Army of Two is a franchise I have always been interested in since Gears of Wars got me into third person shooters.  I liked the thought of two people vs the world and the ability to have each others back.  When the first game came I was fresh with my Xbox and had no one to play with and did not want to start on the second game without playing the first.  However, since it seems that we are given two new characters to play as and a new storyline, I feel this demo was the perfect chance for me to hop in.

Come with me as I explore this demo and get the feel of what is like to play an Army of Two game.  Grabbing a friend for the co-op online and setting it to hard difficulty, I dive gun first into the fray to see what this demo is all about and if this will be a game worth waiting for!


[ Getting Started ]

When you go to the Xbox Live Marketplace in order to download the demo for "Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel", just know that the size of the file will be 1.64 GB, which is not unusual at all.

Opening the demo up once it is fully downloaded you will see the default ESRB rated "M" for "Mature" logo, followed by the EA (Electronic Arts) logo, and finally the Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel "Press Start" screen.  You are then taken to the Main Menu where various weapons are shown in the background, one after the other.  The Main Menu has the selections of  "Missions", "Armory", "Options", and "Quit Demo".

Clicking into "Missions" you are given the selections of "Solo", "Splitscreen", and "Xbox Live".  I choose the Xbox Live option and choose "Private Match" where I am then taken to a lobby.  After fooling around and customizing my weapons a little bit I invite my "Eternal Rival" Riot Trigger into the lobby to join me as Bravo (Since I am Alpha).  At his suggestion, I push the back button and change the difficulty to "Hard" from its default "Medium" setting.  I move down to "Start Game" to begin my our play through of "NARCO HELL/ 34. A Ray of Sun" where our objectives are "Get to the extraction point" and "Assist Choy and Baker".  This is where the game beings.


[ Menu & Modes ]

Weapon Loadout
Missions - Mode where you will play the demo mission in either "Solo" (Just you), "Splitscreen" (You and a friend in local Co-op sharing the same TV screen), or "Xbox Live" (You and a friend play cooperatively over Xbox Live).

Armory - Features two options, "Customize Operative" and "Weapon Loadout".  Customize Operative takes you to cinematic trailer that shows you that in Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel you are able to make your operative's mask the way that you want it to be.  Weapon Loadout gives you a chance to customize your Primary, Secondary, and Sidearm weapons from a bevy of different alternatives.  For your Primary and Secondary weapons you are able to choose from the Assault Rifle, Light Machine Gun, Shotgun, Submachine Gun, and Sniper Rifle categories.  For your Sidearm you have different handguns that will be available.  

A few like the M4 and M4A1 are unlocked for this demo while everything else is locked and must be purchased in-game once you have reached the desired level (Like the AK-47 once you reach Rank 2).  On these guns you can customize many things, like the Weapon Skin, Muzzle, Magazine, Under Mount, Stock, etc.  I am actually impressed about how unique you can make the gun look in order to suit your choice in color scheme.

Options - This features basic options like Controls (Which you are able to adjust things like the axis, sensitivity, etc), Audio (Volume, Effects, Speech, etc.), and Brightness (How light or dark you want the game to be).

Quit Demo - Exit the Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel demo and return to the dashboard.


[ Demo Walkthrough & Impressions ]


Alpha and Bravo infiltrate into an unfriendly environment in what looks to be an abandoned warehouse.  Upon moving into position and observing the Cartel's gang members, they soon witness two other Operatives get the drop on the Cartel members through the roof.  Quickly and with precision Baker and Choy make their entrance and check on Alpha and Bravo.  Tossing them their gear (Which suggests to me that they may have been taken hostage at some point), they let them know they need to get up to the roof for the helicopter.  At this point and time you exit the cinematic cutscene and are given control of your characters.

At this point and time you will head down the opposite flight of stairs that Choy and Baker just went down.  Coming to an area that requires an elevated approach, you and your team mate perform the "Step up" ability where one boosts the other up to the point and then that team mate helps pull the other one to that point (Returning the favor).  You will soon find yourself upon some Cartel members and you have the higher ground, you will decide whether or not you want to flank or approach directly through the middle.  Talking to Riot Trigger, we both throw grenades and I jump down into the fray with him not far behind.  Fighting through a narrow passage that opens to a wider area, we used pillars and the inside of rooms for cover as we killed all enemies in the area.  Moving on from this area we come to a point where we must again use the Step up mechanic to scale the wall.  Upon doing so I fall through the floor and am left to fight enemies down below while Riot Trigger gives me cover from the top floor.  Fighting through waves of enemies I find myself back up at the top floor but on the opposite side.  Killing the very last enemy I a switch which releases the wall into a bridge, allowing my team mate to safely cross to where I am as we continue to move forward into the next room.  

Keeping our heads down as we are instructed about helicopter fire from Choy and Baker, it proceeds to wipe out numerous enemies as we proclaim, "That's some serious firepower!".  Killing all the enemies we are instructed that we need to hurry up and get our area, us replying that we only got a little tied up and are on our way now.  Proceeding up some stairs we open the door where we are met with a heavily armored guy carrying a SAW with a shield attachment, along with two other enemies.  Going into "OVERKILL" mode when we realized we were over our heads, switching to my shotgun finished the job pretty quickly.  Proceeding through the hall we happen upon a door that carried a "Caution" sign that prompted us to breach, moving into position as we were instructed to "Stack up", we moved through the door.  Opening the door you are greeted with a slew of enemies but you are in slow motion, just like in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 when you breach, and doing so flawlessly and killing every enemy awards you with a "Perfect Breach" and 250 points; now we are on the roof and ready to proceed.

After this you are told you need to help some guys on the roof and your next objective becomes to clear it out.  One person steps up into the helicopter while the other stays on the ground (Preferably the guy who picked up the SAW+Shield).  While you are in the helicopter it is similar to the Chopper Gunner kill streak from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, including the little diamond shape that appears around enemies.  After a brief second of running while your team mate provides fire, the person on the ground will need to take out a guy with an RPG so he does not shoot down your support chopper.  In turn, after that is finished, the person in the heli must shoot down an antenna so you may cross to another roof top, but a rival helicopter shoots down your friends chopper in the process of you crossing.  Quickly running forward you grab your friend just before his helicopter falls off with him still in it; before you can pull him up though, the enemy helicopter comes back around with plans to kill you both.  Quickly you both use your free hands to grab your pistol, kill the helicopter pilot, and soon you pull your comrade-in-arms to safety.  However, the helicopter is now spiraling out of control, crashing back into the roof top, exploding, and sending its blade right at you two (And this is where the demo ends as they both say "SHIT!").  

As far as the Mission they gave you, I was quite impressed by it actually.  This mission showed very good team dynamics as far as the step-up and depending on your team mate for flanks, cover, and to get you out of situations that would be fatal if you would go alone.  I was also quite impressed by the destructible cover that comes via the Frost Bite 2 engine that was the very same in Battlefield 3.  Something else that caught me was the voice acting, I was happy that it was not corny in the least, nor did they overuse military lingo in order to seem more "legit".  

Also, it seems this series will focus on keeping the action high and keeping the enemies plenty.  Normally when I play a game there is not too much action to be had or it is spaced out terribly, this game seems to literally drown you in enemies and makes sure that you have a lot to shoot at.  More over, I wish I could say more but it was really impressive and I enjoyed it for what it was.


[ Controls, Combat, & Enemies ]

  

Controls - Light Trigger  for Aim/Zoom, Right Trigger for Fire, Left Bumper for activating Overkill, Right Bumper for Throwing Grenades, Back for Two Vision, Left Stick for Movement, Right Stick for Camera Control and Melee (Click), X is for Reloading, A is for Cover (Hold for Vaulting), B is for Crouching, Y is for Switching Weapons (Double tap for your Sidearm pistol, hold for Grenade Launcher), and the D-Pad is for A.I. Orders when playing Solo.

The controls actually works well, but because I am so used to playing the Gears of War series, I tried my hardest o play it like that initially (To no avail).  Once you master the movement it will become second nature, it actually has quite the ease of use and is very easy to get the hang of after a couple of beta turns.  Aiming is quite easy, switching from cover-to-cover (No matter if it is in front of you or adjacent).  

The only things I have had problem with so far are mechanics that require you to push and "Hold" the button (Such as the Step-up and sometimes crouching behind cover).  I chop this up mostly to me use to pushing for the Gears of War franchise rather than holding it like they want me to (Which I see as a problem since the extra second it takes to register the press as a hold could easily get me killed in a high pressure situation).

Combat - The combat in this game is actually pretty fluid and flows very, very smoothly.  The fact that cover is destructible means that no place is ever too safe.

Also, enemies often move so you will need to constantly have your partner provide cover fire while you move to better positions so you do not get killed.  The fact that if you sneak up you will slash their throat and stab them is more-than-enough of a satisfying kill to promote the times when you feel like getting a good Metal Gear Solid style kill instead of going Rambo.

Also, if you are coming up against heavily armored guys like the one we met at the top of the stairs after the helicopter room, Overkill is the way to go.  This is activated by pushing the Left Bumper and allows for you do have increased bullet damage and destructive ability for both you and your partner.  This livens up the game to all new degrees and gives you hope when you are about to be dead and absolutely must kill everyone as quickly as possible.

The emphasis on the team work on top of the points system will make this game very competitive once you get into leaderboards (Especially since it is 2-on-2).  As long as you have a good team mate who is willing to coordinate and watch over your back, I can see combat in this game being more fun than it has in years on some First Person franchises, especially with the destructive nature that is the Frost Bite 2 engine, well done.

Enemies - There is not much to say about enemies in this demo.  You are given the basic run-of-the-mill thugs without too much opposition, even in hard mode they do not pose much of a threat (That is only if you respect the "Cover or die" rule, as their bullets will wear you down quickly if you attempt to bullet sponge instead of avoiding fire).  However, the one armored guy with the SAW+Shield proved that at upper levels that waves with increasingly difficult enemies will pose a problem (He downed Riot Trigger and I had to go into Overkill mode with the shotgun to kill him).  So, I am glad that they showed us what we can expect in the retail game and gave us enemies weak enough to get a real kick out of the beta; nice job.


[ The Verdict ]

Bravo and Alpha


  YES! DOWNLOAD THIS DEMO!  

The impression this game left on me was a very positive one.  I was happy while playing it, especially with a team mate that could cover my back and be my wingman since that is exactly what this game is about.  Even when I chose to play Solo, the computer player was good enough that I would not actually worry if I had a human counterpart for a partner or not, it was just that fun.  I really feel like it takes gaming back to its roots and does everything for the sake of FUN, not realism.  Also, I love that this game is built specifically in order to incorporate Co-op in its genes without making it just a by product because it will help to sale games (I am looking at you shooter multiplayer campaign games..).

The only thing that would make me question about the actual purchase of this game is the replayabilty after it is beaten.  Am I going to be able to get all the achievements by myself without a human player?  Is it going to include some form of multiplayer so that way me and a friend can go up against others that believe they are an Army of Two (Only to be disappointed by us)?  Is there going to be worth while DLC that will dramatically extend the life of this game until the next iteration can come out?  Only time will tell, but for now, I am excited for this game and you should be too.

Thank you for reading my review for the demo of Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel.  Sayonara!