Army of Two: Devil’s Cartel

AoTTC Cover
C+ Overall Score
Gameplay: 8/10
Replay Value: 6/10
Technical: 7/10

Game Info (Click to expand)

GAME NAME: Army of Two: Devil’s Cartel

DEVELOPER(S): Visceral Montreal, EA Montreal

PUBLISHER(S): Electronic Arts

PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360, Playstation 3

GENRE(S): Third-Person Shooter

RELEASE DATE(S): March 26th, 2013

  • Top notch Bro-Op Action
  • Frostbite 2 Engine makes everything explode
  • Customized masks AND outfits

  • The fist bump is gone. Seriously.
  • You no longer play as Rios and Salem (and the new characters have flat personalities)
  • No Replay, No Multiplayer (The 2v2v2 is gone)

Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel was released on March 26 and it brings gamers back to the world of T.W.O., the ultimate bro-fisting, co-op blasting, merciless shooter on the market. Well, it used to be the ultimate bro-fisting game, until the feature was removed in The Devil’s Cartel. While we mourn the loss of the ability to fist bump our bro, the war between T.W.O. and La Guadaña (cartel) rages on using the Frostbite 2 engine.

The first two installments followed the story of Salem and Rios, the ultimate bros-in-arms, but to the dismay of many, this continuation turns in a new direction. To make players feel like they are more involved in the game, Devil’s Cartel disappointingly uses the generic code names Alpha and Bravo. They don’t have the personality of Salem and Rios, their humor is dry, and there’s not much character development. I might miss the characters and quirky humor that made me fall in love with the Army of Two franchise, but this game is all about the company that you keep. Call up your bro and suit up.

MASKS

Army of Two: Devil's Cartel - Smiley Face Mask

Army of Two: Devil’s Cartel – Smiley Face Mask

Masks have always been one of the focal points of the game, the iconic terror-inducing painted facial guards have been at the forefront of the marketing campaigns from the start, and the past customization options let everyone customize Rios and Salem however they desired. Now that the story has deviated from the infamous duo, the emphasis has shifted towards customizing Alpha and Bravo to match your style. Whether that’s a flaming mask, the bright yellow smiley face, or the hip skullcandy masks, there are options for everyone. On top of that, you’re also able to customize your own mask by using layers to create your own custom designs, regardless of how inappropriate they may be.

I spent an hour making a genuine replica of an old-school hockey mask. It was worth it.

OUTFITS

Army of Two: Devil's Cartel Outfits

Army of Two: Devil’s Cartel Outfits

Barney Stinson always calls his bro and tells him to suit up, and it’s no different with Devil’s Cartel. Unlocking the various outfits are the path to an achievement (on the Xbox 360 version) and the road to looking good. Whether you want to look like the rough raider, the armored S.W.A.T. trooper, or glow like lava on a hot summer day, the options are there for you.

GAMEPLAY

Army of Two: Devil's Cartel Gameplay

Army of Two: Devil’s Cartel Gameplay

This third-person shooter throws you into the fray as it always has, with new weapons and extensive customization options to cater to your personal style. Whether you prefer charging in with a shotgun, firing from range with a sniper rifle, or finding a solid balance of the two with an assault rifle; there’s no “design” that forces you into one or the other. The mechanics themselves haven’t changed, and it plays just as you would expect any third-person shooter to play, rushing from cover to cover, firing away at hordes of enemies, and racking up the cash for upgrades. Although the threat/aggro meter from previous titles is still there to an extent, its streamlined into the gameplay mechanics. No longer do you have a bright red meter that lets you know whether or not everyone within a 10 mile radius is going to shoot you on sight, so flanking mounted machine guns requires a bit more tact than before. That being said, the overall gameplay hasn’t changed much – not that it needed to.

Making another return is overkill mode, while the original Army of Two featured back-to-back combat, slow motion charges, and over the shoulder firing, Devil’s Cartel opted to switch into the fast-paced frantic shooter methodology: unlimited health, unlimited ammo and no reloads. Go wild.

While the experience is satisfying, it leaves a void at the core of what this franchise used to be, the ultimate co-op bromance. Several of the missions don’t even involve co-op action, they have the two players split in different directions, leaving you feeling alone and unprotected.

GRAPHICS

Army of Two: Devil's Cartel Vista

Army of Two: Devil’s Cartel Vista

Switching to the Frostbite 2 engine was the best change to come to Devil’s Cartel, giving players the opportunity to blast their way through barriers, wall and more as the environment around them falls apart to the sprays of countless bullets. This modern shift was a great move, particularly when you use impromptu explosive devices to take out groups of enemies. (Although, it still makes me question why swarms of enemies continue to huddle near flaming vehicles on the brink of explosion.) At least the explosions look great.

During gameplay, we did come across one significant bug, where once in awhile the character bodies would not load, leaving us as walking heads with guns floating in the air. It was like a Rayman nightmare gone wrong. It fixed itself whenever we would reload the checkpoint, so it was a minor thing.

OVERALL

Army of Two: Devil's Cartel Fist Bump

Army of Two: Devil’s Cartel Fist Bump

Everything about Devil’s Cartel feels like Army of Two, except for the glaring discrepancy that the two new protagonists have the personality of two turnips – it made us realize how much we miss Salem and Rios. That being said, every franchise has to evolve at one point or another, and the direction was geared towards personalizing the experience. Unfortunately in doing so, it leaves a flat taste in your mouth.

While the mask customization is a blast, the restrictive layer limit makes complex mask designs impossible to do. I spent a solid two hours just designing masks and having one hell of a good time doing it, particularly when attempting to replicate a classic hockey goalie mask with a modern twist, since the default hockey mask isn’t my style. It’s all about being unique, but unfortunately with the removal of multiplayer features, the only person that will experience your glorious work of art, is your bro.

With multiplayer options entirely removed, the gameplay consists entirely of a single-player campaign that follows Alpha and Bravo across a gap of several years as they rage a war against the Guadaña Cartel in Mexico. While this destroys the replay value, the campaign is fun while it lasts.

I can sum up this game in just a few words: Game with a bro, or don’t game at all.

If you’ve been following the franchise, and you have a bro you’ve been gunning it with, you’ll love this title. If you’re expecting the next big “shooter” a-la Call of Duty, then you’ve opened the wrong door at the carnival.

Devil’s Cartel falls short to enamor even hardcore fans (us) of the franchise, but it’s still a damn good time.

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Griffyth
Author: Griffyth View all posts by
Griffyth is the online alias for Alberto Ibarra, editor and doctoral student in Clinical Psychology whose research aims to tie together cultural challenges in the video game / gaming community. You can learn more about him at www.griffyth.com or follow him on twitter at @griffyth_psy.