The bromantic game that is Army of Two is back for its third installment. As with the previous two games, Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel game is full of co-op love and has you killing a whole bunch of drug cartel baddies.
Numerous changes have been to this game that make it a bit different than the other two games. The graphics are nothing short of being on par with games that are currently coming out at this time. The dialogue is as brotastic as ever. There are enough enemies to quench your digital killing thirst. The customization is better than before and includes more options for customizing. Before the game was released, it was marketed as a game that takes on a more serious “Army of Two” tone, but throughout my time with the game, I was wondering when that tone was going to come into play.
The single player in The Devil’s Cartel doesn’t follow American ex-military mercs Elliot Salem and Tyson Rios anymore, but instead Alpha and Bravo take over the reigns. That’s not to say Salem and Rios don’t come into play at all, they just make cameos. This is one of the many numerous changes developer Electronic Arts made when they decided to release this game. In tune with this change, a lot of twists and turns in the story come into play that make it possible for all four characters to be tied at the hip. If you are big fans of Salem and Rios then you might not be too happy at how the story progresses and ultimately concludes, but at least it won’t suffer the same backlash as Mass Effect 3 did.
The Devil’s Cartel has the same gameplay mechanics as the other two installments as far as the “run, shoot, and take cover” mechanic is concerned. The Devil’s Cartel is missing the back to back, slow motion shoot-outs against enemies, but does include a new Overkill mode. Overkill mode allows Alpha and Bravo to turn into super human, shooting machines. Overkill gives you more fire power, unlimited ammo, no reloading, and invulnerability. In order to fill the gauge for Overkill mode, you and your partner earn points by doing different maneuvers such as successfully flanking a group of enemies or killing a multitude of enemies within a couple seconds of each other.
A missing mechanic from the previous games is the ability to drag your teammate away if he’s injured. At least if your partner goes down then he still has the use of his sidearm that can be handy as enemies swarm over the crippled duo.
The aggro system isn’t quite the same as it has been, as it doesn’t seem to be as effective. Even though the aggro system is not as apparent, you and your friend can still utilize it to your advantage.
While some may find the dialogue annoying, I really enjoyed how The Devil’s Cartel didn’t take itself seriously. The characters broke the fourth wall numerous times, calling out red barrels and how they always explode, how tutorial sections are always ridiculous, and plenty of other meta moments. There are a few sections in the game where the dialogue made me laugh out loud, but the banter was dull overall.
There’s not too much in the way in level variety. For the most part Alpha and Bravo will be in Mexico working through drug cartel shanty towns, adobe buildings, and the occasional drug lord mansion. Co-op sections where you’ll need to hoist your partner up or hold a door open are pretty few and far between. The sections in which you’ll split up from your partner -mostly so one covers high while the other is down low- work well enough too and most times if you’re partner is down you can make it to them to revive them.
The seven hour campaign experience will provide little challenge on normal difficulty and once you are finished plowing through the boring narrative, the game offers some additional online modes. There’s no competitive multiplayer, unfortunately. However, the co-op suite is less than stellar in its offerings. It’s not a drop-in/drop-out game and requires both players to play through a whole chapter before it saves your progress. It also restarts the chapter if someone wants to join or if the other player drops out. It’s crazy that co-op, the main selling point for this game and the entire reason that the Army of Two franchise even exists in the first place, doesn’t sport a tighter design or features that are present in other games where the co-op isn’t as popular.
There’s also a persistence system which seems to double your income, used for purchasing upgrades, if you play co-op as opposed to single player. As far as connectivity is concerned, the online works with virtually no lag and I could find players pretty quickly using the quick match options.
All in all, The Devil’s Cartel is a letdown for sure. It lacks what made Army of Two great, and desperately tries in other departments to make the game shine, but unfortunately, EA has failed. Play co-op with an awesome friend to make the game worthwhile.