Army Of Two: The Devils Cartel Lacks Personality
The Army of Two: Devils Cartel demo has seemingly confirmed what I was worried about. Sure the franchise has never really been all that great, but it has been a ton of fun to blast through with a friend. There was plenty of things that Army of Two & the 40th Day didn’t do all that well. In both games, a lot of the levels tended to be rather generic and lacked any real creativity. The enemy AI was pretty poor, borderline stupid at times, and the stories always tended be to lame…in a charming way. Even with their flaws, both games were enjoyable and allowed friends just to have some dumb fun. The cheesiness of the dialogue between Salem and Rios also produced a few guilty laughs, this added nicely to the tone of both games.
Personally I always did like the ‘bro’ charm of Army of Two, it had it’s own simple ways much like a cheesey 90′s action film. The weapon customization has also been rather impressive, if not a little over the top. It was always fun comparing hideous weapon load outs to a friends, along with the bubble gum pink paint job. The masks didn’t have much to offer in the first Army of Two , 40th Day however legitimized them thanks to user created designs. All of these features added to a delightful boiling pot allowing the player to have fun with simple things.
So what happens when you take away the ‘bro’ charm and the 90′s action movie like cheesiness? Apparently The Devils Cartel is what happens. For some bizarre reason, the Army of Two franchise has already been rebooted and given a more ‘gritty’ tone. Oddly this new gritty Army of Two seems to have an association with hip hop music. Most of the marketing and trailers released have been accompanied with some kinda of hip hop / rap track. The demo also features it’s very own track that kicks off the action, it’s slightly jarring. For a franchise trying to go down a more serious route the strong use of hip hop/rap music seems a bit odd.
The demo lacks any character, the same can be said for the cast. I recall the trailers for both the original Army of Two and 40th Day doing a decent job of showing off Salem and Rios characteristics and mannerism. Devils Cartel has only came off as utterly charmless. The lack of any charm or character is made even more apparent by the choices of Alpha and Bravo as the names for the two protagonists. It seems that ‘gritty’ is just EA’s codename for dull.
The gameplay within the demo works well enough, but never feels like anything great. There’s the usual mix of taking cover and blind firing while throwing a grenade or two. The Devils Cartel does feature one nice new addition to the franchise in the shape of an on screen scoring system. Seeing the points awarded popping up on the screen for doing various things is quite satisfying. It also adds a slight sense of progression. The level featured in the demo doesn’t do much to sell the game. It’s a simple run down corridor after corridor with little to no variation. It’s slightly worrying that this was the section chosen to ‘showcase’ the game to the masses.
Alpha and Bravo express little to no chemistry. The attempts at being dramatic and intense normally fell flat and end up feeling more underwhelming than anything. The whole demo just feels rather devoid of any personality. While it works on a technical level it doesn’t feel all that fun to play. Perhaps I’m just stubborn and unwelcoming towards the change of direction, or maybe The Devils Cartel is just a misguided reboot. The demo has only enforced my worries over the franchisee I enjoyed as a guilty pleasure, but perhaps the full release of The Devils Cartel will prove me wrong. At the end of the day demos are put out there to sell the game to people, to generate discussion over the game. It’s failed at selling the game to me, but it has got me at least talking about it.
Just for a reference point on the topic of the trailers: