April 26, 2013

1158 words 6 mins read

Review: Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel

Today, I’d like to talk to you about Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel, the third entry in the Army of Two franchise. Jon and I both enjoyed Army of Two and Army of Two: The 40th Day. We enjoyed it so much that I composed an ode to Army of Two for AoT 2’s release date and Jon did a review of The 40th Day after we finished it. Unfortunately, the third entry does not live up to its predecessors.

FYI, there will be storyline spoilers for the entire series to date.

== Storyline ==

At the end of AoT 2, you have 3 options: Shoot Rios, Salem, or Jonah. Shooting your partner, Rios or Salem, results in the invading forces being stopped, no giant bomb going off, and the UN retaking the city. Shooting Jonah results in the loss of the city. Also, during AoT 2 you lose Alice — her chopper goes down and she is presumed dead.

In AoT 3, Salem and Rios are still alive and kicking. In fact, you (Alpha & Bravo) are on a mission with them to save some girl. Uh oh! Girl is already dead, but wait! There is another girl, Fiona, who is still alive. Rios wants to save her; Salem doesn’t. As you are escorting the girl out, you are pinned down and lose Salem under a truck. Rios is very sad that his best bud is dead, but wait! In Act 2 we meet a mysterious masked stranger! Who could it be? It’s Salem! Back from the dead, and slaughtering everyone in T.W.O.

Toward the end of the game we finally get some clarification on the storyline. Salem tells Rios that he took a bullet for him in Shanghai (the setting of AoT 2) to save the city and that maybe it really was all for nothing as he shoots Rios in the gut and throws him over a bannister. Later, while Salem is shooting at and taunting us, he asks how Alice is and and if Rios left her to die as well.

After you beat the game, Bravo decides not to shoot Salem (reversing a position he has held since he found out he was the masked man) and instead it is off to jail with him. The last scene shows him carving “alice” into the wall of his cell.

== Bugs ==

If you are playing this by yourself, I’m sorry and I know your pain. Your AI partner will kill some enemies and come revive you if you are downed, but don’t ever ask him to help you against an MMG (Mounted Machine Gun). He will go down, over and over again.

After I beat the game, and saw the Mexican police take Salem away kicking and screaming, the game screen said:

**Contract Failed

Bravo was Killed

Restart Checkpoint

Restart Chapter

Difficulty

Quit**

I was… less than thrilled to see this message. I beat the game! Where are my kudos? Where are my achievements?

With a great lack of enthusiasm, I select Restart Checkpoint, and I’m back at the start of the horrible fight. Finish the fight, and now onto fight the assault vehicle again. Things seem to be going well until Bravo gets run over. Sigh… Restart Checkpoint… Beat the fight… fighting truck… Bravo gets run over again… And then another time. After 3 times of him being run over, I made sure that the truck always came after me, by running into the courtyard and I finally beat it. This time for real! I saw the credits and everything.

During the closing videos, bad guys are being handcuffed and taken away, but they all still have weapons attached to their backs. They are being led into police trucks with shotguns and assault rifles strapped to their backs! Heck, Salem still had a pistol strapped to his chest.

== Missing Features ==

One of the things Jon and I enjoyed with Army of Two was the witty banter between Salem and Rios. There was repartee! They got rid of that in this one. I guess the writers just couldn’t be bothered.

They also got rid of Co-Op Snipe/synchronized killing. There were several sections of the game where it seemed like it was setup to do that, but AI Bravo just decided to spray and pray. Also, in the previous games, using a silenced weapon would allow you to take out enemies without alerting their friends — not so AoT 3!

I think there are less than a dozen step jumps throughout the game, even including the step jumps onto a chopper (which seems kind of unnecessary). Speaking of choppers, those are the only “branch” options in the game. You get to decide who provides cover from the chopper while the other slogs through on the ground.

== New Features ==

Guns and parts are now unlocked through XP/leveling up; you still have to purchase the unlocked weapons/parts, but unlike AoT 2, there are no weapons to find in game based on choices you make. You now have a Primary, Secondary, and Sidearm. Assault, LMG, SMG, and Sniper are the categories for the first two, while Sidearm is strictly pistols (and there are more than just three, which eliminates a complaint Jon had about AoT 2).

I’m disappointed that buying parts aren’t shared between guns (a feature I loved in AoT 2), but that is how it was in the first game (and just about every other shooter I’ve played).

My favorite new feature, by far, is that you can now test fire guns/parts (and it takes all of 2 seconds to do). No more having to buy a part and fire up a mission just to test it out. This makes testing out potential purchases so much easier. The only downside is that you can’t add a bunch of parts to the gun and test fire it; you have to do it one part at a time. It is also a little disappointing that you have to buy the gun before being able to see what customizations are available.

The Mask Creator is brand new; it allows you to customize your mask with up to 10 layers (using all 10 nets you an achievement) of designs. Artistic types might have a lot of fun with this, but I created something simple. For those of you less enthused about your artistic ability, you can also purchase different masks, along with outfits and tattoos (for your left and right arms only).

== Conclusion ==

I mentioned to Jon that if this game didn’t have the “Army of Two” prefix, I wouldn’t be so down on it, but at the same time I probably wouldn’t have bought it.

If you want a shooter that you can play with another human on your team, this is a decent game with many customization options, but I’d wait for it to drop in price quite a bit.