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PlayStation Vita  header logo

Army Corps of Hell

For: PS Vita

Hell-d back

Product: Army Corps of Hell | Publisher: Square Enix | Format: PS Vita | Genre: Action, Strategy | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe
 
Army Corps of Hell PS Vita, thumbnail 1
Army Corps of Hell opens with a rather fetching series of static comic-like screens showing your King of Evil descend upon the lands of hell, enslave some poor goblins, and marshal an army to reclaim his throne.

Get used to seeing those images, because throughout the 40 levels you’ll be seeing the same (or parts of the same) few frames time and time again, with only the subtitles and the order changing.

It’s fitting, really, as the game itself also suffers from a severe case of repetitiveness, throwing out the same opposition and similar-looking levels at every turn.

There’s a fun game at its core, and one with a surprisingly solid tactical base, but you won't find yourself playing it for very long.

Let loose the goblins of war

The best way to describe Army Corps of Hell for the uninitiated is to take PS3 title Overlord and place it in a series of small arenas.

As with that game, you control a giant, evil master commanding a hundred gabbering goblins to do your bidding for you (as long as your bidding involves beating monsters up).

There are three different types of troops to command, each one selectable during a level by hitting the face buttons. Soldiers are the standard shock troops, capable of inflicting massive damage by leaping on foes; Spearmen are fired like missiles towards distant enemies; and Magi use their numbers to fire out magic at a number of foes at once.

The little fellas, by default, follow loosely behind you, meaning that one stray fireball from a monster can easily cut through your back-markers.

To stop this from happening, you have a ‘formation’ button (activated by hitting L) that causes them to bunch up and move at a specific speed depending on the unit type selected.

Because of this, each island that makes up a level is a kind of puzzle - trying to work out what the best unit is for a specific foe or to avoid said foe’s attacks.

A fine shade of red

Despite your goblins having the tendency to be a bit slow in following you, controls are tight and the game rockets along at quite some pace, the atmosphere helped by a heavy metal soundtrack that’s both very loud and very silly.

In fact, the presentation in general looks surprisingly good for a launch title. While individual creatures are of a fairly low polygon count, the sheer number of them dashing about, leaping on enemies, and trying to gain their composure having missed a spear charge is impressive, and the frame-rate rarely misses a beat.

This speed is partly down the general lack of environmental detail - each level may have a different colour scheme, but the islands are featureless affairs with little to separate one from another.

There are traps that appear in certain places, and the monsters that spawn do change from island to island, but it doesn’t take long before the stages start rolling into each other.

Hell-o again

The lack of variety isn't helped by the small monster roster, with most being simple to overcome and the game effectively running out of tricks well before the halfway point.

The giant bosses (with weak spots) do add much-needed jeopardy, but even these are too few in number. When the game has to start throwing two of the same boss at you by the quarter-mark, something’s gone wrong.

Still, the progression system does manage to tickle the RPG glands thanks to the way it relies on random drops to create more powerful equipment. Whether or not you’d want to go back and constantly bash up a particular boss for said items, however, is another question altogether.

It’s disappointing, as Army Corps of Hell can be an exciting tactical action game. Flying through a level with upgraded troops and executing the perfect formation switches and attacks is extremely satisfying, and these flashes of excitement hint at a game that, with a bit more time, could have been a much easier recommendation.

As it stands, Army Corps of Hell is likely to have a much shorter tour of duty on your Vita than its numbers suggest.
 
Army Corps of Hell
Reviewer photo
Will Wilson | 21 February 2012
At times, Army Corps of Hell is an adrenaline rush of swift tactical fighting. It’s also, however, incredibly repetitive and far too drawn out
 
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