Army of Two was all about bromantic frolics through blood-spattered, limb-strewn locales. So was the sequel, The 40th Day. And so is the newest sequel, The Devil's Cartel. For some people, that just doesn't cut it anymore.
The Devil's Cartel's biggest flaw, it seems, is its stubborn refusal to change—something that takes away quite a lot from the game's otherwise fun, explosion- and dismemberment-filled co-op gameplay. Here's what six reviewers had to say.
Having had its third crack at the whip, Army of Two would do well to evolve or at the very least refine itself. There's only so much mileage in any idea, and when your idea is this spartan, there's not much gas in the tank at the best of times. Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is EA Montreal's second sequel, yet it bears all the missteps of a first attempt, and retreads old ground in a less than forgivable way. There's nothing wrong with a game like Army of Two, fundamentally. There's plenty wrong with this iteration of it.
Sure, the cover mechanics are clumsy, the shooting is a little stiff, and the game’s insistence on constantly spawning enemies behind you destroys any sense of strategy or positioning, but there’s a certain primal thrill to mowing down your enemies and blowing apart their cover while completely invincible. Before long, however, you realize that one-note adolescent power fantasy is the only thing The Devil’s Cartel has to offer, repeated over and over with almost no variation or downtime.
It didn't take long for the seven-hour campaign to devolve into one relentless slog, irritatingly punctuated by frequent score updates that add little to the overall experience. You’re awarded points for different types of kills and performing co-op actions, but even as your ranking increases there's very little real impact on gameplay. New guns and gear unlock, but the arsenal is small and lacks real personality.
Glitches rear their head occasionally, but rarely required a restart in my experience. One prevented custom masks and outfits to load, so our characters were nothing more than floating heads, arms, and feet. Others caused odd line-of-sight issues and floating environmental objects. At one point, after a thorough search of the environment yielded no further enemies, my co-op partner and I had to restart the whole fight because the game didn’t think we had cleared the area.
One of the major disconnects with Army of Two is the intelligence—or lack thereof—of enemies. While some will seek cover, others will charge screaming while brandishing machetes. They will often stand idly nearby while you’re being revived and not capitalize on the chance to eliminate you. The other missteps are cosmetic. The ghastly carnage is occasionally peppered with forced dialogue between several of the characters, often trying to be a little funny; it simply doesn’t work as jokes are being dispensed at literally the same moment live grenades are landing at your feet. There’s no amount of humor that makes sense in the environment created here, as death and sadness are an overarching theme.
What keeps Devil's Cartel from growing stale and tedious are the gleefully exaggerated destructive spectacles it paints. Wooden objects might as well be made of sawdust, but damn near everything else that isn't solid metal disintegrates credibly as bullets whiz and explosives detonate. Plus, firing on the same foes steadily fills a meter you can tap to unleash the temporary invulnerability, unlimited ammunition, and huge damage bonus of Overkill Mode. Nuking the heck out of everything in slow-motion is always entertaining.
Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel isn't good game. Yet it isn't really even a bad game, either. It's simply a game whose lack of a compelling reason to be played speaks to the absence of any compelling reason for it to be made.
Top image courtesy of Gergő Vas.