One thing that a lot of modern shooters fail to do is to sell players the power of the weapons at the player’s disposal. Either they sound like cheap toys you could have purchased back in the 80’s, or they only seem effective against very specific things in the environment and the enemy.

The Frostbite 2 engine has powered the successful Battlefield 3, turning online war into a morevisceral experience as players tear through walls, warehouses, and office buildings. Its predecessor was the muscle behind Battlefield: Bad Company 2, where it was actually a legitimate tactic to drop buildings onto your enemies or the objectives they were trying to defend. Both games brought levels of destruction to the in-game environment that few other mainstream action games even try to deliver outside of neatly scripted events. You’re lucky to see a piece of sheet metal fall over, or a clearly flimsy wooden barrier fly apart. These days, the big thing about shooting virtual guns at virtual baddies is that games now model bullet penetration by assigning an object or a weapon a property that says “This caliber of weapon can shoot through this object, losing X amount of damage per shot.”

Having destructible environments helps change the nature of a battle as it progresses, but these days we’re generally pretty used to having “safe spots” in a game where we know we can sit back and regenerate our health, and if the occasional grenade lands near us we can just toss it back or move into a new position that places our invulnerable piece of real estate between us and the grenade.

In Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel, some of the greatest firefights are absolutely ruinous to the local environment. One of my favorite firefights in the game is actually quite early into the campaign. Mission 3 opens up with a shootout at a gas station. Predictably, every vehicle in the area can be turned into an improvised explosive device. The fuel pumps themselves can explode with such force that the front half of the gas station is blown wide open. Propane tanks and oil barrels litter the area, dangerous for you and the bad guys at the same time. A good amount of your cover can be blasted to dust any gun. You can find yourself scrambling from one piece of crumbling cover to the next, and better yet, you can force the enemy to do the same. This really makes the fighting feel as dangerous as it should; it reinforces just how dangerous a mounted machine gun is supposed to be, and why you don’t want to run head first into one when it’s got a bead on you.

It also reinforces the idea that the local farmer’s market fruit stand is the worst place ever to hide from bullets.

For complete Army of Two: The Devi's Cartel walkthroughs and strategies, get the official, complete Prima eGuide