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April 15, 2013
Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel - PS3 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
28/3/2013EA GamesEA GamesVisceral Montreal1-22
Media HDD Install Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating
Disc1395MB720pNoNoR18+

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Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel looks good thanks to the Frostbite 2 engine.
EA's Army of Two franchise is one which has seen two releases, the original game in 2008, and then the sequel Army of Two: The 40th Day two years later. Now in 2013 the third game Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is hitting shelves and while the previous game never set sales records, EA Games will be hoping this game sets new heights for the franchise - especially as the previous game only shifted 1.1 million units between the PS3, 360 and PSP versions.

In The Devil's Cartel you take part in a T.W.O. operation against La Guadaña (the Scythe), a ruthless criminal organization that holds the people of Mexico in its murderous grip. The cartel rules through fear, violence, and intimidation, killing without remorse and corrupting the government for their own sadistic ends. Only you and your T.W.O. teammate can lead an uprising into the heart of the Devil’s Cartel and bring swift, bloody justice to the Mexican people.

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Taking the battle to the forests.
To be honest the storyline in this game was, well, pretty crap. Confused, boring and uninspired especially after recently playing games including The Walking Dead, Tomb Raider and Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch each of which had brilliant storylines. Playing through this game was made all the more duller with the replacement of previous, and moderately entertaining, lead characters, Salem and Rios, with the rather bland (in name and personality) Alpha and Bravo. What is evident is that the games humour has been toned back for this game, or what is there seems somewhat off - and it makes the game much more generic as a result with a lack of "freshness".

As a third person action game, the mechanics are all here. Decent gunfire, a cover system (we'll discuss this a little more later), waves of enemies, multiple modifiable weapons. As you blast your way through the levels you'll earn money depending on your performance, but the way in which money is earned really pushes the game towards co-op play - as a single player experience you'll struggle to get a lot of money if you just blast through the levels. This money is used to purchase new weapons, or upgrade them, or purchase new clothing or tattoos.

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Alpha and Bravo are pretty bland characters.
As we mentioned Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is built with co-op in mind and the 2-player game can be played in either split-screen or online. Even this area of the game is poorly developed though - if someone jumps into your game online, then you will need to go back to the start of the level. That's annoying, but when someone left our online game and we were kicked back to the start of the level again. What the !@$# is that?!

This third title in the series also sees the return of the Overkill meter which, when full, can be activated by pressing L2 (or down on the D-Pad for your AI partner in single player) which turns you invincible for a short while with an amplification to your firepower thereby causing massive destruction. No doubt it's entertaining, but unrealistic and means there are very few moments in the game when you will get stuck as this Overkill mode becomes available quite frequently.

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Upgrading your weapons.
When developing a shooter in today's market one of the key elements is the cover system, but the developers got this element wrong. In order to move from one piece of cover to another you need to aim at the cover, press the L1 button and then press X. Why so complicated? Not only that but, at times, your character won't move to the next bit of obvious cover even when you're standing right in front of it.

What redeems the game a little more is the destructible environments. Take cover behind a crate and it will likely be blown away with some gunfire or an explosion, cars will catch fire and explode, walls and concrete pillars will break away. The level of destruction is pretty impressive.

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Firing on the chopper.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this game is the lack of value. It's a full-priced game with a campaign around 7 -8 hours and while it includes the ability to play the campaign with a partner in co-op that isn't enough to have you returning. Unlike previous games in the franchise there are no competitive multiplayer modes. Sure, the developers have added in a new "mask creator" which allows you to design and customise your characters' mask, but let's face it, you're painting a mask - give me real game modes any day.

Enemy AI in the game also needs to be criticised. There are so many moments when, for no apparent reason enemies just come out from cover and put themselves in extreme danger for little apparent reason. When we're walking up the road blasting everything away, why run across the road to move from solid cover such as a wall or car, to take up a position behind destructable objects.

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Check out the explosion ahead.
We must also make mention of the R18+ rating on this game. While Michael reviewed God of War: Ascension a couple of weeks ago, this is my first R18+ rated video game. In all honesty I'm disappointed, but perhaps not for the reasons you expect. You see while this game is violent, it's nothing that pushes beyond what we've seen in many MA15+ rated games in the past. We can only hope that the Australian Classification Board isn't moving games up in ratings now that a higher rating is available. Still, this definitely isn't a game for youngsters so bear that in mind.

Using the Frostbite 2 engine (as opposed to Unreal Engine 3 which the previous games ran on), Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is a pretty impressive looking game with some great looking character models and some slick animations, detailed environments with plenty of destruction, and some gorgeous cut scenes. Now we're not saying this is the best looking game ever - it still gets eclipsed by Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty - but where it falls down is the glitches. We've seen clipping errors, been stuck behind our AI controlled co-op partners (although this isn't strictly a graphical error), and noted other graphical nasties such as some very angular character models.

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Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is violent.
Sonically The Devil's Cartel is decent enough with plenty of dialogue both during the cut scenes and during battles, some decent sound effects with some great explosions and a pretty decent music score composed by Brian Tyler. While this game won't get any awards it's functional enough.

Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is a step backwards for the franchise with much of the humour from earlier games missing, a disappointing lack of competitive multiplayer and relatively short game life being the biggest flaws. Let's hope Electronic Arts have their better development teams working on next-gen titles, as this game disappoints. Don't get me wrong, it's not a complete mess or unplayable and if you're looking for a solid co-op shooter then this will fill in some time, but it's probably best as a rental, or bargain bin purchase.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSUsing the Frostbite 2 engine this is a pretty nice looking game albeit with occasional glitches.
76%
SOUNDA decent sounding game in general although dialogue is a bit meh.
78%
GAMEPLAYIt's a third person shooter with a focus on co-op gameplay. Not terrible, but nothing we haven't seen before, and better.
73%
VALUEA full priced game with a 7-8 hour campaign in single player or co-op but no competitive multiplayer.
49%
OVERALLWe enjoyed the previous games, but this third game is a letdown overall. Only for those looking for a co-op game.
71%

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