metal_mills's ArmA 2 (PC) review

A great game let down by a lot of issues.

ArmA 2 is basically Operation: Flashpoint. Same developers, same gameplay, same everything. If you've played OP:F then you'll know what to expect. This game is probably the most mixed bag of good and bad you'll ever find. For ever great part, there will be one terrible.

The game has a single player story which is also fully co-op for up to 4 players, single level scenarios, a hefty Boot Camp, online multiplayer and an editor. Not bad. One thing this game doesn't lack is content.
I start off with Boot Camp and try a few of the stages out, it's just a large tutorial that helps you learn everything from basic movement to commanding an entire army. You'll need to go through at least part of it before starting the campaign because there are somethings in this game you won't just be able to learn on the fly, mostly due to the clunky and out dated UI.

Unknown Helicopter, 11'o clock, 300 meters.

After Boot Camp, I jump into the story mode and instantly I'm wondering what in the holy hell is going on? I'm standing in the middle of a battle with a dead guy next to me speaking Russian, a minute later I die. Umm...Okay? After that I start for real and am on an Aircraft Carrier. You'll notice already there are quite a few sound and graphical issues include voices that have a strange echo to them and the worlds worst lip syncing.  I was also really surprised the main character is black seeing as the voice actor isn't(who sounds like a shitty John DiMaggio). Master Sergeant Miles, another black solider, again was voiced by a white guy and sounds pretty bad(The voice reminds me of Seth Green a bit).
When you enter the main campaign it's much more open than your normal FPS. Some objectives require you to go out and search for them rather than having a big X on your map. It's good because it lets you explore the fairly huge world and finish objects in the order you want plus I never found it too hard, you'll always have a couple of helpful hints to guide you on your way. You'll also have side missions that include objects such as escorting a woman to safety and helping save civilians.

Those four seconds of flight before I slam into the ground are great fun.
The combat is almost exactly like OP:F. You have a huge range of weapons to choose from but none of them have a unique feel. The recoil even seems none existent with the only noticeable recoil being the cursor jumps a bit while you fire. The muzzle flashes for the guns that have them are really bad too with them being ripped right out of OP:F. That's just being lazy.
I also found it hard to spot enemies a lot of the time, they seemed to really blend in with the environment. Whether the developers meant for this or I just suck, I'm not really sure. However, my AI team mates found it easy to identify, target and kill enemies I couldn't even see which was a bit of a bummer. I want to take down the bad guys, not watch someone else do it. It's still fun when you're in a battle though and the fact that a single bullet can seriously wound or kill you makes it feel a lot more tense than the average run-and-gun. I love the big explosions have a delayed sound when they are off in the distance you like it does in real life. I never get sick of seeing as a big flash then a couple of seconds later BOOM.

A major issue in the game is with the AI. It is DUMB. I'm not talking a bit slow, I'm talking "duuuuuuuuuuuuuh". I can't count the amount of times they had problems doing simple tasks or end up ruining a mission because of stupidity. A few examples are: In the second mission after I had cleared the first town, a HMMWV was approaching me and my team. As it reached us one of my squad mates went prone and crawled on to the road where the HMMWV ran right over him, which then smashed into a bus and repeatedly rammed it over and over. Another time I called for a chopper to pick me up just for it to land on top of a roof that was impossible to get too. Other times they just run into the line of fire, get run over by a vehicle or simply disobey an order and stand there. When you need to order everyone into a jeep, then out, then back in again for the fifth time because one of them is too dumb to actually enter the vehicle, it starts to get annoying.
If you make a game that is all about commanding squads and replying on them there is no excuse to make the AI this bad, in fact you'd expect it to be quite smart and above average.
This was a Toyota sedan before going on Pimp my ride.

The main campaign is decent but it's not really what this game is about. It's about making your own fun which is where the editor comes in. You'll never find a more simple and quick way to set up your own battles, and, yes, it is the editor from OP:F. You just select the item you want(eg. a couple of Tanks) and click on the map where you want it to appear. You can also change the time of day and weather. Unfortunately, when I tried making a gigantic battle the number of units fighting was so big it became a slide show for the first half but there are an unlimited number of scenarios you can come up with.

Graphically the game is hit and miss. Overall, it looks nice but the animation, lip syncing and muzzle flashes are all weak.
The big problem though is the performance. While I can run games such as Crysis with ease, ArmA 2 was unable to run at 1080p because of the terrible frame rate. I had to set it at 720p and keep AA on normal and textures lower than I'd like. It really isn't acceptable considering how powerful my PC is.
I also experienced a lot of texture pop-ups throughout the game. The worst being in towns where some of the buildings would appear right in front of me with the texture missing for a few seconds. Strangely, there are no rag doll physics either, giving you the same canned death animations from, yep, you guessed it, OP:F. However the atmosphere is excellent and the vehicle models and characters are good too. You really start getting into the game when it's pitch black, you're in the forest as a sniper, all you can near is the air and crickets and you have your night vision on scanning for enemy troops.
Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads...

As you can see, the game has a lot of flaws but the core gameplay is actually really good. The combat is exciting, the graphics are good with an amazing atmosphere and the single player has been fun and a nice change of pace with it being a lot less linear.
At the moment, it's a bit of a mess, if not a fun mess. In six months though when Bohemia release some big patches, smooth out the bugs and performance issues and the modding community start releasing some seriously amazing mods, this game will become a must buy and might even be worthy of 5 stars.

Sadly, I wasn't able to test the multiplayer seeing as the game currently isn't out in Australia and won't be until late August for some strange reason. I had to import mine from the UK.
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