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Army Of Two: Devil's Cartel And Why Gaming Needs "Dumb" Games

Story isn't everything.

There’s been a real push this generation to improve game stories. That’s not to say that good stories are unique to recent games, the likes of Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy titles have made attempts to tell grand stories in the past, but it seems like the story has been increasingly pushed to the front of many games. From huge titles like Mass Effect and the recent Tomb Raider, to the smaller ones like Thomas Was Alone, the story has been central to success. As someone who loves a good story I can only hope for more of them.

However this push has, in my opinion, had a bit of an adverse affect on some titles which have forgettable or shallow plots, receiving less favourable reactions than they would have in the past. I recently played through Army Of Two: The Devil’s Cartel, a game that wasn’t met with much fanfare and won’t any win awards for its story telling, but offered something that seems to be a bit of on a decline – silly, over the top fun.


Alpha & Bravo. Generic names for a game.
You see, Army Of Two: The Devil’s Cartel is just a big, dumb, action game. It’s full of silly dialogue, explosions and so many action sequences that shouldn’t make sense, yet somehow work. It’s part of a club that includes Bulletstorm and the recently released Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, coming from a school of thought that throws deep story telling out of the window, replacing it with explosions.

Army Of Two: The Devil’s Cartel makes jokes about red barrels being explosive and has an Overkill feature that means for a few glorious seconds you become an invincible super soldier with unlimited explosive ammo and unlimited grenades. Sure, it doesn’t feature compelling story telling or a captivating narrative, but it is just unashamed fun.

That’s not to say it’s completely missing a story though, there’s still a core narrative set around the current Cartel problem in Mexico. It’s a situation that shouldn’t be made light of and, surprisingly, the game manages to avoid doing just that.

Instead, Devil’s Cartel keeps the comedy elements to the dialogue between the protagonists Alpha & Bravo (yeah, not a ton of thought there), while the world around them shows the brutality of the Mexican Cartels. That’s not to say that the story is deadly serious though, with the game featuring characters like a hitman named El Diablo who wears a red mask.

This is the kind of plot you expect in a silly action movie, and that’s pretty much what Devil’s Cartel is. You have your standard bad guy, a shallow plot, and even a buddy cop dynamic thrown in for good measure. It’s a game you play when you just want to unwind with something that doesn’t ask too much of you. It’s something we all need from time to time, and maybe the best thing about it is that you don’t have to enjoy it alone.


Sometimes it's all about explosions.
Split screen co-op gaming is also something that seems to have fallen out of style this generation, pushed aside in favour of online multiplayer. It’s a move I’m not a fan of due to the amount of time my brother and I spent playing co-op games when we were younger, a pleasure that’s largely been taken away from us now. For the first time in ages Devil’s Cartel allowed us to play through the campaign, and it was a lot of fun.

We didn’t care about the story while we were playing, we simply experienced the absurdity of Devil’s Cartel together, laughing at some of the situations as well as our own antics. We cleared waves of enemies together and made jokes about each other’s performances.

You’re probably wondering why I’m so enthusiastic about a silly action game, but more than the game itself it’s what it represents. It’s a type of game that many may well be hoping will vanish entirely, games that focus purely on the spectacle and not the story. It can feel like any game that doesn’t offer a good narrative is pushed aside because it just isn’t mature, with Borderlands and Bulletstorm probably being the major exceptions recently.

Somewhere along the line the message apparently became that gamers want mature stories with big emotional impact. It’s hard to disagree with that, I do want to play those kind of games. However, the thing is, I don’t want that in every game, just like I don’t want every movie to be a Saving Private Ryan or Shawshank Redemption.

Because on some days I just want a dumb, fun spectacle.

21 Comments
  1. Winkle
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    So is this game worth picking up? I keep changing my mind over getting it. Maybe just a quick look on eBay to see if its cheap…

    Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 09:17.
    • Aran Suddi
      Member
      Since: Sep 2011

      Worth it if you have some one to play with. Not a full price purchase but it isn’t bad.

      Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 09:29.
      • Winkle
        Member
        Since: Nov 2009

        Is it worth 24 green queens? Zavvi have it on offer.

        Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 10:34.
      • Aran Suddi
        Member
        Since: Sep 2011

        Could probably wait a bit for it to drop if you have other games to grt through. The campaign os roughly 7 hours long.

        Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 10:37.
      • Winkle
        Member
        Since: Nov 2009

        oh ok thanks.

        Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 10:39.
  2. KeRaSh
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    That’s exactly why I loved Red Faction: Guerilla. No other game provided me with so much over the top sillyness this generation (Just Cause 2 is a close second) and the great physics engine made it all possible.

    Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 09:36.
  3. Youles
    Member
    Since: Feb 2011

    Great article. I really quite enjoyed the demo of this, and the set piece in the chopper, but sadly the things that put me off were that the player is fixed to the camera (compared to something like Dead Space) which is just a personal preference, and that I’d probably only enjoy it co-op which means I’d have to wait for a mate to be available at the same time as me.

    For me a good example of good story and below-par gameplay would be Bioshock Infinite. It still feels clunky and pretty basic and hasn’t changed at all, however its all about the story – I read a few articles after completing the game (something I don’t think I’ve ever done), and now I have more appreciation for the game due to its complexities.

    A guess GTA is a game that I play for messing about with, the story is pretty rubbish (although sometimes amusing), but its all about stealing cars and jumping off buildings for me!

    Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 10:34.
    • yiddo
      Member
      Since: Jun 2010

      GTA V could have a great story though with the way things are set up.

      Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 12:25.
      • Youles
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        Yeah true, I think I prefer the 3 alternative paths, for a bit of variation!

        Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 14:26.
  4. wonkey-willy
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    Theres dumb amd then there is this..
    Fortunately i rented it from love film..
    Playing through this on my own with Ai backing me up..
    Someone must of said hey lets make a generic A to B shooter.
    Throw in some rock solid computer intelligence and you wont really need to do anything.it becomes a tedious slog and a bit mundane.
    Cant vouch for co-op cos o dont know anyone with ot

    Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 10:43.
  5. Eldave0
    andUandU
    Since: Aug 2008

    Good article. Personally I play computer games for fun, something that very few games seem to focus on these days. Leave the story telling to the film industry I say.

    Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 10:43.
    • yiddo
      Member
      Since: Jun 2010

      No.

      We need a balance of great storytelling games and just pure, fun games that don’t have a deep story. Why one or the other? Why not both.

      Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 12:27.
      • Germanos
        Member
        Since: May 2011

        When both goals are met, you have a masterpiece or a game to be a legendary one. It happened before ^^.

        Comment posted on 08/05/2013 at 10:30.
  6. Crazy_Del
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Great article Aran. My friend and I have decided to pick this up when its around £20. I enjoyed the demo and I have completed both Army of Two years ago. It may be 7hrs for the campaign but as for the trophies/Platinum (Mainly me) =P I heard it requires two playthroughs so overall a 14hr campaign and it will give a chance to switch characters aswell seeing as there are two different routes. But still great read and I love explosives xD

    Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 11:47.
  7. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Spot on, Aran. You’re on a roll with great articles, fella.

    Tef, Ryan Martin and I have just finished Dead Island Riptide. I can’t speak for them but, for me, it was supremely enjoyable fun. The fundamental premise and how the game mechanics work (or glitch!) are what makes this a wonderful game to me. Sure, if I was remaining objective and reviewing it for a website I’d have it pegged at 7 or 8 out of 10 but that doesn’t stop it being sublime for me on a personal level.

    Both inFamous and Red Faction: Guerilla would score the same. I can see where the improvements are to be made but those core fundamentals are so lovely, silly, empowering, hilarious (at times) that it makes for some of the best gaming on my calendar – something we all seem so eager to shoot down because of other merits that should never be compared. Sure, these games might not have cutting edge graphics or award winning music but the games themselves contain oodles of entertainment and long may it continue!

    Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 12:07.
  8. Broonba
    Member
    Since: Mar 2009

    Great article Aran. I wish there were loads more games that had co-op campaigns as my wee nephew loves playing co-op with me. From Borderlands 2 to Dead Island, we’ve had an absolute blast. I just wish there were loads more co-op opportunities.

    Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 14:42.
  9. DASHhouse
    Member
    Since: May 2013

    AGREED!!
    I just signed up on this website to reply to this article.
    I have an friend that I game with and we are always on the lookout for two player, online co-op games to have fun with. This recently included RE5, RE6, AoT 40th Day, Dead Space 3, and now AoT Devil Cartel. It isn’t just about the story, we want to shoot things & blow stuff up together and have a laugh. Yeah, a great story might give us something else to talk about but we can talk about other stuff if the story isn’t great. We just want to have fun. We read the reviews when DC came out and this game got some really poor ones, but most of them had a line hidden away in them saying “much improved if played with a friend”. We ignored the poor reviews, played the demo and then bought it. By no means is it a “great game” but we are having a great time with it.
    I see FUSE going the same way and will no doubt find that fun too (with a friend) despite any poor reviews which i also see happening.

    This is what bugs me about the ps4 hype. I dont need better graphics. I dont need realistic lighting and shadows/reflections that make it look just like the real thing. Give me fun for heavens sake. use the ps4 power to give MORE fun. Better AI, bigger levels, longer playtimes, more variety, more interaction and more options. Oh, and less loading screens (’cause they’re not FUN).

    Far Cry Blood dragon case in point. Anyone complaining about the blocky 80’s style graphics on the loading screens and cut sceens? Nope. plenty of comments on gameplay and fun though.

    Long live fun gaming.

    Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 14:56.
    • bunimomike
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      Top stuff, fella.

      The very reason we dived in to this thread on the forum.

      Teflon (writer/contributor and televisual celebrity at TSA) and I love our co-op gaming. It influences everything we look at.

      Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 16:00.
    • Germanos
      Member
      Since: May 2011

      The problem is Resident Evil and Dead Space started as brilliant games, with decent action/fun and a solid story in them (especially RE). If you haven’t played any previous ones, you can be satisfied be how they are now, but from my perspective I think it’s rubbish what they have become.

      Comment posted on 08/05/2013 at 10:33.
      • DASHhouse
        Member
        Since: May 2013

        Yep Agree completely. RE was by far one of my best gaming experiences I ever had. RE6 was no where near it. Still had fun playing it though. I am able to be disappointed in the way the series went but get on with the recent game. Co-op helped my enjoyment in all these recent games, not sure how enjoyable they would be without it.

        Comment posted on 08/05/2013 at 13:00.
  10. Kennykazey
    Member
    Since: Mar 2010

    Story is overrated, it’s always good to have one, but gameplay is king. It’s all about entertainment values.

    Comment posted on 07/05/2013 at 18:04.

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