When I first saw footage of Army Corps of Hell for the Playstation Vita, I immediately caught a feeling of an Overlord influence. Truth be told, that was a good vibe to have, but a game that lives under the influence of another doesn't have much of a future in the gaming industry. A new IP needs flair and intrigue, and it may take more than the control of a plethora of minions to bring this new Square-Enix IP into the spotlight.
Now that the intro is out of the way, the hard part presents itself: what's interesting about Army Corps of Hell? Unfortunately, not too much. The story consists of the Lord of the Underworld losing his rank and mind-controlling goblins to help him regain his old power and status. Cut scenes between missions consist solely of the dark lord demeaning his droves of demon fodder and the goblins talking about either alchemy upgrades or being afraid of their master.
The alchemy system takes a few notes from any game that mimics Monster Hunter by collecting demon parts during missions, creating weapons and armor, and distributing it amongst the low-life goblins. After being unenthused by the game's lack of story, I found this system briefly intriguing and driving. Unfortunately, like most of this game, the intrigue lasted three missions.
You gain control of three different goblin class: a mage, a spearman, and a soldier. All three have expected functionality, and all three have cooperative abilities where the goblins in the activated class bombard enemies in an organized and impacting way. Though the ways to use these abilities diversifies, it's hard to justify the game after doing all of these things over and over. And over.
Visually speaking, this game is decent, only because it allows for a lot of things to interact on-screen in a gorey fashion. But each mission is preceded with a close-up of the dark lord and his goblin minions in a low-textured pose. Luckily, the entire game is played far behind the dark lord, so the lower texture count is easily forgotten in the heat of bloody battle. The sounds are a bit gnarly, since most of it is of goblins tearing apart demons, or vice versa, but the soundtrack is appropriate for a game such as this. Screamer songs meld together well with the robust onslaught and the drawn cutscenes definitely depict the metallic ambiance that Square-Enix wished to have. With this in mind, the beginnings of the game felt very appealing, even with the shallow gameplay, which was rather disappointing as the game progressed.
This game is meant for completionists. Each level has a rating system that goes towards an overall scoring, and parts can be farmed for new gear and weapons. Playing with a friend in the game’s co-op mode definitely alleviates some of the issues, albeit only marginally. One thing I would have liked to see in this game is the ability to combine actions between each goblin class to make more powerful and unique combat. But, every class is separate in execution and that can't be diversified.
Army Corps of Hell goes through 30 levels of nonchalant gameplay that's only heightened by boss battles, which really wouldn't look good in many other games. All of the bosses have target points, and goblins are thrown at them to weaken and exploit each boss's soft spot. Unfortunately, none of them were overwhelming or even challenging. They were simply okay, but they looked much more interesting being surrounded by other dull and repetitive experiences.
It's hard to say what Square-Enix wanted to really do with Army Corps of Hell. It's easy to make a game that feels like Monster Hunter, but it's nearly impossible to make a game as good. After playing Army Corps of Hell for much longer than I should have, I know that SE could have definitely put a little more time into this game to make it a contender in PlayStation Vita’s massive launch line-up.
-The Final Word-
Army Corps of Hell may want to go back from whence it came.