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Friday | December 9, 2016
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ArmA II (PC)

ArmA II (PC)

 

ArmA II by developer Bohemia Interactive is a followup to their own series of Operation Flashpoint games, which are now owned by Codemasters. It puts you in control of everything from hand held pistols to formidable, state of the art aircraft and is sure to appeal to gamers who like to duke it out on high octane dynamic battlefields.

The game takes place in Eastern Europe in Chernarus, a fictional developer created environment. The battlefields range across a plethora of farms, towns, forests and beaches inside a total area of around 225 square kilometers. – a seriously substantial world! The players take on the roles of the leader of a US Marine reconnaissance squad who have been sent in as the part of a large force to help mediate a civil war between Chernarus’s leaders as well as Russian communists and a number of urban guerilla factions.

For the first time in an Bohemia Interactive game there is a command system and it is well coded to give players a total feeling of control and interaction. You initially play with a small reconnaissance squad however it quickly branches out until you are coordinating your troops with larger forces inside the Marine army. This command system is littered with options and a surprising amount of flexibility however they are hidden under a plethora of menus which means the learning curve is high and it takes a considerable amount of time to get used to. Unfortunately even when I got totally used to the system getting access to the most commonly used commands such as stop or heal is laborious and rather painful.

Unfortunately there are a few game breaking bugs when you can complete an objective, only for the game to not recognize it and you fail – without doing anything wrong. This is extremely frustrating and many times I just wanted to kick the screen while swearing profusely.

The Artificial Intelligence is a strong point with the enemy able to adjust and adapt to your fighting styles and they make a compelling case for interaction, especially when your own troop AI seems to be haphazard at the best of times forcing you to be very proactive. The overall experience is well balanced, in that your own commands and actions do make an impact to the overall game flow, but you are certainly not an invincible ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger’ soldier able to run into an enemy stronghold and win the battle. Your strategy and how you manage your forces are certainly the primary focus of the developers. There are sometimes many strategies to achieve your objectives, some of which may well cause civilian casualties and much like real life a good commander will try to limit these as much as possible.

The array of weaponry and hardware in the game certainly meant I kept coming back for more, even with the frustrating bugs and as a soldier you have access to the full array of weapons such as grenades, shotguns and sniper rifles. You have access to many state of the art tanks and helicopters as well as long range laser designators to pick out targets on far away terrains.

Sadly the vehicle aspect of the game is poorly executed as the physics engine is a little shoddy with some vehicles not behaving in the way you would expect. Motorcycles in particular behave in a very unrealistic way, able to stop immediately after hitting an object but not carrying any run on speed. Additionally the driving AI is poor so you spend quite a bit of time driving all the vehicles around yourself.

As well as the main campaign missions you can also play the armory mode which is basically a free roaming section to get experience with the various weapons and hardware. You can take the vehicles for a test drive and enter into some mini challenges. On a rather unusual note, the developers have decided for some reason to let you take control of the wildlife, so if you fancy roaming the countryside in a chicken’s body then this will sate your rather twisted desires.

My personal favourite is the multiplayer warfare mode which works in the same vein as a traditional RTS game. Players can build installations such as barracks to buy vehicles to increase their chances and the environments are as big as the main campaign which means there is no shortage of terrain for strategic ideas. The online game is extremely enjoyable and well constructed so there is a good foundation for growth in this area especially with the third party modifications that are expanding as the weeks progress.

Graphically the game is fantastic with the Real Virtuality engine handling the duties and the level of detail as well as the animations are first class. When the terrain is zoomed up close there is a significant amount of detail on the foliage and environmental objects which needs to be seen to be appreciated. There are the full gamut of weather effects as well, from rain and stormy conditions to bright summery days. All this attention to detail however means that the hardware requirements are high and a quad core with a high end graphics card such as the 260 GTX or 4870 are needed to crank everything to the hilt at a decent resolution.

ArmA 2 is a daring venture into what is a complex and indepth combat style world. The array of hardware and weapons given to the player is stunning but it is hampered by some game crushing bugs and an ill programmed AI which ruins the overall immersiveness. The user interface could also have been simplified and improved and as it stands it takes a lot of time to get a handle on it. As such, as an overall package it is hard to recommend, but there is a lot of potential under the hood if several patches can be released to address the rather severe issues.

Gameplay
70

A lot of options on offer, but as an overall package the game needs work.
Graphics
92
Stunning engine and wonderful attention to detail in all areas.
Sound
70
Nothing to report apart from some poor voice acting.
Value
76
Single player game is complex and there are a lot of online opportunities, but be prepared for many frustrations.
Overall
70

Needs some serious adjustments to be viable long term.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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