Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Devil's Cartel

"You didn't know because you didn't look!"
- Salem, Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel

Warning: Spoilers will be plentiful. You have been warned.

It's a huge gamble when writers decide to kill off main characters as a series of stories is being told. This obviously worked to great effect in the Star Wars films (and biopics, obviously), Game of Thrones and the Mass Effect series but not so much in Assassin's Creed (because I'm still bitter about that one). I'm guessing that it's often how characters die in comparison to the story's big picture that decides how the audience feels about their departure.

Sadly, The Devil's Cartel falls into the latter category. The game feels like a sad attempt at a gritty reboot - in an age where gritty reboots seem to be all the rage. Anyone who has played the two previous games (especially the second one - the seemingly biblical 40th Day) would know that Salem and Rios were built up to be inseparable - and it's inconceivable that one would betray the other (Salem, in this case) whatever happens in the story.

I've always liked games that seem like mindless insert-genre-heres at first glance, and I was hoping that this was the case in Devil's Cartel given the series' history. It's sad that the developers lost so much quality in terms of writing in favor of using the Frostbite 2 engine - which just proves the mantra of style-over-substance that seems to permeate many games these days. There is noticeably less witty banter between Alpha and Bravo and the moral choices have been cut and replaced with in-mission choices scattered across the first few levels.

In terms of actual gameplay though, this game delivers. As promised, players are treated to a nifty gun customisation system, along with the ability to customise masks and to select a ton of different outfits for Alpha and Bravo. Destruction of set pieces, courtesy of Frostbite 2, provides players with a ton of tactical options that range from the subtle and calculated to something you'd expect see in an all out war - blazing ruins and all that.

The Devil's Cartel is a small step back in the series, so here's hoping that the next one (if there will be a next one) would have less eye candy and more philosophical musings - or both, really.

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