by Chris Davis
reviewed on X360
Bromancing the Stone (cntd.)
Some of the many changes to be found in The Devil’s Cartel are items that have been simply removed from the previous two games. The staple Aggro system that allowed players to draw fire and have their partners sneak around to flank the enemy has been toned down significantly to the point to where it simply isn’t noticeable. The series dynamic cover system has been replaced by a click-to-cover one and though it almost steals from Ghost Recon Future Soldier’s cover movement system, it doesn’t build on it. In fact, one of the saddest removals from the game is any form of subtlety as many areas of the game are just littered with chest-high walls that are clearly there for no other reason than for the firefight ahead. It’s almost laughable to enter into a street area to see nearly a dozen concrete freeway dividers spread out with little to no context as to why they should even be there.
Making up for the lack of a true Aggro system is the inclusion of the new Overkill mode. Similar to what Aggro attempted to do with offensive players, upon killing a certain numbers of enemies using skill shots (headshots, multikills, etc.) you enter a state of destructive madness, increasing the damage you cause by a considerable factor as well as giving you unlimited ammo for a short time. This new system feels incredibly gratifying as you feel like the popular 80s film character Rambo on steroids, allowing you to destroy every enemy in sight. It stands as one of the two highlights of this new game and is very invigorating.
The other major highlight comes from the game’s customization of weapons and masks. Customization has always been a strong suit of the Army of Two series as you’ve been able to make your weapons and masks your own but The Devil’s Cartel really amps up this aspect of the franchise to a whole new level. The degree to which you can customize your weapons and masks is almost mind-boggling and you can find yourself spending quite a bit of time doing so provided you have enough cash and a high enough rank to access the various parts and paints schemes.
Dancing with the Devil in the Pale Moonlight
Other than certain scenes encountered in The 40th Day, the Army of Two series has never been one for awe-inspiring scenes and truly inspired level design. The Devil’s Cartel somehow brings down the franchise’s reputation in this regard even further. Beyond just the rather visually dull environment design (even after the game advises you to install a HD texture pack), the level design you encounter seems to only have been made to fit the bill and nothing more. Considering the game’s rather long load times you would think that there would be some kind of silver lining visually to be found but it simply isn’t there no matter how hard you look.
One thing that The Devil’s Cartel does stand out for is its rather incomplete bug testing. It’s a wonder that this game made it through certification at all as there are an almost astonishing number of bugs and issues to be found in the game. No less than five times was this reviewer forced to restart from a checkpoint (if not at the beginning of the chapter) after a game-breaking bug prevented any progress from being made. The tutorial for the game alone forced a restart twice and several times throughout the experience the game froze, forcing me to restart from the beginning of a chapter.
A Deal with the Devil
At one time, Army of Two was a series with plenty of potential. Every mechanic in their games worked and it could have been perceived in 2008 that the series would go on to surpass Gears of War as the preeminent cooperative shooter. It seems that fate had no sympathy for this goal as we received the rather atrocious The 40th Day and this final, rather lackluster iteration. It’s clear now that the release of The Devil’s Cartel was simply meant to allow EA the ability to make back some of their investment in this project as, had they had the ability to recoup their losses elsewhere, this game would have been cancelled long ago. There clearly was no faith in this game as they decided to launch it both at the end of their fiscal year as well as on the day that a rather large sales monster of a game, Bioshock Infinite, launched.
Sometimes a plan just doesn’t come together and it’s clear with Army of Two The Devil’s Cartel that the series has no future beyond this generation of games. It is a shame to see the potential this series once had thrown in the garbage. There’s nothing to find of interest in this final entry in the franchise so the most sincere advice I can give to you, dear reader, is this: move on and play something else.
fun Overkill mode, strong customization options
heavily bug-ridden, bad story, uninspired gameplay