Sometime’s when I make a sandwich I like to mix things up, I might put some potato chips on there, put it together with some turkey and mayo. Combinations are really fun! You take parts of other things and put them together into something that could be really cool, but there is always the rare really bad combination of things that should have never come together because they were all bad in the first place. That is the best thing that I can describe Army of Two with.
In the last console generation one of the things that has become blatantly obvious is that gritty, hardcore, modern war based shooters is where the market is at. Or that is what many publishers have become accustomed to thinking, it almost seems like everyone is trying to sell as many copies as the latest Call of Duty has by making a game that has all of the same elements in it, only a little more of a unique touch. Army of Two: The Devils Cartel takes a shot at the modern war game with loads of ignorant dialogue, a story that you won’t care about and AI design that is just broken. There is not much that I can say about this game that is going to give it good credit because I can honestly say it is a painful ride to the end with seating for two.
The Devil’s Cartel kicks off with two operatives for Trans World Operations (yup, T.W.O.) landing down in the streets of Mexico with their mission to protect a politician who is looking to take down the cartel La Guadana and their leader Estaban Bautista. There is a little more to the story than that, such as the two main characters of 40th Day being a part of the main storyline but the plotline is so predictable and thin that if I gave anymore away it would be basically considered spoilers. That being said The Devil’s Cartel tries doing things that are incredibly out of it’s league, attempting to make the player feel deceived and even thinking that it could make someone feel like their mind is being blown by the big reveal is pretentious on an entirely different level. Characters in the game are written extremely poorly as well yelling “your mom” jokes after their comrades die by their side, and not just nameless soldiers, these are actual friends of their’s with names. One of the things that began to become a joke was the body count of your comrades throughout the game, as terrible as it sounds it happens so often that you can only laugh at how bad it is. Your fellow operatives not only die in combat but they die in stupid ways such as just running around a corner without checking or having a car blast through them without anyone noticing the car. What is even worse is that characters are so unmemorable that if they come back at a later time in the story you probably will have mistaken them for some other guy that died earlier. I was surprised that Alpha and Bravo, the two protagonists, were not sitting on a fishing boat by the end because it sounds almost more important than the mission they are on at times. Plus the fact that there are other operatives that treat killing gang members like it’s just a game, it just becomes very stupid.
The gameplay is the only thing that might get you through the game’s terrible plot but even then the gameplay is a drag too. Controls are just okay, guns start out as less accurate, not a lot of damage being dealt, and not a lot of range but as you progress you will gain money to buy more guns, upgrades for those guns and other cosmetic things and after 10 missions money becomes no object. I found that I could basically buy anything that my rank could unlock by the time I was 1/4 through the game including cosmetics and upgrades. You can take guns from enemies as well, any enemy that dies will drop a gun for you to take but you won’t get something outstanding from yours. But you won’t even need to do this because ammo is lying everywhere, not only do your enemies drop guns but they drop ammo as well!
Aiming barely exists in this game, the auto aim snap that the game gives you is incredibly sensitive to the point that enemies yards away from where you’re aiming will automatically be put in your reticle. This makes for an experience that is not challenging and it makes the endless waves of enemies even more stale than they should be over time. There is no change to what you are doing throughout the game, you arrive in a new corridor/room and take out everyone inside of it. If you don’t do this you are stuck inside an area that may even seem escapable. The enemy’s AI is very bad, you can bump right into them and they may not even notice you which can leave you in parts of a battle that the game never intended you being in, and also leaving you dead. Enemies also may spawn out of thin air at times, which can also lead to frustrating deaths as well. There are hallways that you can wander down only to be stopped halfway by an invisible wall telling you that you missed someone in the last battle and that you have to run back to find out where they are. This is especially annoying with escort missions where you can’t advance through a door without your third or fourth partner arriving at the door, typically they are stuck looking for someone that isn’t there or they are the only thing notifying you that there is any enemies left. This can be helpful sometimes as you may mistake the door as another normal bug that the game has, as sometimes you have to back away from the door to actually go through it, away as in 3-5 steps back, along with your partner and that may need to be done multiple times for it to work.
It being an Army of Two game you also may be wondering how the co-op is and how it holds up to other games in the series. Well to answer the first question, as I played the game split screen for the entire time, the parts of the game that is really “co-op” is typically one person going down a different hallway then the other, maybe even being able to help shoot each other’s enemies from the other path. There are choices in the game where the two players must choose whether they want one path or another, or whether one person wants to shoot from the helicopter or the ground. There is never much to the multiplayer than that, and in answer to the second question with a partial answer to the first, one of the things that seems to have taken second wheel is the aggro system that the other games emphasized so much on. There is a T.W.O. meter that can help you in some situation where you need to flank a heavy shielded machine gun from the side but it is almost useless at times and it is better to just jump from cover to cover on your own. The overkill mode from the first game has made a return and it’s probably one of the coolest things about the game, all of your bullets become explosive, you have unlimited ammo and you are invincible, this is gauged by a meter that goes up whenever you kill an enemy and it also can go into double slo-mo and double damage if your partner activates the mode at the same time. Co-op actions such as the first bump and rock-paper-scissors and the multiplayer from the second game have all been removed but there is also a new addition of leaderboards so you can see if you can beat your friends high scores for every mission.
The Devil’s Cartel is one my least favorable experiences I have ever played and I don’t suggest anyone to play it. If you are looking for a coop shooter you can go back and try the other entries in the series or even try out the latter half of the Resident Evil series. But the Devil’s Cartel was another mistake on EA’s slate and it’s almost no wonder that they released it in the same week as Bioshock Infinite and journalists didn’t get copies of the game until it was basically already out. The game is one of the most boring, irritating pieces of software that I have ever played. It’s sad to see that this series has dropped down so low and we probably won’t be seeing another entry in the series after this one but it would be best for fans to just think of 40th day as the last entry in the series.