In the past, the Army of Two games have done a pretty good job portraying a different kind of action/shooter experience, focusing more on the "bro" partnership between the two main masked gunners as they made moral decisions and shot their way through a number of chaotic situations. The first game was rather well received, as was the sequel, The 40th Day, though they weren't as hot selling as other Electronic Arts military shooter properties. Still, the publisher felt like the series was worth giving another go, though there are some changes this time around – and they could very well be for the better.
For Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel, EA Montreal has moved aside from development duties in favor of Visceral Games, the studio known for its Dead Space trilogy and Dante's Inferno. Their touch definitely seems to live up to the "visceral" name, as the action we saw in the most recent trailer for the game doesn't come up short on explosions, gunfire and general chaos.
Another huge change in the series' development is that the main two heroes from the story, Tyson Rios and Elliot Salem, won't be making a return this time around. (Sadly, that means voice actor Nolan North is also out of the mix.) For The Devil's Cartel, the story focuses on two new soldiers, Alpha and Bravo, as they fight their way through the war-torn streets of Mexico. Some long-time fans may not be prepared for the shift in new blood, but Visceral is assuring that it's a move for the better.
This time around, rather than tackling an underground conspiracy or trouble surrounding their own government, the T.W.O. (Tactical Worldwide Operations) soldiers are taking on a mighty drug cartel, known as La Guadana (Spanish for "The Scythe"). This cartel has been making a lot of trouble for a lot of people, and rather and try to find a way to bust them and send them to jail, they feel that Alpha and Bravo would be a more effective solution to the problem, killing everything in sight. However, this group is well armed, and not ready to go down without a fight.
There's yet another change coming with the latest Army of Two game, and that's with the development engine. Rather than utilizing Unreal Engine 3 technology (as the first two games did), Visceral is using Frostbite 2, which has powered Battlefield 3 and Medal of Honor: Warfighter before it. This means a lot better detail when it comes to blowing stuff up, as you can see in the trailer. Bridges collapse with ease, buildings collapse into a huge pile of rubble, and even the smallest of debris explodes around everyone, especially those ducking behind objects that can be ripped apart by bullets.
Alpha and Bravo aren't in the fight by themselves, though. It appears that two more fighters will be able to join in on the hunt for the Devil's Cartel, including an unnamed woman who knows how to make proper use of the firepower within the game. There was confirmation of the game's four player co-op mode, where players would be able to work together to eliminate targets and move forward in the storyline, so it's likely these two characters – though not as well-armored as the T.W.O. agents – can still make a dent in their own right.
As for gameplay, if you remember how crazy the first two Army of Two games got, you'll pretty much gather a similar feeling with The Devil's Cartel. The action appears to be non-stop, whether you're riding atop a truck and mowing down targets with a stationary turret gun, or working together to take down groups of enemies, both smaller gunners and larger, slow-moving mercenaries.
No word yet if the game will use the same team-up tactics of previous games, where you can circle around madly and shoot everyone from a single point on the game map, or whether moral decisions will play a part, as they did in The 40th Day. But with Visceral Games at the helm, you're in for a good time regardless. The fact they can pump out something like this while wrapping up work on next month's release of Dead Space 3 is a real achievement.
In the firepower department you can expect a lot of it in Devil's Cartel. An arsenal of effective weaponry will be within reach through the shop (like previous games), and you'll probably be able to add more via DLC in the months ahead – so keep an eye out for that good rocket launcher. New characters will also be thrown into the mix, including rappers B.o.B. and Big Boi, who provide the game's main theme song, "Double or Nothing".
Though some details are still missing from The Devil's Cartel, we're excited to see what fresh blood is being pumped into it, especially with Visceral at the helm. We'll see how it fares when it ships for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on March 26th. Grab some friends.