Huh, turns out Theoden wasn’t the first Saruman had used with that spell…...
Army Of Two has been a franchise about high-octane action, a dam-bursting amount of foul language and the dudebro bromance that ensues when two guys put their lives in each others hands. The third entry seems to have taken a step away from the bromance, replacing fist-pumps and longing looks into each others eyes as they imagine hitting the showers together, which essentially made the original characters so close. However, now you’re dealing with two new recruits at the T.W.O agency. While this question probably doesn’t need to be asked, can this third entry live up to what has come before, or has this once great co-op experience gone astray?
Army Of Two: The Devil’s Cartel takes a new approach for the franchise placing you in the boots of Alpha and Bravo instead of Salem and Rios. It’s clear that this is so you can from a more personal relationship with the characters – embodying yourself into their grizzled husks. This is further enforced by character customization options such as tactical gear and tattoos as well as the new mask customization tool. It may be pretty nice to have, but it is wholly unnecessary.
Opening with the new recruits on a mission that goes sour rather quickly, then reverting back to their training as T.W.O. operatives fighting alongside Salem & Rios, trouble befalls the group and the gang goes back into action sometime later in the ‘present day’. As you can tell, it’s not the most engrossing of plots. Having played previous entries in the series, I always felt the experience revolved around the bromance of Salem & Rios, their companionship and utter cheesy one liners they threw at each other. By giving you Alpha and Bravo to play as, The Devils Cartel loses the character-driven charm from the first two titles, especially after having to make decisions in the second game.
Each of the ten missions are split into multiple chapters, but some are longer than others – so don’t use that as a judge of length. At the end of each chapter you can visit the armory to customize your gun, character, or add more tattoos if the need compels you to. You also gain money every chapter, which is determined by time taken to complete a section, as well as destruction and difficulty. You also level up your overall operative ranking which carries over to online if you are connected to the EA servers at the time – it also allows you to use all unlocked gear online with friends in co-op.
Contracts, which are missions with special parameters, unlock as you progress through the game. These vary from having unlimited ‘Overkill’ – a semi-beserk mode rewarded from killing enemies in absurd ways – to more mundane tasks. They certainly are fun little missions, but they have no other goal than to earn some money to rank up and purchase unlockables, as well as add more replay value.
Fans of the series will enjoy the ability to go in with friends via co-op using customized characters to fight side-by-side. However it’s a shame that the co-op funi is broken by the lack of interaction with your partner beyond boosting them up or breaching doors. There’s just no personality to the characters at all.
Sure the action is still present and some people will undoubtedly enjoy blowing everything up in an over-the-top Michael Bay fashion. However, from a gameplay standpoint, enemies are run-of-the-mill with repetition being commonplace as you take down either snipers, grunts or heavies. Sure a few grunts will carry a rocket launcher now and again, but they all die with a few bullets.
Army Of Two: The Devil’s Cartel is a game. Fans will either love it or hate it, but it’s hard to see the appeal with its poor story and lack of the ability to play as Salem or Rios. Sure it is a great run-and-gun shooter, but barring that it has nothing that takes moves the series forward or makes me beg for another entry in the franchise.
Audio/Visual – 3/5: Nothing spectacular, but explosions and destruction elements are nice.
Gameplay – 2/5: Run and gunning at its best, but fans might be disappointed in the story.
Innovation – 3/5: The unique bro-fist love is taken out but mask customization is in.
Value – 3/5: Great if you have friends to play with, disappointing if you don’t.
-Anthony D. Reviewed Army Of Two: The Devil’s Cartel on PlayStation 3-