Army Corps of Hell Review
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita console.
You are the King of Hell. Having returned to Hell many years after your defeat at the hands of the Almighty, you are weakened, stripped of your flesh and most of your magical might. All is not lost, however, as you will build a worthy army of goblins to help you take back each realm of Hell and restore your powers to their former glory!
Army Corps of Hell is a third-person action/adventure game reminiscent of Overlord, in that you use minions to destroy enemies as you descend into the depths of Hell and restore your rightful seat as its maniacal monarch. However, this new game from Square Enix doesn’t quite meet up with expectations considering how awesome the premise sounds.
In Army Corps of Hell, you rely on a variety of minions to do your bidding. Soldiers are your close-quarters combat monsters that have powerful attacks; Spearmen are ranged assailants; and Magi use magical powers to attack multiple enemies. During battle, you use the Square, Triangle, or Circle buttons to select which minion you wish to use, and then attack using the right shoulder button. Unfortunately, only one set of monsters can be used at a given time, leaving your other forces idle. Unlike similar-styled games where you can use all types of monsters at once, you wind up splitting your forces which can, in some instances, turn the tide of an assault against you very quickly.
Furthermore, targeting is haphazard. Depending on the monster unit selected, a type of targeting indicator will be displayed on your screen, and each one comes with its own unique problem. For the Soldiers, a wide arc is displayed that auto-targets the closest object to attack or consume. When an enemy is defeated, it leaves a corpse behind for you to send minions after to devour the flesh. Unfortunately, the auto-target feature will often prioritize the cadaver as a target, even when live enemies are coming at you, leaving you somewhat vulnerable as you fiddle around trying to get the indicator to center on the attackers instead. What’s even more problematic is that the monsters you inadvertently sent to devour the corpse will not return until they’ve eaten it completely.
For the Spearmen, a different issue appears altogether: their targeting indicator is a pair of bars that extend forward. When you send these monsters in to attack, it is down this path that you send them. However, you will often find that at a distance, a good chunk of those minions will miss and hurdle past the enemy, hitting the wall and getting knocked out for a short period of time. While amusing at first, this becomes frustrating very quickly, especially when minions wind up flinging themselves into an electrified fence and getting vaporized.
With the Magi, the charge-time of your spells becomes the most problematic of the three. During the time that you’re holding down the attack button waiting for a charge, you can’t use your other minions to attack a given target. It’s obvious that their role is meant to be a concomitant one, as they don’t seem to be able to devour the flesh of enemies either, forcing you to have multiple types of monsters, even though they can’t be used simultaneously.
Graphically the game is a mixed bag. The cutscenes, done in the form of graphical comics, are drawn absolutely beautifully and really bring out the mix of dull watercolors that give every scene an underworld feel. Unfortunately, it’s about five or six levels in that you realize they seem to be using the same panels over and over, making the game feel cheap. Furthermore, the in-game graphics, compared to other PS Vita launch titles, appear outdated, as though this title were originally developed for the PlayStation Portable and quickly ported over to meet the launch.
The levels themselves begin to look the same after a while as well. The backgrounds may change, but the vertical camera angle (which you can’t adjust) makes them hard to see. For the majority of the game, you’ll simply go from one square arena to another, killing enemies along the way and occasionally resurrecting your minions.
Army Corps of Hell also lacks the use of the Vita’s unique set of features, such as the touchpads or Six Axis. The only real use of Vita functions, aside from the right analog stick (to control the camera), is the mini-game you have to play to use items. In the lower-left corner of the screen, you’ll find an icon that varies with whatever item you have equipped. Tapping on that icon gives you a game that requires you to either tap on the back touchpad or strum it like a heavy metal guitar, among other things. However, there are no functions in the game’s combat system that actually leverage the Vita’s additional controls.
The game does have some redeeming qualities: the leveling system is short and sweet. Progress through ACoH’s many areas and you can unlock the ability to add more minions to your army or alchemic recipes for fashioning better weapons and armor for your monsters. You can create weapons, armor, and items to use by collecting items dropped from corpses. Then you simply go into the alchemy menu and pick what you want to make. Voila!
If you’re a heavy metal fan, the game’s soundtrack will surely be an enjoyable one for you – for a bit. I found the music to be highly entertaining initially, but even that begins to grate after hearing the same songs about a half a dozen times or so. Developer tip: When making an awesome soundtrack, use more than three songs. Fortunately, when the music does wear on you, you can substitute the in-game music for your own selections.
Army Corps of Hell has a great concept behind it, but it’s poorly executed. A repetitive soundtrack, shoe-horned Vita functions, poor camera support, sub-par graphics, indistinguishable levels, and a badly executed battle system make this one game that you might want to wait to hit the bargain bin if you’re really hell-bent on playing it. In the meantime, there’s already a big collection of games to choose from for the Vita, so consider grabbing something else.
Army Corps of Hell receives a 3.5/5.0
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