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Army of Two dev talks real-world settings: Mexican drug wars are fine, but the Middle East isn't

Visceral on mixing humour and violence: "It's more about right place, right time"

Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel sees a pair of heavily armed Americans travelling to Mexico to blow all kinds of hell out of local drugs gangs. This kind of thing has happened before in videogames in recent memory - Ubisoft and Techland's Call of Juarez: The Cartel sent a trio of US enforcers across the border in search of terrorists, cue wisecracks and many a Frontier-style shoot-out.

The Cartel didn't do so well out of the idea, however - it was savaged by the Mexican State Congress for allegedly "normalising" gang violence that claimed the lives of over 6000 people in one town across 2010. Will Visceral's own stab at the idea fall foul of similar controversy? Or has the Dead Space team managed to re-enact real-world bloodshed sensitively, in the context of a game that harkens back to B-movies of the Schwarzenegger school? We spoke to producer Zach Mumbach for more.

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According to Mumbach, the lead characters' stylised hockey masks immediately suggest that the carnage is not to be taken seriously. "I think with the masks, the shift in tone is there," he said. However, Visceral's writers have had to be careful when it comes to the franchise's trademark popcorn-crunching banter. "It's more about right place, right time. They still joke and there's still levity, and they have these light-hearted moments where they share jokes - we're just not doing that in the middle of them fighting for their lives.

"And that's what we sort of had in the previous Armys," Mumbach conceded. "And we did take some criticism for that. Obviously it was a bit much - the fist bumping and the air guitar right in the middle of a deadly fight. It was sort of a sticking point for some fans, and definitely in media as well.

"So we're going to have the light-heartedness - it's just that when me and you are playing the game we're fighting for our lives, and I'm not going to be cracking jokes or coming up behind you and slapping you on the butt or anything like that."

So why is Army of Two following Call of Juarez into Mexico? Is the thought of participating in a drug war really a premise people can relate to? "Well, I think it's real, it's in the news, it's something that's current. The last game was set in a fictional timeline - it was current but it wasn't based on reality.

"And one of the things fans want, and again we focus test a lot - it's clear they want something that's based, if you're going to do a current timing, on a real world thing." One real world setting apparently isn't another, however. "We're certainly not going to take these guys over to the Middle East," Mumbach declared. "It's just not the right setting for an Army game."

I had a chance to try out Army of Two at a recent EA event. Watch out for hands-on thoughts in the next week or so. Here's a bizarre trailer to watch while you ponder the above...

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