Why does this game exist again?
I'm sure your time is precious to you, so let me save you a few minutes of your life that would otherwise be spent reading this review by telling you right off the bat that Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is not worth your time. Do not buy this game or even bother renting it. I can't imagine anyone with decent taste finding very much redeeming about EA and Visceral Montreal's latest "effort." Period.
Since I know some of you will still bother to read the rest of this review, I guess I must go on. The Devil's Cartel is the third entry in the Army of Two franchise and it's easily the worst of the bunch. In a post Gears of War industry, gamers have come to expect a certain level of quality from third-person shooters, and somehow this franchise has failed to deliver time and time again. It's a redundant mess that simply isn't particularly enjoyable to play.
I'm not going to even bother detailing the story and characters, as doing so would only bore you to death. To put it briefly, the game centers around soldiers Alpha and Bravo who are tasked with protecting Juan Angelo Cordova, the mayor of La Puerta, who's been targeted by a drug cartel. The narrative itself is parceled out in a bunch of cutscenes that are poorly written and voice acted. The bro-filled ridiculousness of this game begs to not be taken seriously, but it's presented in such a way that leads me to believe the developers never got the memo.
If that weren't enough, poor production values only mar the experience further, making it clear that this game was nothing more than a quick cash-in for EA. Right off the bat, I noticed bits of the HUD looked like they were stripped right out of Battlefield and Dead Space, and the long load times are completely unacceptable. Even within a level, I'd run up to a door waiting to breach it, only to be asked to "Please Wait" by a prompt on the screen. I could understand if this happened once or twice, but I found myself waiting around far too often. I'm normally a patient guy, but after having to wait through long load screens time and time again, my tolerance for the additional intermittent pauses waned rather quickly.
And the game isn't even particularly pretty, which only baffles me all the more. It looks all right, but nothing to write home about, and certainly not worth waiting through long load screens for. The missions feature rather linear and generic levels, with little variety to keep things from growing stale. The color palate is overwhelmingly brown, which is a fad I had hoped we finally moved on from. I guess not.
The combat itself is functional, but that's as much praise as you'll get out of it from me. There are certainly other games like Gears of War that do third-person combat so much better. The Devil's Cartel just doesn't feel as tight and fluid as some of its competitors, and the clunky cover system doesn't help things by any means. Even worse is the enemy AI, which is downright terrible. Often times I found my adversaries running around like chickens with their heads cut off, completely oblivious to where I was or where I was going.
However, I did have a slight bit of fun when I did rack up enough kills to turn on "Overkill Mode," which slows down time and makes the player character invincible. Rampaging through the streets spraying bullets ridiculously at a bunch of stupid AI enemies briefly helps to forget how lackluster the experience otherwise was. Fans of the franchise (yes, all six of you) will be pleased to know that you can upgrade your weapons, customize your character's mask, tattoos, and the like. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it's there if you're into that sort of thing.
The main draw of Army of Two has always been its co-op, but I can't say The Devil's Cartel does much to distinguish itself from other third-person shooters in this regard. You can opt to play alongside a computer companion or dive in with a friend. If you're desperate for something to play with a buddy, the option's there, though there are plenty of other more worthy gaming alternatives. The AI sidekick was competent enough, except for one particular time in which he managed to get stuck in the environment when I was looking for him to give me a boost over one of the game's many conveniently placed high walls. Fortunately, reloading the checkpoint didn't take me back too far.
There are also plenty of invisible walls that will block your way, which is not only frustrating, but takes you out of the experience. You'll also be greeted with prompts that only further solidify the redundancy and lack of polish this game has. Clear an area of enemies, then breach a door. Clear another area of enemies, then breach another door. Clear yet another area of enemies, then breach yet another door. Get the picture?
Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is an underwhelming third-person shooter that is a clearly a half-hearted cash-grab by Electronic Arts. If you're looking for a game in this genre, I suggest you turn to Gears of War or any number other titles of this ilk. Seriously, this game isn't worth your time. It isn't broken, it just isn't good either.
Game provided by publisher. Review based on Xbox 360 version.