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Review

Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed: March 29, 2013
  • X360

The elements that made its predecessors interesting have been all but destroyed, making Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel a functional shooter but little more.

Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is a mostly competent, wholly soulless consumer product, the kind that might briefly satisfy your craving for action because it's new, if not particularly special or memorable. The third Army of Two game usually functions just fine, and its decent third-person shooting might even be enough to keep you gunning down one nameless grunt after another until there are no more grunts to gun down. But any spark the series has shown has been stripped away in favor of homogeneity. Like its two new protagonists, The Devil's Cartel blends into the background, unrecognizable among all the brown shooters that have come before it.

Those two heroes are Alpha and Bravo, whose function is to make the stars of the previous two games seem spectacular by comparison; even their very monikers give off the generic vibe the rest of the game so curiously exudes. If you're a returning fan, don't fear, for Salem and Rios have parts to play, and provide the only glimmers of energy in a story otherwise lacking in momentum and wit. For the majority of the game, the story can be summed up thusly: the titular drug cartel is bad, and so you must shoot up every cookie-cutter mercenary that stands between you and their bossman. The narrative lobs a few surprises at you near its conclusion, but the effect is akin to dropping a bomb on a desert; there's lots of noise and fire, but ultimately, the landscape hasn't changed much.

The path winding toward that bomb has Alpha and Bravo making their way through the usual places you visit when dealing with gaming's many drug cartels: dusty brown streets littered with cars that exist purely to catch on fire, weathered Mexican villages with graffiti scrawled across the walls, scrap yards loaded with rust-coated bins and barrels, and so forth. The two stop here and there to remind you of their mild "bro"ness by accusing each other of being gay, or grunting some nondescript action game dialogue, like "Watch out for ambushes!" For better or for worse, Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel lets the action do most of the talking.

Welcome to--wait, where is this again?

If only it had something more interesting to say. Like its predecessors, The Devil's Cartel is a cooperative experience; either another player or the mediocre AI joins you in your mission of blandness. The cover system has been tweaked for the sake of mobility, allowing you to press a single button to slip into cover spots some distance away. At most times, speeding from one cover spot to another works well enough, making it fun to slide from one safe haven to another. At other times, certain surfaces won't allow you to take cover, or your slick moves could go awry when you go accidentally charging into the wrong side of a wall and leave your back turned to a legion of cartel mercs.

Regardless, the tempo of battle remains remarkably even throughout: take cover, fire at dudes until they fall down, and repeat the process. The shooting is functional but toothless; enemy death animations and lackluster weapon noises muffle the oomph necessary to pull The Devil's Cartel into the realm of power fantasy. Enemies scurry into the levels in predictable ways, and you mow them down, or you shoot the copious red barrels scattered about the battle arenas and watch them explode, taking all these copy/paste gunners with them. Even on hard difficulty, triumphing in battle isn't particularly challenging, and on medium, you may not even see the need to take cover much of the time.

In this world, there are only good guys and bad guys. So shoot everyone!

To the game's benefit, several levels deviate from the corridor-shooting norm, opening up the environments and thus allowing the action to ebb and flow in sensible ways. It's nice to have room to maneuver, particularly when enemies approach from multiple angles, which is, sadly, not so common. It's too bad that mediocre enemy AI causes the game to so often fall on the "ebb" side of the coin, with soldiers sometimes failing to recognize your presence, or running right past your exposed buddy because they're so intent on stabbing you.

Like any given modern-day shooter, The Devil's Cartel fights repetition with occasional set piece sequences, putting you in charge of a helicopter's mounted guns, or behind the wheel of a coasting vehicle. The game ultimately loses this battle against monotony, though such set pieces provide the best moments, letting you momentarily revel in vehicular explosions and enjoy tearing apart the destructible environments that contain you. In many of these moments, you and your partner split up, one of you driving and the other gunning, for instance, or perhaps one of you charging through a small army while the other showers death from the sky. But for the most part, the game handles cooperative play in the most unimaginative way possible: by putting two people in the same place and having them kill stuff.

That's a disappointing direction for a series that has previously forced players to work together in clever ways. The aggro system has been downplayed to the point where it's not clear if a weapon's aggro statistic even matters, so no one needs to draw the ire of a dastardly fiend while the other winds behind and takes potshots. One of you can grab a riot shield, and the two of you can slowly push forward as a single unit, but The 40th Day's memorable back-to-back shooting sequences have been abandoned. The moral choices of that game have been dropped, too, and while The Devil's Cartel retains a weapon upgrade system, it lacks the personality of the systems that came before.

What a shame, too: blinging out your weapon in the last Army of Two game was a cheeky, self-aware delight. There are no more soda-can muzzles, screwdriver suppressors, or diamond-studded grenades--just the usual shrug-worthy scopes, suppressors, and so forth. You earn money for such enhancements by killing, which is to say, you needn't pay too much attention to this system in battle, given that you rake in enough dough to keep your gear effective. But if you prefer to exploit the economy and earn more money per kill, you can try for more melee backstabs (always a gory delight, thanks to some dramatic animations), flank your foes before shooting them, or fit in more headshots. Yet given the game's ease of play, you won't likely feel pressed to strive for maximum financial gain. In a game this simple, such an extravagant triumph rings hollow.

The cutting-edge Frostbite 2 engine was used to make this dull-looking game.

The other reward you reap for the act of playing the game is overkill. Gun down enough cartel goons, and you fill the overkill meter, which in turn allows you to go into a frenzy, temporarily filling everyone in sight with lead without fear of death or running out of ammo. Both players can activate overkill together, which leads to a slow-motion death spree, allowing you to again appreciate the destructible environments, with concrete chips flying about and entire cover opportunities being torn down. Such destruction is unfortunately the only way in which the otherwise dated-looking Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel visually stands out.

Given the game's cooperative nature, it's best to bring a friend along with you, not that you'll find that having a human partner is vital, since working together is usually unnecessary in a game that interprets "cooperative" as "sometimes you breach doors together in slow motion." But at least with another player you can avoid the AI's infrequent but annoying tendency to not properly follow the script and thus break the mission. Should you play on your own, expect one or two checkpoint reloads when your computer-controlled partner decides to hang around a pillar rather than move to the next destination. There's a downside to having a buddy join you, however: the third iteration of a series focused on two-player co-op doesn't support drop-in, drop-out play. If you want to invite someone else, you have to abandon your progress and start at the beginning of the chapter.

Now THAT'S cooperation!

Previous Army of Two games stood apart in their own ways, not always excelling, but still willing to hew their own paths. Engaging the opposition in a Shanghai zoo, escaping across a collapsed skyscraper, saving civilians from menacing threats--these are small but meaningful moments that might be etched on your psyche from the series' past. There's nothing here to make a mark: no creativity on display, no clever competitive modes, no sense of accomplishment. There's only a seven-hour campaign, optional missions in which you try to keep the overkill meter consistently replenished, and the knowledge that in a month, you won't remember having played Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel.

The Good
Some fun set pieces
The more open levels give you room to maneuver
Cover system encourages fluid movement
The Bad
All of the series' best aspects have been removed or toned down
Forgettable gunplay, forgettable story, forgettable characters
Requires little cooperation between players
Problematic AI
5
Mediocre
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel

About the Author

GameSpot senior editor Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play Rock Band because he always gets stuck pla

Discussion

504 comments
toby_hussein
toby_hussein

The title is good from a technical perspective - plays well and the usual blah blah. What kills it is the story - I mean seriously what gives ! Even COD manages a better campaign story.

dz99ls
dz99ls

I disagree with the review the game is pretty competent, I feel it should have at min a 6.5 but more like a 7/10.

Freboy
Freboy

They replaced Tyson and Rios with Alpha and Bravo...?

Really...?

So... someone looked at the two previous games and thought 'I think the two protagonists are a bit overbearing for this franchise. We should make them more... generic.'

And then, if someone asked them 'why?', I guess the reply went something like...

'Well, this game is about shooting guns. If they know the name of the guy holding the guns, the drooling idiots who are our customers may get confused and stop playing...'

DemoKnight10656
DemoKnight10656

this is Nintendo's fault you didn't update them enough didn't advertise just put them there. you all notice how the internet channel isn't going down? we all know what we used the internet channel for XD but now I cant use the Nintendo channel to see how many hours I used the internet channel for watching porno

JCSBEARMEAT
JCSBEARMEAT

For anyone thinking about buying this game pre-owned, be aware that an online pass is required to play with your friends online.....even though you already pay to play online and the campaign is the only substance in the game. I never though EA would stoop that low but then again it is EA.

supershinobi3
supershinobi3

Yesterday i was playing dead space 3 in coop. That game should be the real new entry in the army of two franchise. Sad...

joshferguson123
joshferguson123

I am an average gamer, with a need for a new game. I enjoy multi-player games. Or games with a great story and a easy way to get achievements. I play a lot of Call of Duty, Halo, Assassins Creed, Mortal Kombat, League of Legends, Madden games. But I need suggestions for new games to try out and play. And I need some new people to play with so you can add me on Xbox: turdyferg1e, Skype: joshferguson12345, league of legends: joshfergson123, Or you can follow me on twitter @turdyferg1e. I am also trying to get a youtube channel started so any suggestions or friend requests or anything will help thank you!!!

Olex2011
Olex2011

I think 5.0 is too low,bet anyway I'll still give it only 6.0...another good game going wrong path. It doesn't feel like real action game, it feels more like "toy soldier", it feels fake...

Vambran
Vambran

Have not played it yet but the a Review of 5/10 seems a bit harsh.

GasparNolasco
GasparNolasco

I ended up playing this co-op in a friend's house and it's not as bad as GoW Judgement.

I mean, both are soulless generic greyish brown shooters, with forgettable story and characters, but AoT has good weapon customization at least... why did one get a 5.0 and the other one a 7.5? Branding?

Anyway, sad that they stripped down all the cool comic book feel of 40th day, turns out that was the series main attractive. Really bad decision. I don't think we'll ever see one of those again.

justbe1112
justbe1112

it wasn't that bad. that bro bro stuff is stupid anyway.  good controls and attention to detail.  I mean what do u want, every game to be a potential game of the year.  there are way way way worse games.

Skrilla_XS
Skrilla_XS

And yet another EA failure...tsk, tsk.

Berty Remag
Berty Remag

I just complete it with my wife and we love it. Coop is fantastic on this game. We just missing those "trading" between Alpha & Bravo like Rios & Salem in 40th day. What we would like is a PC version. Don't understand why they didn't make it on PC. And give us a sexy female character...

Atermi
Atermi

I can't believe my eyes.
AOT:TDC is the BEST looking console game today (along with Ascension, while Crysis 3 is not HD). 
The demo was really fun, and the actual game is even more fun. The gunplay is good, cooperation is good, this game is overall GOOD. 
I can totally understand that this game has no solid plot (no Pathologic or Planescape Torment), but this game is just FOR FUN, and it is great at it! Co-op makes it even better.

Spec Ops The Line has awesome characters and amazing plot, but has generic gunplay.
AOT has awesome gunplay and generic plot.
Max Payne 3 has generic plot and generic gunplay. 

Of all 3, exactly Max Payne 3 gets the best score on all sites.... how typical.

berserker66666
berserker66666

Here's why EA sucks.

1. They MADE Army of Poo.

2. THEY made Army of Poo.

LukeWesty
LukeWesty

EA pumping out game's every year DLC riddled, code infested crap, influencing other game devs to follow suit... terrible.

doctorstone89
doctorstone89

not surprised. i fired up the demo and didn't even want to start the mission, maybe i wasn't in the mood but more likely i pre-emptively knew this game was going to be a pile of shit. Also fan boys don't bother commenting you have every right to still play the game, hell i played hitman absolution for a few months and still enjoyed it. Just don't take kevin's review to heart even though it's a stellar review

spawnholio
spawnholio

I was blown away by this review, until I realised it wasn't for a new COD game.


I thought GS were finally reviewing a COD game realistically i.e. "generic, generic, generic"


Oh well, better not hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

Freboy
Freboy

Really? They managed to screw up an Army of Two game? How? I didn't think that game had anything to screw up! 

It has hardly any plot, so you can't do like Mass Effect 3. 

It doesn't have sophisticated controls, so you can't do like Ninja Gaiden 3. 

It doesn't have a special atmosphere, so you can't do like Dead Space 3.

It doesn't have complex game mechanics, so you can't do like Alien vs Predator 3.

Army of Two is a cover shooter where all you do is shoot enemies. It's exactly the game that EA always WANTS to do. How can they mess that up? You'd think they could make a good AoT game accidentally by now. But no. They managed to screw that up as well.

Impressive. Most impressive...

electronic_eye
electronic_eye

@uklegendkiller - visceral actually had nothing to do with the development of it. Game Informer's review expounds on this. It was either a scrapped plan by EA or simply a marketing ruse.

yearssomuch
yearssomuch

Ah, more negative press for EA. Can't hurt.

udmatador
udmatador

lol....why would you buy this game?  it looked awful since the start...

LAboy06
LAboy06

This must be an April's Fools joke. I found the demo to be really fun, and more entertaining then the first 2.

mokalid
mokalid

Wow EA really begin to suck these days

TruthSerum808
TruthSerum808

Sure the character names are generic,  the story is nothing to write home about, and the graphics are good but not "spectacular". But in spite of all of that Army of Two TDC still manages to be an extremely fun game because they nailed the controls and most importantly the shooting. Throw in being able to customize your character and guns and you have a solid alternative for someone who doesn't feel like jumping on the Bioshock bandwagon. 

C0v3rtUnis0l
C0v3rtUnis0l

And another beloved franchise mercilessly slaughtered by EA. 'The 40th Day' was something that I loved as a game and as the adrenaline you would get out of playing split screen with all the back to back cutscenes as well as the morality choices (lets not forget rock paper scissors) were the highlights of that game. What is this watered down BS? 

Why EA? WHY?!?!?!?!

FighterforJC
FighterforJC

People who play violins and have sexual relations with their PC should not be reviewing action games.

Rayrota
Rayrota

EA quality right here!

Alucard_Prime
Alucard_Prime

Demo was a lot of fun, definitely getting this soon.....hands full now with other games so hopefully there will be a price drop by the time I get this. 

OrNiGhTZ
OrNiGhTZ

Ah I get it , today's april fool so he's kidding ..

ggregd
ggregd

Hey, all the people who think reviews should be "objective" and only discuss whether games work mechanically or not and ignore subjective things like fun - this game is an 8 or 9 in your world.

ggregd
ggregd

I keep reading the box as "Army of Tito."  I'm imagining some Cold War Yugoslavia thing.

branin05
branin05

I tried the demo and it looks and feels really good. That being said the only thing stopping  me from buying this game is the fact that a game like this usually isnt very long...

josh7845
josh7845

@joshferguson123 I recommend Bioshock (1, not 2), anything from Rockstar, anything from Valve, the Mass Effect series, the Resistance series (if you can get your hands on a PS3), the Fallout series etc.. I probably have more suggestions but I cannot think of any right now, but hey, those'll keep you busy for a good while.

LukeWesty
LukeWesty

@Atermi  

Max Payne 3 was better than this steaming pile of dog shit, even if someone gave me this game I just straight up throw it in the bin.

ZombieJesus007
ZombieJesus007

@Atermi Maybe because Max Payne 3 was a hell of a lot better than Spec Ops and this crap pretending to be Army of Two.

nic1357
nic1357

@LAboy06 yea it must be an aprils fools when an army of 2 game is shit. must be.

Itmeow
Itmeow

@TruthSerum808 For some people the most fun part about games are the characters and story. When a game fails to provide a reason to keep shooting beyond it having good controls and fluid movements, it makes it hard to actually keep playing.

bobnice
bobnice

@C0v3rtUnis0l Lets not forget we used to be able to:  Pick up a 3rd weapon, swap weapons with co-op partner, Co-op snipe, drag wounded partner to safety, praise or ridicule partner, mock surrender, fake death, go to armory at any time, dive roll, attach under barrel shotguns, search for unique parts, go back to back, capture enemy elites and force his minions to surrender and tie them up or kill them...what a shame, why take these things away...TDC is truly watered down.

And why the F did you have to take away my favorite character, for those that played you know what I mean.

TroubleMaker411
TroubleMaker411

@FighterforJC ah yes! only meatheads that do nothing but pump iron and go to the shooting range should review them huh?  

With that in mind, people that make stupid and completely backwards comments either trying to be funny or offensive should not be allowed in functional society and should instead go back to licking the windows of their school bus.

Grow up.

FighterforJC
FighterforJC

@branin05 I love the game and it does not feel short, and I mean that in a good way.  Call this game "repetitive" or what not, it gives you large doses of what we want in shooters; shooting bad guys and blowing stuff up.  There are no attempts to slow things down or change the tempo besides a few on rail shooting segments, but the fact is you're always shooting, shooting, shooting, and it doesn't feel short at all.

FighterforJC
FighterforJC

@LukeWesty Uhm no.  Max Payne 3's combat was clunky at best.  It has high production values and it's an overall better video game than Army of Two The Devil's Cartel, but Rockstar tried so hard to be different from all other 3rd person shooters and ditched familiar, standard controls just to be unique.  Archaic non-regenerating health messes up the flow as well.  Devil's Cartel isn't trying to be epic or deep, but the gunplay,the gameplay is 10 notches above Max Payne 3's.

josh7845
josh7845

@FighterforJC @Freboy Are you attempting to ask him if he is one of those people that thinks games are art? Because they are art. Films are art, literature is art, theatre is art, paintings and drawings are art and games are art. This game is essentially like a Michael Bay movie. Fun to see all the cool animated explosions, but in essence it doesn't particularly enrich our lives.

Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel More Info

  • First Released
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is a third-person shooter where players assume the roles of mercenaries battling a Mexican drug cartel in the town of La Puerta.
    6.8
    Average User RatingOut of 278 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel
    Developed by:
    Visceral Games
    Published by:
    Electronic Arts, Media Five
    Genres:
    Action, Team-Based, Shooter, 3D, Third-Person
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Strong Language