I’ve mentioned this before, but co-op is an easy way to sell me a game. Knowing this, I try to be discerning when presented a co-op experience. If a game is going to hook me with a mere word, then I should at least make it somewhat difficult to get pulled in.
While at the EA “Naughty or Nice” event in New York, I had a chance to sit down and try Visceral’s newest installment to the Army of Two series, The Devil’s Cartel. The new game, slated to hit stores on March 26th, gives up the competitive multiplayer to try its hand at a deeper cooperative experience. To accompany the gameplay change, Salem and Rios have also taken new roles as the heads of Tactical World Operations.
Taking the lead in Devil’s Cartel are Alpha and Bravo, two mercenaries that are far more business-oriented than our previous bro-hugging protagonists. Of the two, Alpha is much more refined, while Bravo lets his natural talent for gunpowder-propelled mayhem do all the talking. We didn’t get much time to delve deeper into the characters, but we did have plenty of time to see what they bring to the table, gameplay-wise.
Devil’s Cartel provides each player with a gauge that, when filled, can be used to activate Overkill mode. In overkill mode, the players’ surroundings are slowed down, while their bullets gain the ability to blast through walls, boxes, and most cover that enemies will end up using. (Don’t ask me how bullet properties change when a mode is activated, maybe they pull the trigger harder or something.) Yeah, it’s bullet time. I’m not going to go out of my way to portray it any other way.
The destructible cover and Overkill meter come in handy, as fellow DualShockers writer David Rodriguez utilized both to great effect while saving my ass a couple of times. (Look, there were these red barrels and I had just been revived, I don’t want to get into it…) The enemies are rather aggressive in Devil’s Cartel, giving you the feeling that if you’re not proactive, you won’t have much time before you’re gunned down.
If you are proactive, however, your options open up rather well. Flanking enemies, utilizing distractions or pincer tactics will grant you extra points that work toward filling your Overkill gauge much more quickly than picking off enemies one-by-one from deep cover. Good situational awareness and having your partner’s back manifest as a maelstrom of bullets and piles of cartel corpses.
If you’re looking for fine art, this isn’t the title for you. If you’re looking for inherent character/class diversity, you’re better off looking elsewhere. However, if you’re looking for over-the-top shooting action with some thoughtful cooperative elements, then Devil’s Cartel’s gameplay should keep you entertained. Army of Two has always been more of an economic success than a critical one, but Visceral never attempted to portray it as anything else. I had fun, for what it’s worth.