Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel - Review

Army of Two The Devil's Cartel review for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 at GAME

Flanks For Everything

Some jobs are just better with a friend. Assembling flat pack furniture. Doing the washing up. Taking down a ruthless Mexican drug cartel. Tackling any of those, it helps to have a dependable buddy by your side. Thankfully, Visceral Games - of Dead Space fame - has opted for the "drug cartel" angle for this third Army of Two game, so we're spared the sight of beefy mercenaries up to their elbows in suds or cursing at Swedish instruction booklets.

The Gang's All Here

Rios and Salem, the heroes of the previous two games, are still around but in this story you - and a pal - will be controlling the rather blandly named Alpha and Bravo. These two are new recruits to the T.W.O, the private military contractor summoned in to clean up big violent messes around the world. Rios and Salem are your mentors to begin with, but the plot - yes, there's a plot - twists things in some interesting ways as you fight back against a drug baron who seems to have half of Mexico on his payroll.

The action quickly slips into a familiarly brutal groove. You take cover behind one of the many conveniently placed rocks, cars, walls and fences and begin popping out to take down the gnarly punks shooting at you. So far, so predictable, but Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel has a trick up its sweaty sleeve and it's called Frostbite 2.

Army of Two The Devil's Cartel review for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 at GAME

Get Ready To Crumble

The same game engine that powers the insane destruction of Battlefield 3 is deployed here, and it makes a hell of a difference. In a game world where everything can be destroyed, you'll want to choose your cover spots carefully. Wooden crates will quickly splinter under fire, and even concrete slabs can be chipped away slowly or turned into useless chunks by explosions. You'll need to keep moving, finding not only the best vantage point to take out a bunkered enemy, but the safest.

It's not particularly hard to take them out, as they're not the sharpest machetes in the drawer. Most will gladly take cover next to tempting red barrels or gas canisters, just waiting for a well placed bullet to detonate them. This often sets off any other explosives nearby, and one of the game's biggest pleasures is watching a chain of explosions detonate around your enemies, racking up the score.

Even more fun than that is Overkill mode, activated once you've filled a gauge through successful kills. Overkill makes you invincible, gives you infinite ammo and slows everything down. Activate it solo and it's cool. Activate it as a team and the effect is amazing - real action movie stuff - as you churn the scenery into tiny pieces together, mowing down the hordes of villains like all of The Expendables put together. It's an effect you'll use many times over the game's seven-hour campaign, but it never gets tired and you'll look forward to it every time.

Army of Two The Devil's Cartel review for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 at GAME

Dress To Impress

Your score is cash-based - you are a mercenary after all - and depends not only on how many bad guys you kill, but how smartly you kill them. Simply shoot a guy as he's running towards you and you'll get pocket money. Work with your partner, outflank him, take him down as a team and you'll earn triple figures rather than double. This cash then gets deposited in your account at the end of each short, punchy stage and can be used to unlock new weapons, attachments and cosmetic features like new masks, tattoos and outfits. It's not a particularly deep customisation system, but there's definitely pleasure in seeing your own personal killing machine take shape.

That's especially true if you're playing with a friend, as the game really comes to life in co-operative play. When sweeping and clearing the enemies together, you can revive each other when downed and watch each other's back. However, there are sections where you're forced to split up, with one player covering the other from on high, or taking different routes to the same objective. It's here the game shows its teeth, as you'll need to stay on your toes to avoid being left bleeding out in the dust, far from your partner's help.

Parker Life

If The Devil's Cartel has a weakness, it's that there's not much more to it than a beefy shooter. The only online play is the same co-op mode you'll probably use for your campaign playthrough, with only a couple of bonus missions to unlock to keep the entertainment going. Gone too are a lot of the co-op moves that defined the series - the idea of drawing "aggro" from enemies to let your partner advance is still here, but very much in the background, and you're no longer able to go back-to-back or fake surrender to catch enemies off guard. You get what you're given: a muscular, satisfying meat and potatoes shooter that satisfies your trigger finger but won't always leave you hungry for more. If you're after an unpretentious blaster for Saturday night mayhem, The Devil's Cartel gets the job done.

GAME's Verdict:

The Good:

  • Overkill mode is your own private Michael Bay movie
  • Co-op action is still the best way to play
  • Cool customisation options and mask editor

The Bad:

  • Nothing to do outside of the main campaign
  • Enemy AI won't pose much trouble
  • Joining a game in progress is a pain
SKU: Reviews-214807
Release Date: 03/04/2013