Meat-headed, brass-necked and prone to unconscionable feats of bromance, Army of Two is one of this generation's guiltier pleasures. "Switch off your brain and you might just enjoy it," concluded our review of the original. "The gaming equivalent of an 80s action movie," declared our review of the sequel. Can Visceral, architect of the somewhat more intellectually involving Dead Space and Dante's Inferno, elevate the series into something you'd tell your Gran about between Scrabble and Radio 3?
Probably not. Playing Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel for the first time, it's clear that this is a subtler, less wantonly hammy breed of co-op shooter, but when the direction does kick up into the realm of outright carnage, the Overkill buzzphrase is amply justified. Matt spoke to lead designer Julien Lamoureaux for more.
This is the third Army of Two game, and you guys have jumped in as new developers. First of all, one of the major things you've changed, what happened to the fist bumping?
Yeah when we started to work on the game, we took a step back. We were on the Frostbite 2 engine, so we had to basically build the game from the ground up. As we were doing that we took a little moment to think about what we were trying to do, and one of those things was the co-op. Also, in terms of tone, we wanted to tell a story people could relate to and really wanted to know more about, so we decided on the Mexican drug cartel team.
We knew that was kind of a serious, sensitive subject, and we were not sure if the high fiving and air guitaring would fit in these conflicts. It wasn't really appropriate. We also wanted, not to go more serious, but to be a little more sophisticated. Instead of these cheesy humour moments, we're using sarcasm and over the top action bits in-between encounters. When you go on overkill it's crazy, it's still pretty visceral.
I do remember the second Army of Two got some criticism because you could put bling and diamonds on your guns. People felt it maybe went a bit too far in glamorising the violence.
Yeah that's fair enough. At the end of the day, we're a game, and we want to stay true to the stuff that we felt was really iconic. The two first games were really known for two guys with masks, big guns, customisation and pure fun, so we're bringing that back, we're not shy about it, but we're trying to pick our battles correctly and be clever. So maybe customisation with cool scopes, skins etc, that's acceptable and kind of cool - but we felt the fist bumping wasn't suitable.
Techland's Call of Juarez: The Cartel caused quite a lot of controversy in Mexico. Sensitivity to the subject matter must be a priority, in light of the backlash to that.
Yeah, for sure. We're trying to be as authentic as possible with our voice acting and locations. Even the story, it's just more mature. We're trying to be careful as we walk on the thin line. We want to provide all that crazy action blockbuster fun that people are used to, but Alpha and Bravo are going out to kill evil drug dealers. There are no killing civilians, your targets are bad guys.