In my head, I am picturing the ideal version of Army of Two: Devil’s Cartel. Fist bumps explode into fireworks. Bodies jettison their limbs via explosions when shot. Self-aware dialogue is expelled more frequently than profanities. It could gaming’s Airplane!, a spoof on action gaming and the cliches it introduces.
I suppose there is a little bit of that in the finished product. It does have fireworks – a shoot-out amidst a “Day of the Dead” celebration is filled with them, all waiting to shot of by errant bullets. Bodies do lose limbs when shot, although sadly sans explosions. There exists a small level of self-awareness too, approaching the fourth wall without leaping over it.
Devil’s Cartel needed an attitude along the lines of Serious Sam. EA’s latest third-person shooter sets aside former leads Salem & Rios, newcomers the perfect chance to reinvent what the series could be. Instead, the game takes itself far too seriously, expecting emotional curveballs and shocking plot twists to have any function. This comes amongst the sheer audacity of the action that sees building collapsing, cars catching flames, red barrels blowing up in the middle of a cemetery (?), helicopters crashing, and more dead drug dealers than one can fathom. None of this makes sense, so why should the narrative?
Devil’s Cartel earns the “Two” in its title: This is two different games in one that never actually blend. Don’t take that the wrong way, with frantic action and hilarious “Overkill” powers that turn the player invincible while granting unlimited powers, Devil’s Cartel is mindless co-op enjoyment. Even some of the in-action dialogue pokes itself raw a bit. I just with it escalated everything with more irreverent energy, especially that story.