Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I Finished Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel

It took longer to finish Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel than it should have due to EA's decision to lock you into one save file for both co-op and single player games. Since I was hosting my game with my friend that I always play co-op titles with, I had to wait for his schedule to match mine so I could finish the last three missions of the game. It turned out to be a waste anyway, since there's apparently no achievement for finishing the game in co-op.

Before I get started tearing the game down, let me just say that I don't hate Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel, in fact, I had a good time playing it. I'm just disappointed by it.

My first issue is that the difficulty is a bit off, Hard Mode in co-op was still a walk in the park. The only real difficulty in the game is surviving long enough to get to your downed partner, if you can manage that, the two of you can just keep reviving each other over and over again. This can also lead to a few high intensity last minute rescues. It's been a staple of Army of Two and all co-op titles, I know, but the previous Army of Two titles were still tough on Hard, even with the revive, and this one isn't.

The AI doesn't really offer much outside of pinpoint accurate grenade throws and heavily armored "Brutes." The Brutes are supposed to be the toughest soldiers on the battlefield, but even they can be taken out with an upgraded SMG after their helmets get shot off. The deadly snipers can be easily killed by an assault rifle with an ACOG scope, while most of the standard AI soldiers can be dispatched with standard melee by simply charging them. Mind you, this was all on the Hard difficulty setting.

The mask customization was fun, I definitely enjoyed creating my own operative. For me, however, it made the signature masks kind of irrelevant. Although there are definitely some cool masks to purchase, nothing is going to interest me more than the mask I made myself. It would have been nice to be able to customize signature masks as well, so I could take one of the awesome masks, and just add some personalization to it. Still, I guess that's just me being a bit greedy. The tattoos and gear help round out the customization, and as much as I hate it, I'm going to do my best not to complain about the Skullcandy product placement in the customization options. It's how video games are going to be from now on, I guess.

I didn't follow the story at all. I don't know what happened, or over how many months or years. Everything started out normal, but then at some point Rios apparently lost a leg, and fuggin' Salem abandoned TWO and joined a Mexican drug cartel. This really really really upset me. I've played the last two games as Rios and Salem, the one thing I know about these two guys is that they have each others backs. You don't go through hell together for god knows how many years then just switch sides. It was a twist for the sake of a twist, but there was no build up or real reason behind it. They just wanted to have a moment to shock us, I wasn't shocked, I was confused and annoyed.

The ending Boss Battle is also a joke. The boss shows up in an armored SUV, and you're stuck behind some pillars. All you need to do is shoot the SUV until you build up double Overkill with your partner, then pop it and spam infinite grenades until the SUV is immobilized. Then run behind the SUV and plant C4. You just beat the game. The only difficulty here is that the developers pushed the checkpoint back to when you enter the area, not the start of the boss battle. Even then, it's more time-sink then difficulty.

Once the SUV is out, you get the final moments of Bravo's apparent Bipolar Disorder. Throughout the entire game, he's alternating between swearing to kill the bad guy, to telling other people not to kill the bad guy, to finally making his decision in the end. He also goes from being incredibly angry about losing someone close to him to cracking joke after joke, literal one-liners, in the very next mission. He just flip flops from one extreme emotion to the next. Bipolar Bravo.

Then there's the bugs, I frequently had difficulty getting into cover. I'd hit the A button, but instead of ducking down, I'd just stand there. This issue was magnified during segments where I had to push a truck and my partner was too close to where I was supposed to be, basically preventing me from entering cover. Graphical glitches were easy to pinpoint, so easy that I have to imagine the developers just said "to hell with it," and left them in the game to focus on bigger issues. If you play co-op, and the host enters the armory, the co-op partner's gear is going to disappear, and he will become a floating head until the chapter is restarted. If the host customizes his operative in the armory during co-op, his partner's operative will have the exact same gear as him during missions until the game is reloaded.

All in all, I didn't hate Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel, but I'll be damned if I loved it. It's a fun game to play with my friend that I've played every other Army of Two title with, but if I wasn't playing it with him, it would have sat on my shelf while I finished Bioshock Infinite. The game is buggier than it should be, and it feels rushed. The story is disjointed and hard to follow, with an ending that answers none of the questions raised by Salem's sudden departure. If you enjoyed the first two Army of Two games, well, I still hesitate to recommend this one. It's a fun game for a Fugg-Around Friday, but it's actually damaging to a franchise that was floundering to begin with.