realnewby's Army of TWO: The Devil's Cartel (Xbox 360) review

This Should be Bad Boys III

When a new game is being prepped for release, there are multiple opportunities to build or destroy expectations based on what the publisher does. In the case of Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel, EA managed to destroy most expectations by laying off an entire studio shortly before the game’s release date. This move would normally indicate that the publisher has no faith in the final product. This may or may not be the case, but Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel does a fine job of exceeding these lowered expectations.

Custom masks increase the ridiculousness of Army of Two.

The Devil’s Cartel may be the third entry in the Army of Two series, but it features many changes from the previous games including new main characters, new locations, and a new developer. Rios and Salem have been replaced as the main characters by Alpha and Bravo, two new recruits in the T.W.O. (Trans World Operations) military firm. Alpha and Bravo are sent into Mexico to protect Mayor Cordova from the drug cartel that is targeting him. This cartel destroys a T.W.O. convoy and separates Alpha and Bravo from Cordova, starting a race across Mexico to reach the mayor first.

While searching for Cordova, Alpha and Bravo shoot, stab, and otherwise murder thousands of cartel soldiers that are in their way. This action is the best part of the Devil’s Cartel. Like previous games, there are a myriad of weapons that can be bought and customized in order to create unique weapons of death—the most effective of which is a fully automatic shotgun with dragon’s-breath shells. The action is a standard cover-based shooter mixed with vicious melee kills and the occasional turret sequence. Running from cover to cover can become tedious at times, but Visceral adds in set pieces that would make Michael Bay jealous.

The action may be enjoyable, but the story is less so. A predictable and shallow plot makes Army of Two into a more meaningless exercise in violence. Yes, there are plot twists to be had, but the writers didn’t hide them very well. The main saving graces of the story are the main two characters, Alpha and Bravo. These two recruits start as the standard “bro” soldiers, but they show a surprising amount of growth throughout the campaign. Sure, both Alpha and Bravo will spout some genuinely stupid lines about fake Canadian girlfriends or fishing boats, but there is something endearing about them.

Stupid lines of dialogue are one way to make Alpha and Bravo stand out from the rest of the faceless members of T.W.O., but other customization options can also add uniqueness. Like previous Army of Two games, most of the guns can be customized with different parts and paint jobs—for some reason, the handguns can only be painted—including silencers and extra-large magazines. The Devil’s Cartel also has a custom mask creator so Alpha and Bravo can look extra ridiculous while murdering the cartel members.

Army of Two: the Devil’s Cartel may not be the most refined game ever created, but it is a lot of fun. Occasional technical glitches and lack of a solid plot keep the Devil’s Cartel from being perfect; however, playing with a co-op partner can be a truly entertaining experience.

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