EA revealed that their co-op shooter series Army of Two will be making a comeback. Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel will arrive in 2013 on the PS3 and Xbox 360.

In Devil's Cartel, mercenary duo Alpha and Bravo find themselves in the middle of a Mexican drug war. They soon find out that their assignment isn't as straightforward as it initially appeared. They'll have to rely on each other to make it out alive.

Cartel is billed as a "reset" for the series. The story's tone is more "mature" and "gritty" tone than previous installments. Alpha and Bravo appear to be brand-new characters, rather than new codenames for previous protagonists Salem and Rios. Development duties are being handled this time around by Dead Space studio Visceral Games, rather than EA Montreal. Furthmore the game will be using the Frostbite 2 engine from Battlefield 3, rather than Unreal Engine 3.

The basic Army of Two experience remains intact, though. Players will team up with a friend via online or split-screen co-op. They'll be able to customize their mask and weapons. EA says that the upgrade and customization will be deeper than it was in previous installments.

My impression from Army of Two: The 40th Day, the second game, was that the series was going through a bit of an identity crisis. Two-player co-op isn't as special as it was back when the first Army was released; you need more than that to sell a game these days. 40th Day threw a bunch of new features at the wall but none of them really stuck. The game was ultimately just a run-of-the-mill shooter, undistinguishable from any other third-person shooter.

Maybe there's no "big idea" that will make the series fresh again. Maybe it's just a matter of executing two-player co-op better than any other game can. With the developer that made Dead Space and the technology that powered Battlefield 3, Cartel might achieve that goal.


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