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Review

Arma II [PC]

August 21, 2009

Since the dawn of time man has had a desire to create the greatest game ever; it would look gorgeous, play realistically and man would feel fulfilled.

ArmA II isn’t it. A First Person Shooter for the PC, ArmA II is from Bohemia Interactive and has been quoted as being “Visually Impeccable” and that it is; a very very shiny game. However once you look through the glare of its shininess you realise it’s just brown underneath. It’s hard to believe that there were two more ArmA titles before this.


Prone seems to be the standard stance as standing up you’ll undoubtedly get shot by a stray bullet

“ULTIMATE MILITARY SIMULATOR” in bold letters across the top of the packaging, as well as countless buzz words like “Thrilling Realism” and “Authentic Simulation”, all of which suck you in to buying the game. The storyline is outlined on the back of the case; your deployed into the “former soviet country of Chernarus” giving you 225KM square of real-estate to shoot Russians in, if manage to not get hit yourself.

With Cutscenes and running character dialog throughout the storyline is worked into the gameplay, with you as the player deciding whether or not to proceed into situations or not.


The only way to get across the vast landscape is by helicopter

However don’t let the façade full you, gameplay for lack of a better word, sucks. The problem is it’s an Ultimate Military Simulator, not a standard First Person Shooter. The result of which can be summed up in a typical gameplay moment:

Playing a Sniper I climb the lighthouse to get a better few to snipe, I pick off a few Russians before a random bullet hits me in the arm. Now I can no longer aim properly because I’ve been shot in the arm, meaning I can no longer hit any enemies. I proceed to go prone and try to move around cover so I don’t lose my other arm, only to fall out of the lighthouse and onto the ground where I break both my legs. Now I can’t walk, I can’t aim. I’ve failed.

And moments that cause you to fail are throughout each stage. Many commentators on the game have stated how most of time you spend tracking one enemy for 20 minutes before you shoot him, and this seems to be the only real way to lay, cautiously. Understandable if it’s a Thriller/Horror game, you’d feel cautious. However this has the looks of a First Person Shooter, what happened to the adrenaline pumping action?


Not only do you have to push a button to climb over the fence, you must position yourself so that when you step over you actually go over the fence

Then there are the controls. It seems that as an Ultimate Military Simulator it feels that the player no doubt would need to have the ability to do absolutely anything within the game. Let’s consider what that means, in ArmA II there’s buttons for absolutely EVERYTHING. You are not only able to give combat statements but details almost to the degree that you could tell what he ate the day before. The difficulty comes when all these commands and controls are behind submenus, a result of having so many options and not enough buttons.


Commander commands from his command bunker

ArmA II like EA’s Battlefield Series, work in a hierarchy of soldiers are in squads commanded by squad leaders, these squad leaders are in turn commanded by a commander, who hides away in a bunker most of the time. Being a member of a squad is fairly easy, the leader gives commands, a lot of commands, and then if it relates to you it’s highlighted for you on the screen. Once you become a squad leader you realise that the only thing you do is give commands. It’s like your squad is a clutter of marionettes and you hold all the strings, in a bad way. Literally having to make them move becomes frustrating, especially when one person goes down and the closest member of your team doesn’t put two and two together to go and heal him.


Drag your fallen teammate behind cover before healing otherwise you’ll get hit by the same enemy that hit him

ArmA II does let you switch players though, meaning you can switch to the closest squad member to go and heal the fallen member yourself. You can drag him behind cover before healing him, and it works well; on paper. Evidently he’s been shot by a random enemy, waiting for you to come along to shoot you to, which he does. Suddenly you’ve failed again, because you can’t let any member of your team die, which is where the game becomes repetitive as you attempt the section time and time again.


Combat choppers, seem good on paper but in the air spend half their time upside-down

Drawing on the similarity between itself and Battlefield, ArmA II features a plethora of vehicles and aircraft. Of course they’re “Simulated Realistically” meaning they handle as they would in real life. Not bad while you’re still on the ground but once in the air it became synonymous with trying to fly the Chopper in GTA:IV with the PS3′s Six-Axis, it’ll turn your head upside-down as well as the chopper.

Finally navigation. The standard menus are unimpressive visually compared to the rest of the game. In-game there’s no minimap, you have a map of the whole area, a compass, and a watch. You actually have to navigate to find where you are. Which at night with nightvision on so you can’t see geographical markers is near impossible.


The environment is very detailed

Overall ArmA II definitely looks pretty swish, but peel back the layers and you’ll find a game frustrating that’s all but adrenaline-pumping, and by the time you’ve learnt all the controls you could of completed the entire series of Call of Duty.

To put things in perspective ArmA II is like a Grand Piano made out of diamonds; expensive and looks very very impressive, but impossible to play properly.

Storyline – 2/5 (Russians are done to death, and just going to war for the sake of it isn’t exciting as it would seem)
Gameplay – 1/5 (Controls suck. Commanding sucks. Navigating the terrain sucks.)
Performance – 3.5/5 (Visually very refined however unless you have a machine that can support it get ready for a bit of lag)