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Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel (Xbox 360)
The latest adventure starring EA’s two-man army offers a significantly different gaming experience
- Runs at a steady frame rate despite all the on-screen activity
- Gunplay is satisfying as in past games
- Small bugs and gameplay quirks that interrupt flow
- A bit dull overall
The Devil’s Cartel does not top the original Army of Two, but it is a step in the right direction after The 40th Day.
Price$ 98.00 (AUD)
Former EA CEO, John Riccitiello, can be accused of doing many things during his tenure, but one of them can not be lack of new IP for this generation. In addition to Dead Space and Mirror’s Edge, another compelling new property EA released in 2008 was Army of Two.
By melding the cover-based-shooter gameplay from Epic’s Gears of War with an AI (or real life) squad member in a gritty, real-world setting, EA had a sleeper hit on its hands that managed to make its mark on the third person genre. 2009’s Army of Two sequel, The 40th Day, was not quite as fun as the first time around, but EA let the franchise take a breather before it returned to it with this year’s sequel, The Devil’s Cartel.
Numerous changes have been made to the game over the past two instalments, creating a significantly different gaming experience. The main change is that the series’ protagonists, Elliot Salem and Tyson Rios, have been relegated into a supporting role. Instead, the reigns have been handed over to a pair of new operatives, simply known as Alpha and Bravo. Facilitating this change are significant plot developments that involve all four characters. Having played the prior two Army of Two games, it was kind of jarring to see how the developer treated Salem and Rios in the storyline compared to the past. Revealing more will only lead to spoilers, though I will say that I was not quite happy with the way the story in The Devil’s Cartel developed and ultimately concluded.
The game features the same run-and-gun-and-cover gameplay found the earlier two games. However, for whatever reason, the developer has decided to strip back the game to its absolute basics, even more so than the first game. Equipping weapons with ridiculous mods and customisations has been stripped back slightly, though since I was never a fan of “blinging” weapons and masks in the earlier games, it does not impact the enjoyment of The Devil’s Cartel. What does impact gameplay is several of the team-based abilities, such as standing back-to-back and moving down enemies in slow motion, have been removed. Instead, the game has an Overkill ability which lets the player shoot unlimited ammo for a brief period. Team interaction is mainly limited to boosting the other player over walls or obstacles.
The game looks decent and runs smoothly at a great framerate, one that does not slow down even though several explosive barrels are going off in the background due to careless gunfire. However, the graphics are not quite as impressive as EA’s own Dead Space 3. There are minor bugs during gameplay that interrupt flow, such as doors that have trouble opening due to player placement, as well as the occasional invisible barrier that fails to disappear, due to a remaining enemy lurking somewhere in the environment. All of these misgivings are minor compared to the fact that the overall story about busting up a drug cartel in Mexico is kind of unmemorable, though it gets better when played with a human player in co-op either online or via split screen.
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