Put together by a new Visceral Games team, Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel threatens to best anything that the third person cover-based shooter series has done before, thanks to the stonking great gas tankerful of power provided by Battlefield 3's Frostbite 2 engine. Before you move your beer fridge to within arm's reach of your sofa, however, let's take stock.
You and your co-op companion take control of Alpha and Bravo, the former a military veteran, the latter an army drop-out with a talent for slaughter. This time out you'll shoot through Mexico, with Frostbite 2 capable of pumping out both sun-bleached plaster walls being decimated by combined gunfire and post-gunfight dust motes settling through heat haze.
In our early level playthrough, we quickly encounter the gameplay effects that the destructible world bestows upon AoT:TDC, as our hastily chosen wooden banister is chundered to splinters. As we tear through an apartment building lobby we notice a bar filling at the top of our screen. This aptly-dubbed Overkill meter slowly fills whenever you work together with your partner.
Help your pal to escape from under heavy fire, actively flank your foe, or simply both communicate and take aim at the same enemy and the meter will fill with Overkill juice, nicely incentivising teamwork and co-operation. Once full, unleashing Overkill empowers you with über destructive bulletry, capable of smashing walls to debris and crunching through cartel members limbs in a cacophony of concentrated destruction.
At one point a simple step lift over a precariously placed wooden obstacle ends up with our two mercs on different floors of the lobby. With each player's line of sight being different, there's a heavy reliance on communication.
The playthrough culminates in a colossal set-piece wherein one player takes out rocket launcher toting gentry on a rooftop, while the other blasts a radio tower with a helicopter. A few explosions later and we're dangling precariously off the edge of the roof, in an action set piece that wouldn't look out of place in a Bad Boys 3 movie (if they ever make one).
Our playthrough is peppered with the developers indicating how they'd like to increase the difficulty a touch and to introduce even more moments of explosive tactical thinking. We reckon the controls will also need oiling, as they felt slightly rigid. That said, we've already loaded up on snacks and beverages ahead of an all night high-five marathon.