on 19 June 2013
Army of Two Devil's Cartel was a game which stood out for my house-mate and I as there are very few games which have a complete and well considered co-op element to them in this current console generation. Firstly in terms of graphics, while there is no moment in the game which will make you gaze at the screen in appreciation of how beautiful the scenery looks, the graphics are very solid creating a believable war-torn Mexico as you would expect from the frostbite 2 engine.
Secondly onto the gameplay. Devil's Cartel is a co-op third-person shooter and, as with the franchises previous two games, has clearly been made with co-op in mind. This is shown with a number of great set-pieces, where the two characters are both put in a different position and have to use the advantages of their situation to help the other player. A highlight of this was my house-mate sniping from a evaluated room clearing the path for me while I made my way through a torn-up airfield to reach a hostage. Added to this, as with the other games, there are sections where you can give your partner a boost up to a rooftop to try and give yourself a tactical advantage. However, while these set-pieces are a highlight of the game, the sections in between them do not produce much to define it from other shooters. Many objectives in the game are to fight your way from A to B, and even though you can gain extra points for working with your team-mate by getting decoy and flank kills, its just as easy to run through the middle and not use teamwork. This problem is made worse with the return of overkill from the first game. Once you have built up enough kills you can activate overkill mode, where you and your partner become invincible and have infinite ammo for a short amount of time.
In terms of the storyline, this is where I feel the game was a bit of a let down. The story is quite predictable and the narrative doesn't do a huge amount to try a get you emotionally attached to the characters. This game sees the players take control of two new characters called Alpha and Bravo, with Rios and Salem (the playable characters from the first two games) still playing a big part in this story. It is the job of Alpha and Bravo hired by a Mexican politician to bring down the cartel and its leader. While the two share some cheesy and sometimes quite amusing jokes between each other, the narrative and dialogue is not at the level of the top games on this generation.
On other points, the customisation in this game is very good. The players can choose between a large collections of different masks and outfits (some such as clown and Viking masks are quite funny to play with). The choice of guns is also pleasing and like the masks are customisable. At one point towards the end to the game, I had a gold camo gun with about five different attachments and a shield of the front. A strange choice, however, was the exclusion of the high fives and air-guitar actions which your characters could do in the first two games.
Overall, while the game is by no means a classic, its still a fun game to play with a friend. If your looking for a good and fun co-op experience with a game that doesn't take itself too seriously, then this game is definitely worth a go, especially now the price has dropped.
I'm new to the Army of Two games and after playing this game in co-op mode with a friend (which appears to be the intentioned and therefore best way to play)I can't say I was completely won over. The story very hard to follow, I understood I was a gun for hire type in Mexico fighting the drug gangs but that's about it. The script is knowingly absurd dripping with testosterone but also includes quite bizarre lines ('I like the way you did that!')and while its probably meant to be comical it just baffled me. The controls are where the biggest issue is, I kept trying to find cover but despite pressing the button my character wasn't ducking. I lined them up to the blue area where cover was offered but still didn't work a lot of the time. I admit I prefer first person to third person shooters but games like Deadspace prove that third person can be done well. I think this game offers something for people who just want a fun game they can play with their mates and I did have a laugh playing it with my housemate (especially having to heal each other) but ultimately it a pretty hollow shell of a game. Its the equivalent of a pop corn film, fun at the time but with little else. I realise you can buy new weapons and change all your equipment but even here I didn't feel the exitement in this,games like Borderlands does it better frankly. The graphics are fine, not spectacular but not bad either, average. If you are a fan of these games then you already know what to expect and I guess you'll like this instalment but for me I'm not convinced on the wave of co-op games sweeping the industry at the moment and much prefer a single player experience and by that I'm including annoying AI second players.
on 21 April 2013
If you've never played an Army of Two games before then it's probably best to understand early on that this won't be in contention for game of the year. The series has always been an OTT testosterone shooter with dumb AI, inconsistent graphics and a lousy story - The Devils Cartel is no different.
But you don't play AoT because it's a great game, you play it because it's fun to play with a friend. Either over the internet or split-screen, AoT has always had numerous gameplay mechanics to encourage two friends to work together by covering each other, going back-to-back and the occasional unnecessary fist-bump. It doesn't take itself entirely seriously and has seemed to be content with being an accesible no-frills shooter.
The Devil's Cartel is similar in many ways, but unfortunately removes some of the features that made the previous game endearing. Many of the co-op actions have been removed and now come down to the occasional split-path sections and turret sequences. The interesting Aggro system is still here, but without on-screen indicators it generally feels less relevant than in the previous games. Customisation is still a large part of the reward system in the game, but more often than not it feels like your choices don't really matter all that much due to the fairly unresponsive and unsatisfying shooting. Enemies still behave fairly stupidly and rarely ever provide much of a challenge other than by attacking you in sheer numbers.
The campaign spans about 50 missions, with a number of locales and some set pieces thrown in. The game uses a number of circumstances to try and switch things up, but they never feel as interesting as they could be. Just know that generally the formula is clearing rooms and rooms of enemies. The story feels completely irrelevant until about halfway through where things pick up a bit. You probably won't care all that much about what happens, but there are some twists and turns that make the story worth paying attention to. Once the story is done, that's pretty much it. There are no other modes and the only incentive to play again is on a higher difficulty or to gain more money to spend on more upgrades.
Overall, TDC is a pretty average shooter that despite having numerous flaws is still fun to play. I think some of the critic reviews I've seen may have been a bit harsh, but it goes without saying that you should only buy this if you know exactly what to expect. There's better games out there, but if you've completed all of the other co-op shooters about then this is worth a run-through with a friend.
(Warning: If you buy this game pre-owned, you'll probably need to buy an online pass to play co-op over xbox live)
The Army of Two games are a bit of a guilty pleasure. Big on over-the-top action with facemasks everywhere and blinged-up weaponry, but small on story, particularly the last game in the series, The 40th Day.
At least with The Devil's Cartel, there has been an attempt to redress that. Previous main protagonists Salem and Rios take a bit of a back seat this time around, and instead you get the horribly generic Alpha and Bravo to play as. The plot then revolves around Mexico, the drug trade and your mercenary, sorry, private security company T.W.O. (Trans World Operations). There are a couple of surprising/ridiculous twists and to be fair, the plot does keep you playing.
And this is important, because otherwise The Devil's Cartel isn't the greatest play ever. It's more of the same without much innovation and gets a bit repetitive. Playing in co-op mode helps sustain interest, but in single player it can get a bit dull. There are a number of spectacular set pieces, but it's all been done before. At least the AI is pretty useful if you lack a human partner.
To look at the game is fine and the presentation is generally pretty slick. It's a competent and decent game, without ever being particularly great. Army of Two has always had potential as a great franchise, but with this game I worry EA have blown it. Time will tell.
Army of TWO: The Devil's Cartel is a third person action shooter built around co-operative gameplay. How you want to approach this is up to you - you can match up with another player online, play locally in split-screen, or play solo and let the computer control secondary character Bravo, whilst you take the role of Alpha. If you're thinking of playing this game solo, rest assured that the computer AI does an adequate job in assisting you, although he never offers an opinion outside of scripted dialogue and I would have liked the ability to issue him commands using the Kinect microphone, which sadly isn't a feature.
Set in Mexico, there are some decent scenery set pieces, and the inclusion of two Mexican characters that your team sometimes fights alongside and at others has to rescue goes some way towards offsetting, at least a little, the overwhelmingly negative image this game portrays of Mexico as a country with the drug cartels' guns at its head. Before starting the game, I'd recommend going into the mask editor where you can create a mask using up to 12 layers from a bank of over a hundred symbols that you can resize, rotate and colour to make your character's face protection into a work of art that features in the cut scenes. More customisation options open up as you play the game, in the form of weapons, outfits and tattoos which you buy using money that you earn from your kills. Perhaps real life mercenaries do not get paid extra for melee kills and headshots, but in this game skill kills and combo shots are important to level your gear up.
Whether you're interested in this game or not may have a lot to do with the fact that this is an arcade-style shooter, with a meter that fills up with each kill and, once full, makes you both invincible and your bullets do about four times the damage. This makes it fun, but also comes with a serious downside - when it runs out you usually find yourself standing some way away from cover and taking damage from enemies whose location you're not sure of because you were distracted by all the carnage going on, or they have only just spawned. This can be a serious, and often fatal problem on the higher difficulty settings. Another distraction is all the text on the screen at eye level, just where more enemies could be hiding. This text, which is even more of a nuisance on the smaller split-screen areas, informs you of the points for each kill. Frustratingly, you can't turn it off.
Another annoyance is the lack of an in-game manual. Most games that don't have a printed manual in the case, do have one in the game - after all, a lot of people download games over Xbox live now, or the other consoles' equivalents. There is a short training stage before the game begins but, as one of the characters even points out, it's just going through the motions. I had serious trouble in working the cover system for the first two missions and finally figured out what it would have taken five seconds to discover using the manual. Once you do get it sussed, the cover system is good. Or at least, it is good when it works. In the heat of battle I sometimes found my character standing out of cover instead of running towards where I had pointed him. At other times he refused to crouch down into an area of cover I was standing right in front of. I experienced other bugs in the game, most annoyingly being that twice whilst playing I found my path blocked by an invisible wall that told me I hadn't cleared out all the enemies to secure the area. I went back and checked, but there was no-one there. The first time I had to restart the mission, but the second time I saw a disembodied arm sticking out of a closed door, waving a machine gun at me as if begging to be put out of his misery, or perhaps embarrassment. I shot him in the hand and was then able to leave the area. Another bug saw me fighting off someone who was trying to stab me, whilst a friend of his tried to stab me through his friend's back whilst another lined up for his turn instead of just shooting me. It would have been hilarious if it had been intentional.
The first few missions, whilst they have a bit of variety, do make you worried that the game is going to fall into a very repetitive pattern. However, there are several elements of variety brought in for short periods, such as a sequence where you get a van and can either choose to mow down suicidal thugs who run out in front of you, or man the chaingun on the back. Either way, it's over in a couple of minutes and although you can move between left and right side of the road, it's basically "on rails". Later on you can drop mines out the back of a van as cartel cars pursue you, and shoot cars or people from a helicopter. It's variety, but it's all "on rails" and fairly formulaic. There's also a zombie-like sequence in a crypt where you light the way with a flashlight and thugs run at you with knives, that's quite fun but it's over all too quickly.
There's no doubting that the game has a lot of mindless fun in it, but the environments do contain many opportunities for flanking the enemy or them doing the same to you. Cover is destructible, so you have to be careful where you pick to hide. Crates offer flimsy protection, cars offer a lot more but can be set on fire and blown up. It's fun to blow away an enemy's cover and watch him scarper for his life. It's good that (running in front of cars not withstanding) enemies at least make some attempt to save themselves... well, sometimes - for they think nothing of running to crouch down by a red barrel, something that the game's protagonists even joke about in the first mission.
The Xbox version of the game has a lot of secret achievements and others that are not secret that rely on you meeting quotas for certain types of kill. Other nice features include the ability to go seamlessly from menu page to rifle range when you're browsing which new gun to spend your blood money on, and being able to shoot enemies with your sidearm when lying injured on the ground waiting for your team-mate to heal you.
I got somewhat addicted to this game, using up valuable days of my holiday to play it, but I'm going to tell you this - to make it fun to play I ended up changing the setting to EASY, as the damage you receive in normal mode seemed to prolong the game to the point where the pace was boring me and I was getting annoyed from coming out of invulnerability one moment to be lying injured on the floor the next because the enemies I'd killed in "overkill" mode had died and new ones had spawned where they hadn't been before I entered the mode. On normal difficulty, I probably wouldn't have bothered continuing the game to the end. If you're wondering, I usually play shooter games on the harder difficulties, and if overkill mode was not a feature here, maybe I myself would have gone for the long-game - for if you use cover sensibly, you can avoid a lot of the damage. Thing is, if you do that then the game moves way too slowly and the rewards you get for progressing are not, in my view, worth it. Also, when you die after just a few seconds out of cover yet "brute" enemies only go down after five or more seconds of shooting them in the face, you feel as if things need to be balanced a little more in your favour.
I can't help feeling that The Devil's Cartel needed a few extra weeks in testing and development to iron out some of the bugs and put right the annoyance factors and oversights. For example, the title screen mentions a "night mode" in the audio but doesn't explain it. It also suggests I play "TWO Contracts" for an extra challenge outside of the game, but I couldn't find any extra contracts. Overkill mode could have been made better by putting damage levels back to normal before the invulnerability wears off. If this had been a brand new game series I would have put this down to not enough play testing, but this is the third game in its series. Also, you have so many options to make your character look unique but no multiplayer deathmatch mode in which to show it off in. The story was also nothing special, which perhaps it didn't have to be the way that I was playing the game, but if you've been playing it on hard for a challenge and hoping to be rewarded by a good story, you may be disappointed. And another thing that may disappoint you: The boss sequence at the end is a complete letdown.
on 27 March 2014
This game is fantastic, It has a lot of key components that make it a very enjoyable game.
First off as far as I can tell the game only has solo and coop gameplay there is no versus game mode. I think this is a plus from an achievement standpoint as it saves the game for ridiculous multiplayer achievements. the gameplay feels very smooth, it is not as fluid and controlled as the gears of war franchise but it is not as clunky as mass effect 3. the sprint is a little odd as the camera zooms straight into the back of the head.
Narratively I found the game interesting, as of writing this I am on mission 6 and spoiler alert! Salem was supposedly killed in mission 1 and now has returned as el diablo to kill the T.W.O operatives including Rios. whilst this is a unique and clever idea, I kind of felt like this dumped on the camaraderie of the previous 2 games. It just didn't quite fit the game.
Overall a great game worth a buy, but lacks the coop enticement of Salem and Rios.
on 18 July 2013
If your looking for a decent game to play with a friend then look no further. The Army Of Two series has always been about delivering a fun co-op experience, and while this installment may feel a little hollow in terms of content compared to the previous games, it is still a fun game for you and a friend to pass time with. Like in previous games you can once again pick from a wide variety of guns and every single gun is completely customiseable, but not only that, as a new feature to Army Of Two, you can now fully customise your masks to really give your character a better sense of individuality and personality. Or you can pick from a number of pre-set masks which include a few masks based off other EA games, including Isacc Clark and John Carver from Dead Space 3.
on 16 April 2013
I have been co-op playing the A02 series from its first outing that was an unexpected hit. I got my copy due to a fluke - the woolworths shop I tried as a last resort for two copies had forgotten to stock their shelves despite having a "sold out" box up. It was a fun 2 player co-op shooter with some neat ideas and niggly flaws in gameplay. At the time it polarized reviewers, some liking the neat ideas and fun gunplay mixed with tongue in cheek U-S-A bravado from the two meatheads you played as mixed with gallic disdain for the gaudy solid gold guns. An satire of thee excesses of thee day from a french development studio. It appears no one got the joke and A02 came back with a post apocalyptic game set in china, with a dualistic morality system, ways to express joy and anger with your co-op partner and an utterly abysmal ending as well as stupid gimmiky invinci-bosses. Still the heal mechanic was broke as was the aggro system - but it had just enough fun moments to make it worthwhile. It was even glitchier, with my co-op partner banking 2 huge cheivers at the end that were denied to me! Aargh.
Anyhow due to lukewarm reviews, terrible storytelling and middling sales it looked like Salem and Rios were being put to bed. Luckily the franchise has a new, improved outing in TDC. I wasn't expecting much due to the poor reviews and low metacritic score, but I have been genuinely suprised with how much sheer fun this game is. They have stripped back the plot, made it easy to follow and greatly tightened up the core gameplay. Your guns are strong enough for the job, you don't feel too solid or too light in movement, taking cover actually works and you don't get completely screwed if one guy goes behind you. Even the healing system has been streamlined and improved from the dark days of holding the button for an AGE whilst bullet sponging, dragging them for 1 metre before beginning the lengthy gauze application and taking all the aggro (read: every NPC for 3 miles raining down on you).
It plays smoothly and remains one of the best fun blasters of the year. You can tear chunks out of the scenery, blast away destructible cover against hordes of average IQ enemies. On hard, it remains somewhat of a challenge - some arrests to solid progress. The graphics are sharp, the dialogue mostly brainless but fun and the plot nonsensical and potentially annoying to long term fans. Your characters are mostly anonymized, one caucasian and one mexican to avoid obvious charges of racism! By and large the plot doesn't detract from the action.
Its clear the team have focused on encouraging co-op, rewarding moves such as flanking enemies that are shooting your partner and teaming up to take down a target. Some co-oppers only allowed you to notice your pal if he or she was underperforming or requiring your help, making it akin to asymmetric play. Gimmick sections make split you up just enough and general gameplay requires your cooperation, making you keenly aware of your pal and coordinating. As I alluded to, any gimmick sections - away from the core gameplay, such as helicopter rides or vehicle sections - were fun and enjoyable rather than the usual unwelcome break. You can customize your dude if you'd like too, selecting a loadout - I suggest keeping with an assault rife, shotgun and pistol - but select the best ones for your play style and mod it up. Liked being able to make nods to the other 2 player co-oppera we had just finished (dead space 3) - sad that what is essentially a solid fun (if brainless and in many ways standardly plotted) co-op game will be overlooked. This was a game that they really did want to turn into a co-op that worked, and worked properly rather than the usual marketing afterthought to sell more copies of the game.
The usual leaderboards etc which add nothing and co-opetition of crowning a "winner" for each section still remains, but it doesn't detract and the booty is always shared.
I salute EA for a robust and FUN game that serves the same desire set that the original die hard films did. Well worth a play, of decent length, decent challenge and spectacular when it needs to be. Not perfect, but a fine game. Its not too likely we will see the masked macho men take down waves of enemies for a while again I would say. Do yourself a favour and play it how its meant to be played- with someone you know rather than the AI dude, unless you're aiming for a mammoth score on the leaderboards. No competitive multiplayer or any real life extender after you're done.
on 6 March 2014
Just as good as the previous games. Still lovin the customisation of weapons and the ability to select what you what for each mission. Still have to complete on Hard as too easy on normal.
on 4 May 2013
really boring, watered down, unchallenging game. The only enjoyment came from playing it with my friend but we would have had a lot more fun on any other game. I recommend the other two army of two games but not this one, it completely fails to deliver any serious action and has an appalling narrative that butchers the 'series'. Also the game is one massive advertisement of skull-candy and Inked which further makes the game awful in having really poor ascetic value as its plastered with brands.