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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Got Game Entertainment

 

Developer

Bohemia Interactive

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

July 7, 2009

 

 

- Exhaustive visual and physics details

- Dynamic campaign

- Strong "real world" feel in play

 

 

- Steep learning curve

- Occasionally spotty voice acting

- Potential for information overload

 

 

Review: Armed & Dangerous (PC)

Review: Remote Assault (PC)

Review: Galactic Civilizations II: Twilight of Arnor (PC)

 

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Arma II

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

If you asked a random person in the United States who the absolute toughest soldiers in the world were, there's a good chance they'd tell you it'd be the Navy SEAL teams.  If you asked a United States Marine that same question, they would politely correct your error and inform you that the Marine Force Reconnaissance operators were the toughest.  And having slogged through Bohemia Interactive's Armed Assault II, I'm strongly inclined to agree with the Marines.

 

arma ii          arma ii

 

ArmAII is Bohemia Interactive's follow-up to the original Armed Assault.  Whereas the first game put you in the combat boots of a U.S. Army soldier in the Middle East, this new adventure takes you to the rolling hills and murky forests of Western Asia as a Marine Force Recon sergeant dropped into the fictional breakaway republic of Chernarus.  What starts off as a simple insertion to aid the shaky pro-Western government against a Communist rebellion quickly blows up into a no-

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holds barred battle for the fate of a nation.  It's almost trivializing to call this title a mere "first person shooter," and almost insulting to call it a game.  ArmAII does for infantry combat, SpecOps warfare, and counterinsurgency scenarios what the Falcon series did for flight simulators.  It's just that detailed.

 

Let's get one thing out of the way first: ArmAII is not for the faint

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hearted, weak minded, or those terminally spoiled on lesser titles like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor.  There is no auto-aim.  There are no cute weapon upgrades.  There is no bonus zombie level (though it certainly has the tools to create one if so desired).  Even on the lowest difficulty setting of Recruit, you're going to get your ass kicked, you're going to crash the vehicles, and you're probably going to do it a lot.  If you're thinking you can just skip the tutorials and jump right into the game, you're fooling yourself.  The learning curve on this game is steep.  That being said, once you get the hang of it after killing yourself a few dozen times, it'll probably be second nature to you.  The campaign lays out your objectives easily enough, but accomplishing the missions is not going to be easy.  As you get deeper into the game, your actions will have consequences that will help or hinder your efforts later on.  Shooting everything that moves, talks, or breathes is going to complicate your mission in ways you probably can't begin to imagine.  Winning hearts and minds, on the other hand, might very well save your life.  The game's attention to detail extends into even the smallest things.  Ballistics are highly detailed and quite accurate, even to the point where a real life left handed player might feel a little awkward shooting "right handed" in the game.

 

arma ii          arma ii

 

When it comes to the sounds of battle, ArmAII brings the noise.  Each firearm is unique in its reports.  Explosions are big and rolling up close, satisfyingly rumbling at long distance.  Just about everything that you can think of on the mechanical side things is detailed about as meticulously as the physics.  There wasn't much of a musical score to speak of, and that's a good thing for a game like this.  Shifts in music are great for cinematic types of games, but for a simulation as highly detailed as this, it's a distraction.  And distractions will get you killed.  The voice acting in the game may be one of the weakest parts of the entire thing, and that's a little more problematic.  Sometimes the voice actors display a sense urgency in their actions which is totally appropriate to the circumstances at hand.  Other times, the tone and level of energy just feels a little bit off, like they're reading lines instead of speaking to you.  It's not a big problem in the grand scheme but it does kill the sense of immersion from time to time.

 

As you might expect of any high-end simulation, ArmAII is exquisitely detailed.  Two years is a pretty standard development cycle for any computer program, but Bohemia Interactive's coders have taken this new iteration of their Real Virtuality engine to levels of detail that quite frankly curbstomps the Unreal engine.  From the models and textures on the various weapons to the details on the faces of your squadmates and enemies, there is nothing in ArmAII that doesn't feel like it came out of a news report on CNN or the pages of Armada International.  There was no texture cracking that I could find and no model pop-up as I moved over the terrain.  Grass and trees do look a bit rough up close, but they don't break the illusion, and the water dynamics are positively gorgeous.  And this all on just a card supporting DirectX 9.  I'm not sure if putting it on a DirectX 10 card would bring a player towards "uncanny valley" levels of realism, but it might be worth it to find out.

 

The motto of the United States Marine Corps is "Semper Fidelis."  I can think of no higher compliment for ArmAII than that.

 

- Axel Cushing

(September 8, 2009)

 

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