A New Drug with an Old Name
When in a strange environment, partnering on your travels with a responsible, trustworthy friend can help deter danger and diffuse sticky situations. Big fans of the buddy system, Electronic Arts and Visceral Games are working on the third installment of the Army of Two series. Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel won't just bring back co-op action, it's taking the franchise in a new direction.
The first two Army of Two titles didn't exactly push the shooting genre forward, but they weren't flops either. With over-the-top action and bravado, the games fit in with frat-boy braggarts and B-flick movie enthusiasts. If you can picture Deadpool in a co-op shooter, you wouldn't be far off the mark. However, EA is pulling back on cheesy one-liners and air guitar sessions, setting its sights on a more mature tone. This is for two reasons: Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel will draw upon the real struggles Mexico has with drug cartels, and because the first two titles didn't catch on as household names. While we'll miss slugging and high-fiving teammates, the other changes coming with The Devil's Cartel could more than make amends.
One of the best parts of Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is that it isn't overhauling gameplay. Keeping co-op tactics at the heart of gameplay, developer Visceral Games found that some trademark mechanics translate well into this re-imagining of the franchise. For example, The Devil's Cartel will include Overkill (a mechanic that grants extra bullet damage), but with a new twist. Instead of earning Overkill status by maxing out Aggro (a mechanic that measures how much attention a player attracts from enemies), players will earn Overkill points by performing well as a tandem. Flanking maneuvers and coordinated attacks are just two tactics that rake in Overkill points, which players can unleash when things get hairy. The characters of Ao2: The Devil's Cartel might not play air guitar guitars, but players might have air strumming sessions on the couch thanks to Overkill. Overkill, from what we've seen, is a major payoff for players. Pillars, walls, and other means of cover are reduced to smoking piles of rubble in the wake of a maelstrom of bullets. Enemies are cut in half, literally, by bullet spray.
Pouring through hundreds of bullet magazines and creating mayhem are staples of Army of Two. Adding some much appreciated physics and ballistics to the equation, Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is being built with the Frostbite 2 engine (the engine used for Battlefield 3). For those of you who don't know what this means, picture an old building being blown up by TNT. Now picture doing that holding a large automatic gun. The Frostbite 2 engine can only make The Devil's Cartel better by adding better particle effects, destructible environments, greater shadow effects, and much more. Of course, that means players will need to constantly be aware of degrading cover quality, but, to our delight, that works both ways for players and enemies.
Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel will build off the canon from prior games. Tyson Rios and Elliot Salem won't be the main triggermen in The Devil's Cartel, but they will be main components in the storyline. Two new characters, Alpha and Bravo, will carry the franchise forward.
Unlocking weapon customization and new masks were major draws in past games. Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel will not only keep these customizations, EA is adding new goodies to character customization and weapon loadouts. Details are scarce at this point, but we know that players will be able to upgrade guns and swap out more gear than just masks. Hopefully, EA doesn't cut pimped-out weapons from the game. Sure, they're cheesy, but, it made weapon upgrades an enjoyable, gratifying effort.
Some video game retailers list the release date of Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel for March 18, 2013, but no official word has come from EA or developer Visceral Games Montreal as of yet. Everything is better with friends, even walking through Mexico's drug-poisoned streets. Though campy, when Army of Two first came out in 2008 it was a fresh idea that focused on solid co-op gameplay. EA is committed to turning this franchise into more than a cheap thrill. With a new direction, new protagonists, updated gameplay and the help of Frostbite 2 engine, we're interested to see if The Devil's Cartel can take this franchise to the next level.
John loves gaming and loves writing about games. He wants to become a known voice in the gaming community and a game designer one day.
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