Review: Army of Two: Devil’s Cartel

Posted: October 28, 2013 in Gaming
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Have you ever gone out to eat, be it a restaurant or fast food, and your food tastes exactly how you wanted it to? Well, that is what happened to me with Army of Two: Devil’s Cartel. I knew what to expect, I knew what I wanted and this game gave it to me just the way I like it … and yes, that just happened.

 

GRAPHICS: 10/10

If you want to make an interactive action movie, which is essentially what this game is, you have to have explosions. Army of Two delivers in spades (which, of course, I am partial to). Barrels, gas cans, grenades, grenade launchers, and other things that go boom are seen throughout this game, and every explosion looks amazing. There are even various cover types: some are fully destructible, some are partially destructible and others allow for cosmetic damage with no actual threat of losing cover. The detail put into the different cover types may seem very minute, but this detail is definitely not lost upon me.

Another big part of Army of Two is customization. The options available are beautifully detailed. From the pre-designed masks to the custom ones players can make for themselves; Visceral definitely put the Frostbite 2 engine to good use. The look of each customizable gun part is on point as one would expect, and everything from magazines to muzzles, stocks to scopes can all be altered to your liking. As a final point of note, both in the masks and in the tattoos, Inked Magazine has lent a hand by hooking up the Army of Two team with tattoo artists Paul Booth and Steve Soto.

 

STORY: 7/10

The story here is pretty solid. There is a logical narration to explain why you and everyone around you are dead set on destroying Mexico. My only knock against the story would be the lack of moral options. In past Army of Two titles, you would be given the option between two choices in a moral dilemma. In Army of Two: the 40th Day, you were shown the consequences of your decisions. Though there are definitely parts that would lend itself well to this type of player freedom, all the decisions are made for you. For most third-person shooter fans, this might not matter much, but to the Mass Effect crowd, well, you are not loved as much.

 

GAMEPLAY: 6/10

In the vain of simplifying games the further developers get into a series (Mass Effect and Dragon Age), Army of Two: Devil’s Cartel has lost a couple of steps. The aggro system is still present, but pretty downplayed. There is no on-screen meter or glowing aura to help you realize who is taking the most heat. The characters will occasionally shout out, “You’re clear, move up!” or “I got ‘em!” but these shouts seem more like misplaced dialogue than a real queue to make a move.

One major issue I had during gameplay was loading times. Loading screens, playing five-minute missions and having to stop at blue barriers while the rest of the stage loads completely throws off the pace of the game. Be prepared to be mid-charge through a tunnel and then have the “wait for your partner” notification pop up while your partner stands right next to you; not exactly smooth operators here.

The cover system is solid, which is essential if you are taking on half a country. Once you get used to the system, you will see it is pretty much point and click cover swapping. Once in cover, you lean around until you see an icon pop up at the new cover location. Simply press X or A, depending on your system of choice, and your character will crouch and sprint to the new location. The only rub here is it can take some time to get used to the cover controls. They can definitely come across as stiff and unresponsive until you get a better feel for how to do exactly what you want to do.

And now for the most important part: the shooting. The Frostbite 2 engine is put to fantastic use here. Headshots destroy skulls, leg-shots make enemies flip or just crumble where they stand and a good chest-shot will send an enemy flying if your weapon is packing enough firepower. Sniper rifles can potentially ruin an enemy ambush if you are good enough with your aim, and shotguns will ruin enemies’ day if they decide to creep around a corner. My only issue with the guns is the ineffectiveness of the customization. Actually, it may be more accurate to say the customizations do not really matter. Cosmetically speaking, whatever you put on your gun will be visible of course, but you may feel like (outside of a long range scope) your stock gun is just as good without the extra parts.

 

SOUND: 8/10

I am a huge fan of music in a game heightening the tension of a scene, and Army of Two is on point with the ambience. The firefights are definitely better for the musical selection. The voice acting is solid as well. You can believe the characters’ words, feelings and conviction in every word whether or not it is in English.

Unfortunately, there are some flaws. Instead of increasing tension when sneaking around or being ambushed, the music (along with the rest of the HUD) can actually give away the moment of surprise as it kicks in a second or two too soon. I am well aware EA has more money than it knows what to do with, but what are B.O.B. and Big Boi doing here? The Outkast, would have made far more sense as they are acknowledged as one of the best duos in hip-hop, but yeah…we got B.O.B. and Big Boi; seems legit.

 

ONLINE COMPONENT: 7/10

The online play is nothing groundbreaking. You can join up with friends or strangers to take on the campaign mode; pretty straight forward. It is a nice way to get more money for guns and customizations, but without versus mode or missions outside of the campaign, this will probably get old quick.

FINAL WORD: 7.6/10

Army of Two is a solid game without a doubt. Replay value on it is kind of low unless Visceral kicks out some serious DLCs. As with any Army of Two title, play this with a friend or a stranger; heck play it with an enemy, just have another person on the sticks with you or this game will just not be as fun. Kudos to the develop team for making Bravo a functional A.I. but this game is made for friends. Load up, put on your mask and get to work.

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