Army of TWO: The Devil's Cartel

Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel Hands-On Preview – Three's a Crowd

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Graveyard shootouts are nothing new. Movies like Hard Target, Terminator 3, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Seven Psychopaths all neglected to pay due respect to the dead by shooting up their tombstones and running roughshod over their burial plots. You can add Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel to that list, as new heroes Alpha and Bravo, lead by female bullet sponge, Fiona, stomp through a Day of the Dead festival seemingly exclusively attended by vicious members of drug cartels. It's a recipe for disaster.

Our hands-on demo takes place from the beginning of the game's nineteenth chapter, titled 'Among the Dead', meaning we're some way into the game's narrative. Though not the most original setting for a violent shoot 'em up sequence, the graveyard showcases the extra layer of destruction that the Frostbite 2 Engine brings to the party for The Devil's Cartel. Tombstones break and crumble as bullets thump into them in jets of dust, while enemies go down like proverbial sacks of crap as you spray hot lead in all directions.

Weapons in this Army of Two are loud and proud, all rasping fury and grinding metal. You can customise the hell out of them too with the cash you earn, more so than any Army of Two game to date, with muzzles, clips, barrels, attachments, scopes and other accoutrements, including custom paint jobs and what not. You pack three weapons, with a primary rifle, secondary heavy weapon and sidearm handgun, and you can always buy others to add to your armoury, all of which can be customised and switched out between missions. Fancy trading in your gold AK47 for a silver M16? Go for it. Fancy an assault shotgun rather than that rocket launcher you've been using to turn criminals into giblets? Change it up then.

You can customise Alpha and Bravo too, with various equipment such as flak jackets and other items of apparel to choose from, as well as more than a bit of ink, with tattoo designs that can be applied on any areas of exposed skin. Their arms, basically. Alpha and Bravo's masks can also be tinkered with, offering up a range of preset decals, alongside a tool that enables you to create your very own mask designs. Expect secret, unlockable mask designs from EA's other IP too.

The Devil's Cartel chapters we play during our demo time are fairly short and punchy, with firefights breaking out at every turn, once we've opened proceedings by infiltrating the festival in the cemetery. Sneaking in, we're left with the choice to either fire the first bullet or wait until a tattooed thug spots us and opens fire. We politely extend the courtesy of breaking the ice with a shotgun shell, shattering the silence and tearing the graveyard asunder. As we blast our way through the aggressive enemies who aren't exactly the sharpest tools in the box, running out in to the open to gladly accept their lead salad, chunks of masonry fly off of buildings and cover is reduced to lumps of grey Swiss cheese in a matter of seconds.

Most bad guys – the less stupid ones – retreat to cover and demand flanking tactics, and it's these kinds of manoeuvres that feed into the game's co-op loop, rewarding teamwork with a boost to your Overkill meter. Should you find yourself pinned down or in a tight spot with enemies bearing down on you, activating Overkill renders you temporarily invulnerable and able to blow cartel scum away with infinite bullets and no pesky reloading to slow down the wanton violence. It's during these Overkill moments that enemies are shredded to ribbons by bullets, upping the gore factor considerably with exposed rib cages, exploding heads and dismembered limbs flying around the screen. It gives Django Unchained a run for its money in the bloodsoaked shootout stakes.

Descending into the mausoleum, the next chapter leads us into more troublesome and frenetic firefights, before Alpha and Bravo descend ever further underground into the pitch darkness of the subterranean catacombs. This section proves to be rather novel, with the only light provided by muzzle flashes from the cartel members running around the labyrinthine tunnels. We need to stay frosty and keep an eye out for movement in the shadows. Following the electrical cables running through the passageways, we soon acquire a weapon with a mounted flashlight, and we're in business. Although we're still unprepared for the screeching maniacs hiding in dark corners brandishing machetes, we're more than well equipped to reach the end of the impenetrable pitch black after a few co-op revives and hair trigger kills, as enemies jump out from seemingly nowhere.

Before we even realise how much time has passed, we've ripped through four or five chapters with our co-op buddy and enjoyed a few entertaining gunfights with the odd novel twist thrown in here and there for good measure. It may not be much of a visual powerhouse at present, but Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is shaping up to be an enjoyable co-op cover shooter in a similar mould to its predecessors. It's more solid and weighty than Army of Two and its follow-up however, with plenty of potential to provide a good few hours of somewhat throwaway fun, bolstered by the joyous destruction that Frostbite 2 affords. Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel isn't going to be the most refined, cerebral affair, but then who the hell ever expected that from an Army of Two game anyway?

Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is out on March 26th in North America and March 29th in Europe.


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Game Info
Visceral Games
Electronic Arts


US March 26, 2013
Europe March 29, 2013

Price: Free
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