From The Hip: A Quick Look At “Army Of Two: The Devil’s Cartel”

Aggros before hos.

Announced last August, Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel came somewhat out of the blue. With publisher EA cutting back on high-risk titles and the series’ less than ecstatic response from critics and consumers, before its announcement the notion of a third instalment seemed dubious at best.

This time around the game is set in Mexico with mainstay guns-for-hire Rio and Salem taking a back seat. Instead players fill the boots of Alpha and Bravo, Cartel’s creatively-named newcomers who are charged with tackling  a ruthless drug empire known as La Guadaña.

No matter how refined and endearing a game’s characters are, a fifteen minute, action-packed demo usually fails to do them justice. However, in this instance, a quarter of an hour seems more than enough time to get a read on Army of Two’s substitute shooters.

Alpha and Bravo could have intriguing motives for joining T.W.O and their crusade against “the Devil’s Cartel”, though the gameplay preview suggests otherwise.

Aside from the occasional, bare-boned exchange in dialogue there is little going for the characters. Rio and Salem were hardly well-written either, though their frequent fist-bumping, air guitar solos, and general musings at least gave them some kind of dynamic.

With that said, this is just a demo; Visceral could have crafted a meaningful relationship between the two mercs that develops over the course of the game, though it seems unlikely. Either that or we could have ourselves another Isaac Clarke/John Carver situation.

Compared to The 40th Day, gameplay feels much more refined in this latest addition.


Weapon customisation returns with players now able to design their own masks in-game.

The control scheme is generally tighter and the shooting more responsive with a few, minimal changes made to the game’s co-op mechanics. When playing with an AI partner, locally, or online you’ll still be working together to open doors and climb to high spaces with an occasional fork in the road here and there.

Army of Two’s “Aggro” mechanic also comes into play though isn’t quite as intrusive this time around. Previously, players’ actions in combat would be registered on a progressive, tug-of-war style meter.

As one player became more aggressive they would draw fire whilst the other would be free to sneak around and pick off stragglers. Though the concept still exists, the stealth/aggressive divide has been replaced by an “Overkill” meter which allows players brief phases of increased damage.

A number of cosmetic changes have also been made. For instance, Cartel’s UI and in-game displays have a washed out, computerised look almost identical to that of Medal of Honor and Battlefield. Visceral has also adopted Frostbite 2 technology but this is really only present in the game’s destructible environments.

They may add a bit of flare but ultimately do very little for the overall experience.

The Devil’s Cartel isn’t doomed for failure. If anything it’s a solid, responsive shooter though one that has very few ideas of its own. No doubt there will be plenty of punters wanting to get their couch co-op fix but if Visceral wants to settle for more than a passable product it needs to deliver some much-needed innovation.


  1. Army of TWO.

  2. Sub headline made me smile.

  3. I played the demo last night and while I did get some enjoyment out of it,. there were a few glaring problems (some which might have been fixed for the final release) but I found it annoying that during the demo I found I had to restart several times cos the AI bugged out and wouldn’t let me progress past co-op points. Also, why is there no option to turn off auto-aim? It’s really annoying cos the hit box for this is so large that it’s difficult to try and line up shots…Otherwise it was fun, better than the 40th day in a lot of ways but I think it’s a bargain title at best

  4. Played the demo last night with a mate. Don’t think this game could be any more generic if it tried. Its doesn’t seem bad it just seems average. Will probably rent it at some point and rattle through the easy trophy list.

  5. This was sold to me the moment Army of TWO and Frostbite 2.0 was put together in the same sentence.
    Sure it is not going to win any Oscar nominations, you won’t get attached to either character, but (as with the others) it has always been a generic over-the-top balls out co-op shooter.
    The demo was a good taste of AoT and Frosbite making for a “hey dude, let’s just shoot the sh*t outta EVERYTHING”. After playing the story intense Tomb Raider, enduring the patience required in Hitman and Sniper Elite, all I want to do is shoot the sh*t out of everything! Preferably in co-op, the more bullets the better.

    Great sub headline too!

  6. ‘Alpha’ and ‘Bravo’, that is some seriously lazy thinking right there!

  7. Salem is played by Joe Flanigan that played John Sheppard in Stargate Atlantis :)

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