Army Corps of Hell is an action-strategy video game developed by Entersphere and released Square Enix as one of the PS Vita’s launch titles. In many ways it’s similar to that old Nintendo classic Pikmin though it’s an entirely unrelated venture.
I’m torn when it comes to Army Corps of Hell. Let’s be blunt, it is not a great game, not even a good game, It’s graphics could have belonged on a PSP launch title and on the Vita, one of the most powerful handheld devices in the world, that is not acceptable. It also has no story to speak of; I mean it does have one just not one you will care about. You’re a typical demonic villain who feels everyone and everything should belong t him and so you set out to conquer Hell under your rule. It’s occasionally cute and occasionally has some comedic value but it’s not prize winning writing. That leaves us with just gameplay to save this title and it’s where I start to become torn.
As the self proclaimed King of Hell you will control an army of goblins to fight through the various level of Hell so that you may claim your throne. Like I said while this may sound like an interesting premise outside of a few short comedic panels between some levels it’s not really followed up much.
Even here Army Corps of Hell is not without flaws though. Gameplay starts out great, its different, somewhat challenging and it feels rewarding when you gather materials from your defeated foes to craft stronger armour and weapons for your insatiable horde .Your insatiable Horde is made up of three types of goblins –Soldiers, Spearmen and Magi- each having its own set of abilities, specialities and vulnerabilities. Soldiers for example deal the most damage and can even perform special attacks in large groups but they need to get up and close and personal. Spearmen don’t do as much damage as the soldiers but they can charge away from you to deal some serious damage from afar, still like soldiers they must actually engage the enemy in melee and often that is not a desirable outcome in Army Corps. Lastly you have the Magi which are the one unit type that can attack from range, they take their time in firing their spells though and their damage is middling, meaning they are best used to handle large swarms, flying creatures and enemies wreathed in flames. Learning how to use my Horde, learning the timing I needed to execute attacks safely and knowing when to use what unit made the first twenty levels of Army Corps fun indeed. Over time however you begin to notice something, you start to realize that you’re fighting the same enemies, with the same strategies in the same featureless arenas set to the same music over and over again. Worse still Army Corps is a game that not only encourages but demands grinding past levels in order to beat later levels! It’s an already repetitious game but the game designers want you to play it at least twice! What was originally enjoyable becomes a gruelling trial in its repetition.
Army Corps can’t escape comparisons to Pikmin and sadly the comparison only highlights the game’s flaws. Unlike with Pikmin there is no exploration or puzzle solving to keep the game fresh and interesting, it is pikmin as a pure action game, and that could have worked but only if the developers had made the action more varied and robust.
Some of the coolest moments in the gameplay result from the bosses that you’ll face at the end of many stages throughout the campaign. You’ll take on a variety of tough bosses, including giant dragons, horned demon beasts, and hydra-like worm monsters. The bosses are huge and make up some of the game’s more exciting battles.
The Boss fights are fantastic but otherwise the gameplay gets very repetitive and the game’s endless grinding can become tedious.
The game’s interesting Jpop and metal soundtracks are in fact a treat to listen too
The story has an interesting premise and its presentation is handled well and humorously but sadly the story has no meat.
The environments and characters are bright and colourful but these graphics seem like they could have been on the PSP.
Lasting Appeal: 7.5
There is easily over thirty hours if not more game time available in Army Corps, it will be up to the individual player’s preference if they care to keep playing it for that long
Price point: R200
Try getting this game second hand or from a PS store special, at that price point many of its flaws can be overlooked
Army Corps of Hell is a fairly unique game that had a promising premise and delivers intense boss fights and some great sounds. Sadly the game is brought low by its repetitive nature and its developers failing to develop the game as much as they could have.