Army Corps of Hell Review
Game: Army Corps of Hell
Publisher: Square Enix
Available on: PlayStation Vita Only
There have been some pretty impressive launch titles for the PlayStation Vita, but one of the games that has seemingly slipped under the radar is the Square Enix and Entersphere created Army Corps of Hell. Players will get the opportunity to play as the King of Hell, recently dethroned by being on the losing side of the battlefield, and you’re in the mood to get your throne back; but you’re going to have to get yourself a brand army before you’re going to have a chance to do anything like that. Collecting minions is the order of the day then, and that’s what most of the game is about.
It sounds fun on paper but with a launch lineup as impressive as Vita’s, is Army Corps of Hell the game that you should be getting with your brand new system?
STORY: The story isn’t the main aspect of Army Corps of Hell, instead it focuses on heavy metal music, gaining hordes of minions and killing; lots and lots of killing. That being said, there is a story built into the game, even if it isn’t a particularly good one. Basically you play as a newly dethroned King of Hell, defeated in battle and cast out, you plummeted to your new realm, you’ve been tripped of your flesh and all of the people that used to serve you loyally. The first part of the game gives the player the task of building up their small army in order to start taking over this strange area that you’re suddenly finding yourself.
The story is functional but only really serves as a link between the different stages, usually doing nothing more than giving the player a little bit of a clue as to what they’re going to be doing for the next five to ten minutes. A lot more could have been done with the story to make it more interesting but Entersphere seem to have settled for the bare minimum of the story being told to the player through cutscenes that are barely animated and not voice acted. It feels lazy and certainly not something that people would expect from a retail game that people are expected to pay full price for. A downloadable game maybe, a retail game, no.
GRAPHICS: When you start looking at other games that are available on the PlayStation Vita, games such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss and BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend, there’s a high probability that you’ll be expecting something special when it comes to Army Corps of Hell; unfortunately that’s not the case. All of the graphics that you’ll see in game are on the lower end of the graphical spectrum with a lot of the models – of both the main character and all of his minions – being rendered with low quality models. This is severely disappointing considering what we know the system to be capable of. A lot of people would expect more from a publisher like Square Enix, but unfortunately this isn’t the game that shows off what they are capable of.
The visuals that you’ll be able to see in the cutscenes are all still images with slight animations, usually in the form of small flashes of light that don’t take much effort at all in order to make move. The art style looks good and if it was in a comic book I’m sure a lot of people would like it, but that fact remains that this is a game and we’ve come to expect a level of visuals that simply isn’t apparent here.
SOUND: If you’re not a massive fan of heavy metal then you’re going to find the music one of the most annoying aspects of the game. When you’re playing as the newly dethroned King of Hell you’re going to expect the game to cater to the obvious stereotype of playing nothing but this style of music. I mean all heavy metal fans are Satan worshippers right?
On top of the singular music style (which is something that didn’t bother me, as a huge heavy metal fan, but will probably severely distract the majority of potential players) Army Corps of Hell has nothing in terms of voice acting. All of the cutscenes have subtitles in order to allow us puny humans to understand what the King of Hell and his minions are talking about in their demon tongue. This lack of any kind of voice acting is almost the singular reason why Army Corps of Hell feels more like a downloadable title rather than a retail release. It just feels plain lazy.
GAMEPLAY: Army Corps of Hell mainly involves the player, playing as the King of Hell, guiding their minions around the screen and sending them towards the various monsters that litter the stages. Once all of the demons are destroyed a doorway opens that leads out of the stage, this process is performed over and over again with only the types of enemies that you’ll come across in each stage being changed. Sometimes you may come across a particularly difficult enemy, one that will take a little bit longer to take down, these are the more interesting enemies that you’ll come across during your time in Army Corps of Hell. They take a little bit of planning to take down, a little bit of tactical skill from the player, which is more than the rest of the enemies take. Most of them just require the player to throw minions at the enemy until the ‘Press O’ prompt appears. The ‘O’ button is the “I Win” button. No tactics involved, just a lot of holding the right bumper button (to send the minions) then a lot of ‘O’ presses.
The main problem with Army Corps of Hell is the fact that each of the stages that you’re asked to play through in the game look exactly the same. The stages consists of smaller areas which are all the same floating square shape. Once you’ve killed all of the enemies on one floating square, a bridge opens up connecting to another floating square and you move across in order to rinse and repeat. The gameplay itself feels good at first but with this uninspired level design it soon starts to feel stale and repetitive, which is a shame because there could have really been something here if it wasn’t for this fact.
One of the better aspects of Army Corps of Hell is the ability to upgrade and equip your minions. When you destroy the enemies that are found in each of the levels they will drop a specific item. Some will drop meat, some will drop other parts of their anatomy and you, being King of Hell and all, have the unique ability of being able to create weapons and armour for your minions by using these objects with your talent for alchemy. This is one of the only reasons why people would go back and replay sections of the game as certain enemies will drop specific items. Upgrading to the best weapons – and therefore doing more damage – will need some of the more rare items which will only drop from the more difficult enemy types. If there was more reason to go back into these areas than just grinding for materials as if you’re playing an MMO, it may have been more enjoyable, as it stands though, collecting materials feels much more like a chore than actual gameplay.
LONGEVITY: Once you’ve played through all of the stages, there’s really no reason to go through them all again. While you’re playing through the levels you’ll be collecting items that you can use in the game’s crafting system, you’ll be able to upgrade all of your minions – and even yourself – and then go back to some of the levels that you didn’t perform so well on and clean up shop. That being said, there’s nothing really to entice players to replay those previous levels unless you’re the kind of player that gets quickly addicted to getting gold medals across all levels that you’ve played.
VERDICT: Army Corps of Hell is a game that should have appealed to a player like myself, a heavy metal fan who was a massive fan of both of the Overlord games, it’s a shame then that all the game did was make me want to put the game down and pray to the Gods of video gaming that we may one day get an Overlord game for the PlayStation Vita. The level design of Army Corps of Hell is poor, the music selection is good for a fan of metal but not good enough for a wider audience and the whole presentation makes it look more like a cheap downloadable game than a full retail release. A good idea but nowhere near good enough for the asking price, it feels extremely rushed from beginning to end and very disappointing.
By day I play video games, test video games or just simply write about them. By night I fight crime on the streets of London as a masked vigilante known only to a select few ... damn SECRET identity. Could never get the hang of that.
I've been writing about video games for about 10 years now, and playing them for even longer, starting off with a Spectrum ZX passed down to me in about 1988. Yes, I used to play games that came on cassettes. Yes, they were AWESOME!
I've been writing for God is a Geek since October 2010 and loving every minute of it, aside from that I write for my own website and work as a video game tester for Testology. So, yeah, I'm pretty much living the life of a gamer, and I don't intend stopping anytime soon thank you very much.
Unless I run out of money, then we might have a problem.