PS Vita Review – Army Corps of Hell

Developed by Entersphere and published by RPG giant Square Enix, Army Corps of Hell brings players back to the days of Pikmin and the Gamecube, as you take your talents of command into the depths of the underworld. As enjoyable as a trip to hell might sound, is the game a trip worth taking? Read on to find out.

In Army Corps of Hell, you take control of the King of Hell, who has fallen from grace, been stripped of his power and is now a mere skeleton corpse. Said corpse is not without his power of persuasion as you will find plenty of simple-minded goblins who will fight any battle you send them to. Through your victories and corpse looting, your power as king and your army will start to gradually increase.  The game plays very close to 2008’s Overlord, except that your minions have less functions but you can control far more of them. Perhaps the biggest difference is the fact that in Army Corps of Hell your ‘overlord’ is not able to attack at all, and can only direct his followers. However, they share some close similarities with spawn points through the levels and the use of red orbs to restock your minion pool during the level.

Gameplay here in hell is rather simple but effective, as you hover around each level, sending your goblins after every demon that you face. Commanding your troops to do your bidding is done with the simple press of a button while facing your intended target. Your first goblin of choice is the soldier, who jumps on its prey, jabbing it with his sword. On the bigger enemies, a counter will appear above then and once you reach a certain number, you will be able to pull off a special attack with your soldiers.

As you progress in the game you will unlock Spearmen and Magi goblins to give you more options in battle. Spearmen will attack in a straight line, taking a jab at your opponent and then running back into formation. Magi’s can charge up their attack and hit enemies from long range. Through time you will be able to increase the number of units you can control at a given time, picking how many of each of the three you want to have. It’s unfortunate that you don’t have more options but the game does a great job of creating situations where you must think hard about which one to use.

There is a bit of customization in the game as you are able to upgrade your forces by looting your enemies and then using Alchemy to mix the ingredients and turn it into a new piece of armor or weapon. Each type of goblin can have their weapon and armor upgraded. You can also use alchemy to make items to use in battle, such as healing items and ones to increase your goblins attack power. Looting becomes a necessity in the game to upgrade your armies and while it is cool at first seeing your minions eat away at corpses, it quickly becomes annoying. At times you will try to attack an enemy but since a corpse is in your way, your minions will first go after that, causing a delay in your attack.

On the presentation side of things, there are some things to like about the game and a few things that could have seen a big improvement. From the very first menu of the game through all the fighting, players will be serenaded with heavy death metal, fitting of a game that takes place in hell. It is actually kind of refreshing to play a game with such a heavy soundtrack. The visuals are not the best that the Vita has to offer, but do a good job of selling the whole underworld to the player.

The biggest thing holding back this Army is the extreme repetitiveness of really everything in the game. Full of about three colors, the game never does anything to differentiate each level from the next. Each level breaks down into a bunch of small square islands that connect to each other by bridges that only appear after beating up every enemy on your block. Add in that battles start out fun and engaging but quickly run out of steam, as the strategy starts to wane. Soldiers for up-close, spearmen for distance, and magi for the rest. Fight, then repeat. Very rarely you will need to use an item which involves tapping or strumming the back touch screen, but for the most part you are mashing the R button to attack. The only break from this is the boss battles, which are fairly challenging as you progress, though it is disappointing to see bosses recycled through the levels.

Ad-hoc multiplayer is included with the game, allowing for up to four players to either work alongside each other or competitively, taking on the enemies as a group or stealing each others troops during battle. The online works well and does a good job of trying to break up the monotonousness nature of the game.

Army Corps of Hell is a game that starts you out with a bang from the very first menu, but starts to fade down the stretch. The bland environments, serious lack of depth in the enemy department, and the repetitive nature of the combat don’t do it any favors either. Online adds a slight change of pace but not enough to really make much of a difference and at $40, the price is a bit steep. However, even with all these negatives, the game presents some fast paced action and enough blood to make you sure of the fact you have stepped through the gates of hell.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+Fast paced action laced with death metal

+/-Engaging combat that wanes a bit with age

-Hell is far too repetitive for its own good

6.5 out of 10