After much anticipation of the game and having finally finished the game, I can truly confirm that this game is exactly what I expected it to be - mediocre.
The story revolves around Alpha and Bravo, 2 new operatives of T.W.O, Though there are mentions of the protagonists of the previous games. The action revolves around taking down a big drug cartel namely La Guadana. Apart from a very minor plot twist, the story is predictable. Developers Visceral Montreal opted for a more serious toned game this time around. The game has 40+ chapters, each can be completed in 15-20 minutes. My gameplay time clocked at around 8 hrs on Normal difficulty.
Gameplay wise, this game changed the formula from the previous 2 games. First and foremost, gone are the character interaction option between Alpha and Bravo. To be more specific, no fist bumps. Moving from cover to cover is now done a la Splinter Cell Conviction, where the player snaps from cover to cover. The mechanic feels smooth when it works, but most of the time feels slow and unresponsive. Also, the rolling mechanic has been taken out, which made character movement feel sluggish.
The shooting feels much more powerful this time around. Guns feel like they pack a punch, and enemies can sometimes die in a gory fashion. Arms can fly off when shot with a shotgun at point blank range, and mid sections can be blown off to show ribs and the like. But this doesn't have an effect on gameplay, it only serves as a visual feedback to the shooting. The aggro meter is represented by the new Overkill mechanic, where the player becomes invincible, with unlimited and explosive ammo. The Frosbite 2 engine is represented well with this mechanic where environmental destruction becomes a breeze and enemies decimated to bits. Morality choices introduced in the 40th day is also gone, but players are occasionally presented with pathway choices throughout the campaign. I personally did not try out the game with another person, but the co-op actions presented aren't as extensive compared to the previous games. The A.I partner was smart enough not to get itself killed to many times and flanking whenever possible.
Online mode exists in the form of Co-op (no competitive multiplayer present, nor horde mode from the retail version) and there is also a few bonus Contract missions available when a level is completed. Customization returns in the form of the guns themselves, the gear the player wears, and also the mask. Gun customization is akin to the first game. Weapons, gun parts, new gear and masks are made available via a ranking system where the more the player levels up, the more options are made available. Swapping gun parts between guns are no longer available. The choices feel slightly limited compared to the 40th day. Gear customization are only for cosmetic effects and no longer affect the armor rating of the player.
Visually the game looks decent. The explosions are often wonderful to look at (and there are tons of explosions), but the color scheme throughout the game feels lifeless and drab. Character models look muddy but weapon models look accurate and powerful. Audio wise, the guns do sound powerful and are differentiated from one gun to another. Voice acting is decent, and the music is unmemorable.
Overall, Aot: The Devil's Cartel is a fun third person shooter to play. In some respects, it feels like a step-down compared to the 40th day, but does improve on certain aspects i.e. gunplay and environmental destruction. It isn't the best cover shooter out there but decent enough game to blow some steam off through mindless mayhem.