Is it worth teaming up for ?
Army of Two was never EA's best running franchise. It's not a bad series, but not an amazing one either. Surprising then, that a third installment had received the green light. This time, Visceral Games get a chance behind the tactical third person shooter series. Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is a reboot of sorts, leaving out the masked protagonists from the previous games. We are introduced to two new faces, known as Alpha and Bravo. They are very generic, just like the names they are given. It's hard to find them interesting as they lack any real personality. The plot isn't much better either. They are currently part of T.W.O (Tactical Worldwide Operations) and are tasked to take down an Mexican Drug's-cartel. It's a typical narrative that lacks any real depth. It does have a few twists and turns along the way, but it's weak story-telling doesn't make it any more interesting.
Narrative isn't the main concern, though. TDC suffers mainly due to it's glitches, poor design choices and bland gameplay. The Army of Two series is known for it's creative co-op mechanics. Working together is part of the fun. Whether it's creating covering fire so your partner can flank enemies, breaching doors, or simply boosting one another up high to reach surfaces. These are some of the most fun aspects from the past games. However, none of it seems as fun as it used too. It may be due to many of it's interesting mechanics disappearing. For some bazaar reason, the intense back-to-back sequences have completely vanished. There's also no Aggro system or the ability to play dead. It seems that EA where going for a more realistic approach, but it makes the game feel much shallower.
One of the biggest annoyances in TDC is that there's no drop-in-drop out co-op. For a game that relies heavily on cooperative play, this is a poor design choice. If you have a friend who is dedicated to sticking without throughout, you shouldn't have much of a problem. However, if a random player leaves whilst in-game, you are forces to restarting the whole level. This is also the case if another player wants to join your game. Playing solo with an AI partner is far less trouble, and it can be much more rewarding. You can issue commands to your AI partner. From throwing grenades, breaching entrances and providing covering fire. It is fairly decent for an AI, and you will be saved in near death situations. Although, most of your time can easily be handled alone.
Shooting is one of the few positives the game has. It's solid, accurate and can be fun. The cover system also works rather well, if a little fiddly at times. With a simple button tap, you can dart from cover to cover. Sometimes it's very responsive and reliable, whilst other times it can be simply annoying. You may find your self occasionally moving to cover that you didn't intend moving too. When it does work ,though, it can be fun to flank enemies, then startling them with a penetration of bullets. The cover is also destructible, which can force you and your enemies out of hiding spots. It keeps the gameplay frantic, but it's not that challenging. This is due to the mediocre AI, which can be very dumb at times. They will simply run out in your line of fire, move around in predictable ways, and can be slow at responding. It makes gunning them down so much easier. You might as well shoot a load of headless chickens.
Most of the game will result in shooting, taking cover, then rinse and repeat. It's more interesting when you and your partner are forced to split up. For example, one could be shooting from an helicopter, whilst the other is on foot. These moments supposed to feel like team work, but it doesn't have that co-op touch. Due to it's poor enemy AI, it doesn't always feel like your helping out your friend. Most of the time, taking down the cartel can be easily done solo.
The game is most enjoyable when using the OverKill mode. This is more of a gimmick from the previous aggro system. As you and your partner take down enemies, a meter will fill up. Once full, you can trigger OverKill, which turns you into an invincible killing machine. Your weapons receive explosive ammo round, allowing you to tear up the environment. You have no worry of dying whilst in OverKill, so running in like a mad man is always fun. With the game using the Frostbite engine, destruction can be caused to many of the scenery. Yet, it isn't as deep as Battlefield's destruction. Most of the textures and animation are also dull and murky.
Customization does make a return. It is one of the more redeeming features the game has to offer. Throughout each level, you will earn cash by killing and working together This can then be spent at the Armoury. From here, you can purchase new masks for your character, clothing and stylish tattoos. You can also create your very own custom mask. There's also a nice range of weapons that can be pimped out to your taste. From red dot sights, scopes, to stylish gold and chrome finishers. It's not very deep, but there's a decent amount to satisfy.
The Devil's Cartel is the weakest in the Army of Two Series. It can be fun at times, especially with it's OverKill mode. However, compared to it's predecessors, it feels very shallow and lacks ambition. With it's weak narrative, glitches and generic gameplay, TDC is hard to recommend.