"Not So Devilish"
At the end of the last generation of systems, Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel would have been released at $20-$30 and would have had everything included on the disk, without the need have pre-order anything. However, Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel was released this generation, and as such, it's priced at $60, it doesn't come with a manual, and the menus mention features that don't state they require the pre-order of DLC from a specific retailer. For a title with such features, there are a number of problems that one would have been able to overlook if the last-gen approach had been taken instead.
Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is the third title in the co-op focused series, but it takes the normally light-hearted, frat bro' feel (players could high-five each other after kills in previous games) for a slightly darker tone. Players control two new recruits, Alpha and Bravo, who work for the Private Military Company owned by the characters that starred in the other games: Salem and Rios. Set in Mexico, the characters are hired to rescue a politician who has been kidnapped by a cartel. Eventually, the work becomes personal, as the cartel goes directly after the PMC's employees.
Gameplay in Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is pretty standard third-person shooter fare, and although the game would like you to believe that teamwork is needed to survive battles, most of the time missions feel as if they can be completed solo. Killing enough enemies allows a player to activate overkill, which gives for a limited time infinite ammo and invincibility. Features such as the aggro meter, which let players know at whom enemy aggression was directed, are gone; teamwork is used in level primarily to distract someone at a stationed machine gun, double overtime, or to heal a downed teammate.
Between levels, players earn money from kills to rank up and purchase stronger weapons and items to customize the character such as weapon skins, armor sets, masks, and tattoos. The weapons leave a lot to be desired, and there are few differences to be seen even when having fully upgraded them. The leveling up system in Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel also feels like an artificial way of providing replay value, seeing as how once the campaign has been finished once, there's nothing to really see when going through again. As mentioned earlier, the menus talks about another mode called contracts, but when looking online, I see that the mode was only available to those who pre-ordered the game.
With the campaign being the only thing to do in the game, it really drags on until it plateaus towards the end of the game, where the gameplay situations change often as the story concludes. Until this point, the chapters drag on as the story keeps putting objectives slightly out of reach to artificially stretch out levels. There is one point where an NPC is on the other side of a gate you're facing, but for some reason, Alpha and Bravo decide to take the long way around instead of breaching the handle like they do at every checkpoint.
Using EA's Frostbite Engine, as seen in Battlefield 3, Devil's Cartel looks on par with other titles, after installing an HD texture pack (at least on Xbox 360). The game features environmental destruction, but not on the scale of something that would be seen in the Red Faction series, so the reason behind the 1.5 GB install to prevent the game from looking like a PS2-era title is a mystery to me.
Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel plays like something that would be released at the end of a generation: playable but generally lacking polish, including a very annoying bug that tells your A.I. partner died in the final cinematic and forces you to start the last battle from the beginning. It's not the worst thing that has come out this year, but there are a lot of games that are cheaper, or you could just save your money and wait on.
GameDynamo's Score for Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel (X360)
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