ArMA: Armed Assault
Written by Daniel Westerstal   
Sunday, 11 May 2008

After five years Bohemia Interactive finally came through and released a sequel to the beloved and revolutionary combat game Operation Flashpoint.

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The fictional island of Sahrani is divided; a communist regime is holding the north of the island while a US supported monarchy is governing the south. US forces decide to finally leave after years of calm on the island, as they do so the north sees an opportunity and attacks the south monarchy. Once again US forces are dragged into battle. If you ever played Operation Flashpoint ArmA will give you flashbacks. The game-play, graphics and environments are pretty much the same.  

Be prepared for a lot of frustration as you play ArmA for the first time. The controls are no-where near other first person shooters on the market. Most stuff is done through a key on the keyboard with no apparent logic or pattern. It took me days to learn the controls; they also differ depending on if you are in a vehicle or on foot, which makes it more complicated. Compared to Battlefield 2 the controls in ArmA are very 90s.

The single-player missions in ArmA are linear and follow a given storyline, actually a pretty neat story. But it is no-where near contemporary and the challenges the army faces are more 1980s with big armored onslaughts than 2008 with insurgents among civilians. Actually this was one of the problems with the original Operation Flashpoint as well.

ArmA was developed with realism in mind, shooting and taking fire is very realistic. You often get shot at without knowing where the shot come from. This might be intriguing for some players, but if you like action it is a good chance that you will get bored. Actually the action sequences are quite few compared to the time it takes to get to certain combat zones. On some maps you drive and walk a lot until any action at all takes place.  It is also hard to feel any real adrenaline during the shoot-outs; it is not like Battlefield 2 or the more recent Call of Duty 4.  The enemy is often far-away and it is mostly a matter of shooting dots moving in the horizon.

Some urban fighting is also taking place in the game, and it is tedious using the ArmA controls in urban environments. It is hard to order soldiers into one exact position while shooting and defending your own position. The friendly AI leaves a lot to be desired, soldiers often stand up when shots are fired around them, and most of the time you actually have to order them to hit the ground. The enemy AI is ok, on some of the later missions stuff actually gets hard, but it is more thanks to scripting of the enemy movements than actually AI doing the thinking.

Most of the military vehicles in ArmA are authentic, there are hummers, AH-1 helicopters, Blackhawk helicopters, Stryker fighting vehicles and much more. There are also several Russian made vehicles, such as the T-72 and T-80 as well as BMPs.

All the vehicles in the game are easy to control, sure flying a helicopter does take some training but it is no-where near as complex as in Battlefield 2.  Most of the vehicles behave accordingly, it is a pretty powerful feeling controlling three Abram´s tanks going into battle. The tank shoot-outs are actually more fun than the infantry ones.

The environments in ArmA looks a lot like the ones in Operation Flashpoint, but there are more urban areas and villages scattered on the map. Some of the maps do have some bugs, soldiers get stuck in houses or in brush for no apparent reason.

Overall ArmA feels more like an improved version of Operation Flashpoint. It is hard to see what new except for the multiplayer features Bohemia brings to the table. There is also more walking and driving than there is warfare, realistic but not that fun.

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Related: Americas Army, Warrock, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
Developer: Bohemia Interactive
Website for Game: http://www.armedassault.com/
Publisher: 505 Game Street
O/S: Windows 2000/XP/Vista
Cost of Full Game: 33 Euro
Year of Release: 2006, 2007 for the Queens Gambit Expansion

Requirements:
Intel or AMD Processor 2.5 GHz, 512 MB RAM, Nvidia Geforce 6600GT or ATI Radeon X800
Tested on:
Intel Core2Duo 1,86 GHz, 2 GB RAM, Windows Vista

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