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Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel Review

Joshua Vanderwall | 4 Apr 2013 22:00
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Where Bravo's AI is surprisingly adept at dodging bullets and sticking to cover, the enemy AI is noticeably less talented. The enemy units will spend some of their time hiding behind cover, only popping out occasionally to take a shot, but they also have a tendency to wander around out in the open for extended periods, or rush face first into a blistering shower of machine gun fire. The suicidal tendencies of the enemy AI is even mentioned during the in-game dialogue, lending enough levity to make it humorous, rather than just being an apparent fault in design. You can bet that when you're playing on the more intense difficulties the enemy AI will be savvier in a gunfight, but blasting through the opposition on the regular difficulty can seem suspiciously trivial.

Devil's Cartel is broken up into several missions with smaller subsections, each of which helps push the plot forward. Each of the 49 sections lasts between two and twenty minutes, so you'll get between 12 and 15 hours of campaign gameplay. The system is very well implemented, such that you can pick it up and put it down practically anytime you need, with little to no loss of progress. If your play sessions are frequently interrupted by work, family, or other goings on in the real world, you can't help but appreciate this setup from start to finish.


With each section you complete, you'll earn some cash based on your performance which can be used to purchase unlocked weapons and character customizations. The bulk of the bonus money is awarded for teamwork kills, so if you want to maximize your income, you'll need to focus on cooperation, rather than the solo play you're typically rewarded for in shooters. As you earn cash, you'll rank up and unlock more items which become available for purchase. This system offers a meaningful sense of character progression as you unlock bigger and badder guns, as well as allowing total customization for your loadout, from sniper rifles for precision kills to LMGs for mowing down the cartel en masse.

Once you get through the campaign, you'll be left wondering what to do next. You can go back and complete the missions again, aiming for a higher score, an increase in leaderboard rank, and some extra money, or you can conscript a buddy to play through the game again with you on co-op. That's pretty much it. There is no end game to speak of, and there's no real multiplayer either. Co-op, which can be played online or locally via split screen, is as good as it gets, but the campaign is the same in co-op or solo, so if you've made it through the missions by yourself, finding a comrade in arms isn't going to do much to keep you interested. The last thing you'll likely do before you put down the game entirely is to spend 30 minutes playing through the Overkiller contracts. In this mode you play through small snippets of the story missions, with the goal of taking down a mini-boss and escaping with your lives. Of course, as the name suggests, you'll have Overkill active practically the whole time, so it's mostly just a matter of moving invincibly through the level as quickly as possible while racking up a high score so, as an end game, these missions are seriously lacking.

Bottom Line: Ultimately, Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is easy to pick up and fun to play, but generally lacks in distinction. The co-op centered gameplay is a neat trick, but it doesn't do enough with the co-op mechanics to really set itself apart.

Recommendation: If you're looking for something to play with a friend, and you're not too interested in character or plot development, Devil's Cartel should be right up your alley.

This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.

Game: Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel
Genre: Shooter
Developer: Visceral Montreal
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US), Amazon(UK), Play.com(UK)

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