Army of Two The Devil's Cartel Review
Hockey masked mercenaries, over the top explosions, environment destruction, poorly attempted humor, and raining bullets seems to be the common make-up of the Army of Two series. Devil's Cartel, the third installment of the series, doesn't fall far from the tree. However, don't be too excited on having an adventure with Salem and Rios this round. Replacing our heroes are newly recruited mercenaries Alpha and Bravo who have been hired by Mexican politician Cordova to bring down the Cartel and their leader Estaban Bautista. The game starts strong with a real intense scene with the entire gang, but it is short lived. Alpha and Bravo are constantly shifting gears from saving hostages, Mayor Cordova, other T.W.O members or even themselves ... and sometimes all in one chapter. Multiply that process by 100 and throw in the occasional car chase, manning a machine gun in a helicopter, countless waves of Cartel, and you start to become numb to the experience. Alpha and Bravo are easily forgettable, though I understand the attempt to have the gamer envision themselves as our new protagonists. I would much rather have continued the saga with Salem and Rios.
Considering I chose to install the high definition package to the Xbox, Devil's Cartel isn't the most gorgeous games but the level of destruction you can ensue by blowing up a propane tank or shooting through a wall to crumble a building makes up for it. Combine that with the new Overkill feature which gives you temporary invulnerability, infinite ammo, and bonus damage and your screen will flood with beautiful debris and bodies. To achieve maximum destruction there is an "Overkill" feature which is achieved by killing the enemy with your partner and filling a visual meter. Each person has their own meter and once filled you are one button press away from raising hell. Combine both Alpha and Bravo's Overkill and the affect will last longer and you will also enter slow motion. This feature is by far the most satisfying to use though it does sometimes take the fun out of a boss fight when it lasts mere seconds when using Overkill.
Throughout the game the AI may appear fearless and relentless but it's actually very predictable and sometimes downright stupid. Your partner Bravo on the other hand is very capable of holding his own. When you are under fire, he will flank. When you are gunned down in need of healing, he will be immediately by your side. You do have some control over him and can guide him through a battle, but I found that there was one thing he isn't good at, listening. Bravo spent more time getting in my way when I was trying to guide him than when I just let him do his own thing. Another rather annoying part of the game is the cover system. Most shooters have a run and cover feel while Devil's Cartel is more of a clumsy point and cover. Seems simple enough, however it takes a lot of finagling the camera angles to get confirmation that you can move cover to cover. One saving grace is co-op. Devil's Cartel provides local split screen and online co-op. However, there aren't enough objectives in each mission to warrant it, although it does make the game pass by much faster. Having a buddy to blast through the Cartel is more enjoyable than having to cower behind cover and wait for the right moment to attack.
As you grind through each mission you will progress through a ranking system and by rewarded with cash dependent on the variety of death and destruction you rained down on the Cartel. The ranking system only serves as an unlocking feature to new items such as masks, weapons, tattoos, and shiny new armor to spend your cash on. It is a welcomed distraction and though it may seem you are getting bang for your buck, it doesn't seem to make a difference in actual gameplay. The weapon and attachment purchases may show you are getting more firepower, though I found enemies didn't die much faster. I found myself utilizing the overkill feature more than upgrading my guns.
Devil's Cartel doesn't provide anything new to the series - or improve on it either - but if you are a diehard Army of Two fan and want to keep up with Sam, Rios, and the new recruits' story I don't think you will be disappointed. There are a few plot changes that keep you on your toes, but they can sometimes be predictable. Nonetheless I kept finding myself plowing forward wondering what kind of environment the game would provide for me to lay waste to next. For those of you not familiar with the series it may feel like you are missing a piece of the puzzle, but the fast-paced, non-stop action will at least keep you entertained through to the end. Overall the game is rather short with about a maximum of eight hours to complete the campaign. After the fact you unlock an insane mode; however, other than that there is not much to leave you wanting to come back for more. Rent it and spend an afternoon with a buddy blowing up the Cartel and then move on.
Final Rating: 62%. Devil's Cartel has a "been there, done that" attitude, and after playing it you will, too.