Army Corps of Hell Review

By Alex Rubens - Posted Feb 23, 2012

With a killer soundtrack and deep metal influences, Army Corps of Hell brings a barren action-strategy genre to the PlayStation Vita, but does so in a way that would make even the hellish of characters bored.

The Pros
  • Awesome soundtrack
  • Intriguing, if underdeveloped, premise
  • Metal influences abound!
The Cons
  • Everything about this game is repetitive
  • Should have stopped after the first four hours
  • Lackluster multiplayer options
  • Rear touchpad implementation feels like a gimmick

Army Corps of Hell Review:

Army Corps of Hell takes the best parts of Pikmin, Overlord, and Brutal Legend and cranks them up to eleven. Initially, the combat seems interesting and unique but the fun wanes once you realize that it’s the same stage over and over again for the last few hours.
 

 

Rise Demon Army! RISE!

As the King of Hell, players control a goblin army to fight through the stages of hell to reclaim the throne that was taken from him. While this sets the game up for an interesting premise, it doesn’t seem to be followed up on much outside of a few short comic panels flashed before the start of each level. This hellish theme sets Army Corps of Hell up for a perfect metal soundtrack that fits perfectly with summoning hordes of demons to battle, even if it does start to become a bit much after 15 or 20 minutes of the same song.

There are three different types of goblins to command – Soldiers, Spearmen, and Magi – each with their own set of abilities and specialties. Soldiers are brutes, great for direct combat and, with enough of them a “salvo attack” can be unleashed that dishes out a crippling blow. Spearman are mid-range attackers necessary to take down giant worm-like creatures, one of the game’s larger enemies, that escape from the ground. Magi, as the name implies, harness one of many elemental powers and are usually most effective in the later stages once enemies are shrouded with magical defenses that make normal attacks useless against them.

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Burning the Bone Bridges

At each new stage, players select how many goblins of each class to the fight with, balancing the benefits of each with the limitation each new level puts on army size. The problem is it’s impossible to know ahead of time what formation will work best. The only solution is to retool class numbers mid battle through randomly placed prison cells housing captured units. Armies grow in strength by acquiring materials, harvested from corpses, to craft new items and weapons through alchemy. In theory this sounds great, but actually collecting the raw materials necessary to actually build useful items takes so long that most of the stuff to build is outdated by the time you’ve collected everything.

Encounters take place on floating arena platforms connected by bridges (made of bones!) that appear once the platform has been cleared. Each platform has the same general layout; though some are filled with electric fences and fire pits in an attempt to bring a greater sense of challenge to the stage. This leads to more frustration than appreciation as units move slowly in a seemingly random fashion, often resulting in their death. This then brings the daunting challenge of trying to revive all of the downed goblins, by running over them, to continue attacking.

Army Corps of Hell

Unsurprisingly the Vita’s dual analog sticks play perfectly to this genre, resulting in a crowd-control strategy game that actually controls quite well. Health restoration and certain items are activated by tapping on the back touchpad in a rhythmic fashion, which starts off neat, but as after a few minutes turns into nothing more than a cheap gimmick.

Boss battles are tough and stand out as unique and challenging battles that require more strategy and timing than the average conflict, often requiring all three classes of goblins to be put to good use. They all seem to follow the traditional boss battle formula, but varying boss attacks and strategies manage to make them all seem a bit different.

Army Corps of Hell

Groundhog Day

The standout issue with Army Corps of Hell is that while the gameplay is initially fun, a daunting gameplay flaw quickly becomes clear: it’s the same thing every time. Combat scenarios might change, some of the spells and weapons are different, but it’s the same battle, the same combat, and with such minor variation that every level makes me feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

With a killer soundtrack and deep metal influences, Army Corps of Hell brings a barren action-strategy genre to the Playstation Vita, but does so in a way that would make even the hellish of characters bored. Sadly the repetitive nature and lack of new gameplay after the first few hours keeps it from being one of the better Playstation Vita launch titles. It would almost have been better suited if it was a few hours shorter and distributed through Playstation Network at a discounted price.

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