is a combo of that.

Some of the enemies can feel like bullet sponges. And since the AI isn't all that intelligent (they basically either run at you and shoot, take cover and shoot, or throw a grenade) you really notice that a machete wielding man takes almost an entire magazine to take them down.

The previous games did a great job of building levels where the sniper rifle or the shotgun is best. You had to balance your team. I was typically the assault rifle, shotgun guy and my buddy was the sniper rifle and submachine gun guy in the previous titles.

Devil's Cartel forces you into towers to use the sniper rifle. It feels fake. And beyond that, there's not much need for a long range rifle. Most levels you rarely switch off of your primary weapon.

What was OK

Army of Two is a franchise steeped in ridiculousness. These big brooding bros throw masks on and just drip with testosterone.

Although the one liners and the air guitars and high-fives are muted in Devil's Cartel, they do a great job of making you feel like you're in a Fast and Furious film.

Some of the guns, like the shotgun, feel incredible. Some of the guns, like the mounted machine gun, feel too light. Overall, you're not going to notice one gun from another other than the reload time.

What I liked

Despite my complaints above, Devil's Cartel is a great couch co-op game. I've had the best times having a few beers, fighting through tough areas, making fun of dumb plot points with a buddy. 

It's a fun cover shooter that was lost in the generation of the cover shooter. 

The customization of weapons and armor is pretty deep. My irritation with the first Army of Two was that everything was available for every gun. In Devil's Cartel, it seems like only certain scopes or suppressors are available to each gun. While that sounds limiting, it creates the "balance" that I felt was lacking from not needing a sniper rifle. Do you want a shotgun taped to your assault rifle? Do you want a grenade launcher taped to the submachine gun? Yeah... you can do that. 

Final Thoughts

There are better cover shooters out there like Gears of War, Splinter Cell, and Mass Effect 3. But Army of Two is likely the cheapest out of all of those and is this weird game that will likely be forgotten to time. It's a remnant of the 2000's version of bro-extreme and Linkin Park. 

I really can't even recommend this game as the best in the Army of Two series, but it still is fun somehow. Maybe that's the problem with trying to rate games? We put too much pressure on a bunch of number sliders and forget that sometimes a game is just dumb fun.

Rating: Skip it unless you really want a new co-op game.

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