Army of Two games aren’t known for their incredible attention to detail, high end graphics, or brain exploding plot and character development. But they are fun, particularly with a co-op partner, in my case, Carl.
We have played through the campaign on medium difficulty, opting for a quicker play through with minimal frustration like we have experienced in the previous games. The familiar Army of Two details are there; character customization both aesthetics and with your choice of weaponry. One odd thing though… When first loading up the game you have an option of installing “high definition textures”, at the cost of 1.5GB of hard drive space. I have never seen this on an Xbox 360 game, but I did this without much thought, so did Carl.
First things first, it’s fun, assuming you have a co-op partner, if you don’t, go get one. If you’ve played an AoT game before…well, it’s exactly the same on this one. Third person view, cross-hairs, HUD which displays ammo/grenades, all your standard shooter info. I do like that the middle of the screen HUD information is not always there, it fades in/out depending on what you’re doing, say when you are mowing down baddies, it’s up to indicate your progress towards another overdrive. If you’re just looking around, it fades out so you can look around unperturbed.
Overdrive is very fun. When you fill the overdrive meter and activate it all hell breaks loose. You are invulnerable while in overdrive, have unlimited ammo, and unlimited grenades. You can blast through most objects enemies hide behind to completely obliterate them. You get more in game cash the more overdrive kills you have during a particular mission, so use it whenever it is up and there’s a good number of enemies on screen. Carl and I also found overdrive handy when one of us gets taken down and needs a revive. Doing a revive in overdrive is handy. You move fast, take no damage, and the loading circle to revive is nearly instant. I had the most fun using overdrive with a semi-auto shotgun with dragon’s breath rounds equipped and I highly recommend it.
A big part is customizing and buying new weapons and playing around with different load outs. Who doesn’t love that? You start with your standard M4 rifle, a shotgun, and an M9 pistol…and $5,000 in game cash if you want to add one or two things before you even get going. Money comes in fairly quick, and you can customize or buy new weapons after just a few missions. You do need to rank up by earning more money in missions and contracts to unlock higher end weaponry and customization. The flow of money, ranks and item unlocking seems to be in line. I wish there were more weapons to choose from, 5 or so of each class is decent, but you can only have three with you at a time, and have to take a break from the game to change things out. You can pick up enemy weapons but they aren’t as pimped out as your own customization.
A major distraction from gameplay (to me) is the lack of variety of enemies you encounter. There is a lot of model copying going on here. You might have 2 or three baddies running at you all wearing the same outfits, same head, everything except maybe weapons is identical. This does get a little bit better about half way through the campaign. As well as some variety, you will encounter some tougher enemies called brutes. They are well armed, take a lot of hits, and can put out a lot of damage.
Pretty decent…but remember that texture pack install? During some cut scenes and even in game I finally realized things should look pretty spiffy. Well I am not impressed. Some areas are slightly fuzzy and rigid looking. In all fairness, I did not play the game before installing the pack, so maybe it looks worse without it. However; I have experienced a lot of graphical issues while playing through. Generally the game loads up fine, no issues at all. It seems that once we take a break from the story to go to the armory, then I get the problems. The main one being upon reloading into the next mission. Basically what happens is our character models become only the neck and head, and gun models rendered…everything else is invisible. Actually I found it funny at first because it persisted through the cut scenes, and made some of them pretty funny.
During actual gameplay however it could be very frustrating. If Carl’s player went down and I had to find his body amidst the explosions, baddies, and everything else it could be difficult, all I could see was a head and a gun! We figured out that if we just reloaded a check-point just after coming back in from the armory, it would generally fix the problem on my end. One more issue was when loading into a level I would get a solid black screen. I could not be sure if it was actually loading or freezing up or what. This was fixed by hitting the “X” on the controller to go to the home screen. Clicking that then coming right back to game would pop up the loading screen and we could proceed.
So all in all, the game looks decent enough. The few issues I experienced aren’t game breaking or anything, just annoying. I wonder if it is because I have one of the very early Xbox’s.
Story and Dialog:
I won’t give anything away here, but it’s kind of your standard, “there’s a bad guy doing bad things lets stop him” plot starting with an ambush on a high up official in Mexico. You play two new soldiers to the TWO Army, and see some familiar faces. Maybe more on this as we progress through the game. The general dialog is pretty lacking as far as writing goes, but it does the job. I just want to shoot, stab and blow up enemies anyway!
My overall impression is that Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel is still a fun game to play with a co-op partner. Carl and I have played through the previous games together in co-op and like to finish out a series when we can. And for $20.00 (on sale) it is hard to beat what I am sure will be several hours of entertainment. I would recommend it if you’ve got a buddy to play with, like customizing weapons and characters, and want a break from your everyday grind. The campaign was a bit shorter than I’d like, but there is good replay value here as well. We unlocked “insane” difficulty but have not tried it yet. We also did not unlock every weapon and customization there is, so to really finish the game, there’s a bit more work to do.