Army of Two The Devil’s Cartel preview: On shooters and their relationship to fast food chains

Army of Two preview 1

In order to discuss Army of Two The Devil’s Cartel in great detail, we must first discuss Applebee’s. Bet you didn’t see that coming. Electronic Arts’ third-person shooting game, which lets two players don hockey masks painted like panda bears before murdering hundreds of Mexican drug traffickers together, shares more in common with the chain restaurant known for mediocre steaks than you might expect. Both serve piles of greasy empty calories that, given no other options, can satisfy a particular hunger. Think about it like this: If you’re driving through Nebraska, hungry but not dying, and you don’t know where a good restaurant is, an Applebee’s may look appealing. “Oh, it’s Applebee’s,” you think, “Whatever. I could eat a burger covered with cold onion rings.” Burgers are plentiful after all; Applebee’s burger just happens to be there. Games about shooting things are also plentiful, but if you happen to be in the proximity of Army of Two, you could do worse. Whatever. It’s right there. 

Mechanically speaking, a new demo of The Devil’s Cartel shown at EA’s recent event was virtually identical to the demo shown back in October. You play as one of two mercenaries wandering through Mexico fighting a drug lord and his minions using a seemingly bottomless pool of customizable guns. By shooting people in the game, you fill up a meter on the side of the screen, which can trigger Overkill mode, a slow motion mode that leaves you impervious, gives you unlimited ammunition, and lets you blow away large chunks of the environment. In this new demo, those blow-up-able objects were graves littering a cemetery.

Army of Two preview 2

The sample on display, which stretched across four five-minute chapters from the middle of the game, was failry challenging. As in most third-person shooters, you’re stuck in small arenas for the duration of a shootout; a gated section of the cemetery, a bisected row of mausoleums, etc. Each one gives a nominal change in the conditions with which you can take cover. It’s easy to get killed in these arenas because The Devil’s Cartel’s computer-controlled thugs are smart enough to take cover and flank you when you’re staying in one spot. Your own cover gets blasted away swiftly as well, so you have to stay on the move. 

One significant problem: The game isn’t particularly good at tracking where you want to take cover. A stone gazebo in the center of one section could be used as a sniping tower by one character if the other gave them a boost up. Once the fight starts, the gazebo makes for a good cover spot on the ground, but pressing the button to take cover more often than not triggered the same animation for boosting up your partner, leaving you open to a hail of gunfire. With the game out on Mar. 26, technical problems like this are likely to stay in the final product.

Army of Two preview 3

The second stretch of the demo was in some underground sewers, the mozzarella sticks of shooter settings. This stretch was somewhat confusing, not because of the architecture, but because of the dialogue. Merc Alpha continues to make fun of his partner Bravo for being afraid of graveyards and the dark. When coupled with the silly face masks—in addition to the panda, there’s also a Captain America-style mask and big smiley face that looks straight out of some high school stoner’s notebook margins—the light dialogue shows that this Army of Two has embraced the B-movie schlockiness that its predecessors stubbornly denied. It’s a half-hearted humor, though. It doesn’t commit to silliness, opting to be mostly quiet in order to get back to shooting stuff. 

Which is a shame—Were The Devil’s Cartel a parody, it might be on to something. As it is, it’s just junk food, a veritable bloomin’ onion in Electronic Arts’ spring line up. The exploding limbs shot off enemies are offensive, sure, but the play itself is functional enough. After this demo, would I intentionally go out, buy Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel, then spend time playing it? No. If I were in the mood to play a shooter and it just happened to be nearby, sure, I’d play it. Why not. It’s right there.

Gaming

Fortnite’s adorable pets are no longer hands-off, thanks to latest update

The latest update for Fortnite rights a heinous wrong. Pets were introduced in Season 6, but players were unable to pet them. Update v8.40 fixes that so players can now pet whatever adopted creature other players have on their back.
Gaming

Call up Durr Burger and grab some lunch with our Fortnite weekly challenge guide

The Fortnite week 8 challenges are now available in season 8. One of the big challenges this week has players dial the Durr Burger number on the big telephone. We've got everything you need to complete this weekly challenge.
Gaming

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Gaming

These Xbox One games will let you use your trusty mouse and keyboard

A select number of Xbox One games support mouse and keyboard control schemes, and more are being added in future updates. Here are all the Xbox One games that support mouse and keyboard.
Gaming

Has it really been 17 years? The past, present, and future of the Xbox

From DirectX Box to 720, it's been a long, strange trip for Microsoft's Xbox gaming console. Here is what happened, from its odd beginnings to the rumored Scarlett console with streaming.
Gaming

From the games to the hardware, here's what we know about the Sega Genesis Mini

The Sega Genesis Mini console was just announced, and it's set to release later this year. Here is everything we know about the console, including its hardware, as well as a list of included games.
Gaming

Cuphead is like a Saturday morning cartoon I never want to end

Revisiting Cuphead on Nintendo Switch is just as memorable as it was on Xbox One nearly two years ago. Cuphead's aesthetic has a magical quality that transports you back to the childhood joy of discovery.
Gaming

How to get into the Halo: Reach beta on Xbox One and PC

Halo: Reach is coming to The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One and the recently announced PC port. Ahead of its unknown launch date, Microsoft and 343 Industries will host a Halo: Reach beta for both Xbox One and PC users.
Gaming

How to sync and troubleshoot your PS4's DualShock 4 controllers

Sony's Bluetooth-enabled DualShock 4 controllers for PlayStation 4 are some of the best on the market, but connection issues aren't unheard of. Here's how to sync them to your console.
Gaming

Kick off your streaming career with our complete guide to Twitch broadcasting

Streaming games on Twitch for the first time can be daunting to say the least, but with a few simple steps, it's remarkably easy to do. Here's how to do so using a PC, Mac, Xbox One, or PlayStation 4 console.
Gaming

How to share your best gaming moments on the Xbox One and its app

The current generation of consoles makes it easier than ever to share your gaming highlights with the world. Here's a quick guide on how you can record a gameplay video on Xbox One.
Gaming

Make some room in your backlog. Here are all the games to look out for in 2019

2019 is already a huge year for video games, with a large number of series getting new installments, including some that have been dormant for years. Brand new franchises are also being created.