Community Soapbox: Army of Two – The Devil’s Cartel Reviewed

Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel

By on June 24, 2013 at 7:19 pm

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OH YEAH. STRAP YOURSELVES BROS, BECAUSE IT’S ABOUT TO GET BROTACULAR

FIRST, GRAB YOUR BRO. NOT IN A GAY WAY. THAT’S UNBRO. YOU GOT A HOLD ON HIM, IN A PURELY HETEROSEXUAL FASHION? BROLICIOUS, YOU’RE MAKING ME SWEAT WITH THIS COMPLETELY PLATONIC DISPLAY OF AFFECTION. NOW SEIZE YOUR BRO-CANNON. THAT’S THE BIGGEST, BROSPLOSION GUN YOU CAN FIND. GOT IT? AWWWWWWW YEAH SON, ITS TIME TO GET DOWN. BULLETTTSSSSSSSSSSS

There. That, ladies and gentlemen, is Army of Two – The Devil’s Cartel in a vaguely overcompensating homo-erotic nutshell. Review done.

Oh, you want more? Well, just remember. You asked for this.

Army of Two – The Devils Cartel is the third in the mainly forgettable but quite enjoyable series of Army of Two games, where you inhabit the shoes and manly musculature of one of a new pair of characters. For those of you new to the series, the previous games were about two guys called Rios (a big guy with what appears to be some morals) and Salem (a man whose dickishness knows no bounds) who worked for a mercenary company called something like Definitely-Not-Blackwater-Inc who rose up and killed their employers after they were found to be assholes and formed their own mercenary company. Because that couldn’t possibly go wrong.

Except it did go wrong, when they were fighting in China (for reasons that were never adequately explained) and one of the crew, Salem, started to unravel soon afterwards, and we instead find ourselves playing through the events of The Devil’s Cartel, set in Mexico, where everyone is apparently a drug dealer, and it’s not generalist or racist to say so.

So, instead of exploring the dynamic of these two thugs – ahem, I mean heroes – afterwards, we are given two replacements for the third game. The continuing story of Salem and Rios is told through the eyes of these two new characters instead, for anyone who might care.

Trouble is, caring is kind of difficult.

The two new characters are called – wait for it – Alpha and Bravo. Ostensibly, this is because it apparently makes it easier for people playing the game to transplant their own character onto the characters they are playing as – by using a vapid, empty character without a shred of soul or personality, the observer transplants themselves unto it easier. Kind of like someone reading Twilight. This is a reasonable explanation – but equally reasonable to say is that it is actually a result of poorly handled writing and paper thin plot work. But then again, this is an Army of Two game. Plot is not required when one can bling their assault rifle to look like it is plated in solid gold.

But yes, the story, before we get to mechanics. The Army of Two are in Mexico with their fellow mercs, protecting a mayor who is trying to fight back against the cartels running the region, led by a guy I last saw in The Shield as a police captain. There are betrayals, hugely obvious plot twists, and plenty of casual brutality to remind you that these characters are mercenaries, and not to be messed with.

Except these guys aren’t normal mercenaries, because they care about HONOR and RESPECT and BROS. Which makes them rather different from normal civilian contractor PMC’s who instead are paid to be brutes, thugs and bully boys in various theatres of war working outside of normal military doctrine, who fight because they are paid rather than because they believe in a cause. So, while its cool and all that these guys are helping a poor city mayor try and fight the good fight, I believe it about as much as I believe that the two main characters are NOT trying to secretly hide their impossible love for one another, and instead try to assure us of their manliness every few minutes with overcompensation and weak humour. Methinks the pair of them doth protest too much.

But anyway, I’m drifting afield here. I should have warned you this might happen.

Alpha and Bravo are a pair of guys from different backgrounds. One, Bravo, was a thug for a biker gang, or the mob. The other, Alpha, is ex-military. Both of them are aggressive, brutal, and violent, and for the most part, unaffected by the carnage they inflict on the nigh identical hordes of desperados that throw themselves at them, again and again. They are manly men, after all. Honestly, there is no part of this games storyline that could evoke the tiniest bit of surprise, admiration or respect. It’s a game about thugs fighting thugs, and all about who can be the thuggin’est thug overall. Maybe it tries to paint a different picture of the sorts of people involved in these sort of scenarios by the end of it, but I’m not buying it.

But I knew I was getting into this when my flatmate brought it home with an evil grin plastered all over his mug. I knew this game was going to be ridiculous, have all the plot of a paper bag full of doggy doo left on a doorstep, and be only marginally more humorous.

However, when you throw out all the idiotic chest beating nonsense, the utterly unbelievable possibility of a ‘nice’ PMC, and the blank characters, it ‘does’ have one thing in its favour.

It’s actually kinda fun.

My flatmate and I have been friends for years, and we tend to enjoy co-op shooters when they come out. We’ve played heaps of them. This one was the continuation of a previous tradition. I kinda enjoyed the first Army of Two. Not the second one, which was woeful. But this one does do one thing quite well – you shoot a truckload of people and you have fun doing it. This is not a game which skimps on the destruction either. Each character gets an overkill meter thingy – score enough points through kills, chaining kills together, or simple tactics (such as flanking, distracting, or baiting) and you can unleash your overkill – which goes to the utterly RIDICULOUS measure of giving you invincibility, super powering your weapons, giving you infinite ammunition and grenades, and slow-motion.

Sounds over the top? Yes, it is. But holy BALLS is it fun to flat out level every goddamn structure in sight with a glorious roar of sheer glee, holding down the trigger button so hard you get a cramp. You also get the majority of points earned from doing so. It makes the game slightly too easy at times – but it makes up for it by the sheer Hollywood levels of destruction you unleash. I may or may not have cackled madly. I might even have fist bumped my partner in devastation. I was caught up in the moment.

Why do you want points by the way? Because points mean cash, and after each burst of combat you can go to the game store to buy new gear. You also level up, which unlocks different outfits and weapons as well, which you can then purchase.

Where The Devil’s Cartel excels is in its guns. They are many, varied, and each one of them is heavily, heavily customisable. You can change ammunition type, magazine size and shape, stocks and barrels, underbarrel mounts etc, etc. It’s actually quite fun, as a lot of the weapons, when upgraded, have very different playing styles and feels, and changing them can change those characteristics considerably.

But best of all, you can change how they look, colour wise.

You do not know joy until you have run around mowing down bad guys with a solid-gold M60 light machine gun, spitting heavy calibre death at a ridiculous rate into the faces of all and sundry. You might think you do, but you don’t.

In the end, we won the day, there was a bittersweet ending, and people died all over the place. But fun was had. And I had to ask myself and my playing buddy why. End result of said discussion? This game is nothing special. It’s not unique, it’s not different, it’s not breaking the mould in any way. But it ‘is’ fun, if only because you are playing it with someone. If you see it in the bargain bin, it’s worth picking up, if you’ve got someone to share it with. Otherwise? As a single player experience, I’d wager it’d be shallow, empty and pointless.

Shared, it’s a guilty pleasure — like a kebab at 4.00am while drunk in a gutter, trying to explain the meaning of the universe to a similarly disadvantaged and kebab’d friend – baffling, swiftly forgotten and vaguely enjoyable, with a lingering aroma of garlic.

Oh, and one other thing. This was the first R18+ game I’ve played in Australia since the ratings system changed. Whether or not it deserved it is irrelevant – but admittedly, if the level of violence and other adult themes depicted warranted such a rating, I believe we can expect many more releases to get a similar rating – it was no worse than many MA15+ games on the market pre-R18+ rating era. Whether or not that’s a bad thing, well, that’s up to you.

Good

  • Combat can be quite enjoyable, but only in co-op
  • Overkill mode is awesome
  • Gun modding is awesome
  • BROS BROS BROS BROS BROS BROS BROS

Bad

  • No replay value.
  • No point solo playing
  • Thinnest of paper thin plots
  • Shameful glorifying of a morally bankrupt industry of licensed murder
12 comments (Leave your own)
kinistoniscool

NICE review, new touch to it lol co-op must be the only way to play this game :D

 

Bought this game last week for every reason stated in this review, yet to start it though veteran of its TWO (puns) predecessors.
The detail it goes into when upgrading weapons gets a bit much when me and mate just want to go on a killing spree.
Whilst you can make your weapon multi coloured, pimping it is the only way to go.

 

Shameful glorifying of a morally bankrupt industry of licensed murder

doesn’t every shooter do this, at least the murder part ?

 

spooler,

Perhaps, but look up Blackwater on wiki to give you an idea of what PMC’s do.

Unlike regular military, who are, for the most part, built around an idea of discipline, PMC’s are people hired to do bullying, sanctioned killing and bounty hunting in warzones for money. They aren’t fighting for country, they are fighting to get paid, and they have to kill to do it. That should give you an idea of how truly evil theY actually are.

I agree with you heavily though. I’ve made an article about it before – the Heroes and Sociopath’s one. Too many games glorify murder.

 

Will agree that its a guilty pleasure and something I play with my brother on the odd occasion, as just slamming down overkill mode to wipe out 200 people in a row is just fun. Story was pretty bleh, but gameplay was enjoyable enough, and the few “which way do you wanna go” choices made things interesting and caused a few fights. Not worth playing SP, so get a mate around to play this.
Each mission is super short though, so you’ll find yourself finding alot of time getting cash after what feels like 10 mins of playing, getting the opportunity to upgrade, then getting back into the fight.

Yup, creating an insane weapon is the best thing to do; explosive rounds on an M1 whilst holding a grenade launching hunting shotgun and a solid gold g18.

spooler,

That the joke/witty political comment on the games industry.

 

Played the demo a few months back (both alone and with my bro). I had the same feeling as what was said in the review. Fantastic guns system and the controls are a lot tighter than the previous two games. But generic as hell and hardly any story despite the frequent banter..

I’ll look for this 3rd entry in a bargain bin but I’m not sure I’ll make it through the whole game. Getting a bit sick of these B grade shooters. Was hoping FUSE would be a fresh injection into the genre but it’s rather bland too.

 

i’ll get it for the coop, had fun with the first one with a mate for a quiet night in on the drinks and some gaming lol

 

Nemesis_22,

Whilst most of Blackwater’s (now Xe or summin?) behaviors are pretty abhorent, mostly millitary contractors function as a conflict zone work-horses, doing tasks government troops don’t. Not because they’re especially ‘dirty’ but because they’re tedious, escorting supply trucks and standing guard at embassies for endless hours, or picking up VIPs and taking them to safe zones. It’s simply seen as a waste of overly trained and overly equipped combat troops to have conventional army units perform these tasks.

Having said all that having paramilitary units with little proper command hierarchy is bound to cause problems. I think PMC’s are a bad move because in most modern conflicts they have even less moral investment in the country they’re operating within than regular troops, who pretty frequently show precious little. Plus armies need to suck it up and do their own grunt work, if you don’t like the costs then don’t go to war. Farming it out to the private sector is just bad at an organisational level if nothing else.

I don’t really see much difference between a soldier being told by his command to go to another country and fight versus a contractor being told by his company to go to another country and fight. Both ultimately are driven by the political will of their civilian leaders anyway.

 

ploxum:
Having said all that having paramilitary units with little proper command hierarchy is bound to cause problems.

Sons of the Patriots then?
http://metalgear.wikia.com/wiki/Sons_of_the_Patriots#Functions

Nice article. I swear until it got to the lower caps I thought it was tobes writing this.
This is on PC right?

 

“bullying, sanctioned killing and bounty hunting in warzones for money”

I think you’ll find a lot more soldiers join the army for these reasons or at least the appeal of cash than honour or nationalism.

 

tacitus42,

Sadly, no PC. Xbawx only. And I take the Tobes writing similarity as a compliment :P

moley117,

Can’t speak for overseas, but I know here in Australia that they have pretty strict psyche testing to weed that sort of thing out. That sort of individual can have a pretty drastic effect on soldiers around them. And they aren’t as common as you might seem to believe. Won’t say they don’t exist, but that argument doesn’t exactly hold, as many stay with the military rather than join PMC’s – who pay far, far better than the military. That seems to indicate a more powerful hold than money.

 
 
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