Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Army Corps of Hell

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In modern times, Square Enix Ltd. is known as an strong supporter of PlayStation consoles, having previously blessed the PlayStation2 and PlayStation Portable (PSP) with launch window titles and significant support from there on. Here with the PlayStation Vita (PS Vita), Army Corps of Hell provides that first initiative, but whether it will be supported further down the line remains to be seen. If more experiences of a similar calibre are provided however, you can be assured that PS Vita gamers won’t be disappointed.

Army Corps of Hell is essentially a light weight interpretation of Nintendo’s GameCube classic Pikmin; an arena based Overlord which doesn’t get bogged down in an adventure. The player takes direct control of the King of Hell, fallen from grace and establishing an army of the only creatures remaining loyal, the universally ugly goblin hordes. Using the left analogue stick to control the movement of their on-screen avatar and the right for the camera, the player commands their army in one of two ways: formation and assault. Pressing the left should button calls your army into formation (allowing for swifter, more precise attacks but restricting movement) while the right issues the attack command for the targeted/highlighted enemy. It’s a very simple system, but one that allows Square Enix to mix-up the formula with different goblin types while minimising the chances of confusion.

Three are three types of goblin included in Army Corps of Hell, the standard soldiers, the long range spearmen and the magi. Only one type can be commanded at any one time, with each assigned their own face button for easy switching. Of course, each of the enemies you face will be tactically linked to a certain type of goblin, making bringing them down easier should you have the appropriate amount on your team. Should players loose their goblins they can be recalled from special outposts mid-level – a near-essential design decision during boss fights.

The many levels featured in Army Corps of Hell are divided into a number of sequential platforms. The player must defeat every enemy on a platform before being granted to the next. It could be suggested that its small stage presentation is designed to suite the nature of the device upon which it is played, but with the PS Vita’s instant pause function that’s not always going to be the case, and with Army Corps of Hell, some longer battles would surely have been welcomed.

The videogame offers additional rewards by way of its ‘alchemy’ system. Effectively an overly complex interpretation of unlocking new items, players can upgrade the weapons and armour of their goblin troops as well as their own equipment, so long as they gather the right ingredients from fallen enemies on the battlefield. There’s also an encyclopaedia of enemies and items that keeps a tally of kills and current inventory stock.

The visual quality is arguably Army Corps of Hell’s weakest point. While nothing is strikingly bad, the whole presentation of the videogame is clearly lacking, with the hallmarks of a product rushed for release. The still images relaying the story between gameplay sequences have more character than the in-game visuals, though they in themselves are also limited with a lack of direct translation, opting for pasted subtitles as opposed to redrawing the text within the stills.

As a launch title for the PS Vita, Army Corps of Hell is certainly a welcome addition to the line-up. It’s a tactical action videogame unlike anything else available for the console, and an entertaining one at that. Army Corps of Hell isn’t a groundbreaking piece of work, in fact in many ways it’s little more than average, but as every piece of it’s puzzle comes together it remains an enjoyable videogame experience despite its flaws. It may not live up to the dizzying success of the likes of MotorStorm RC or BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend, but Army Corps of Hell remains a worthwhile title in its own right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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