ARMA 2: First Impressions

Like Armed Assault. But better.

Oh so you want more details, as opposed to a single line? Okay then. ARMA 2 is the sequel to Armed Assault, a milsim released in 2007, which in turn is based upon Operation Flashpoint released in 2001. These games are all very realistic games based off the programs currently being used to train both the US and British militaries. We have mentioned this series previously. Well today my copy of ARMA 2 turned up in the post.

After managing to almost knock myself out with the rest of the post, I rushed back upstairs and ripped it open. First thing that struck me was the weight of the game. Its actually quite heavy due to the extra thick manual. While not to the standard of Civ 4’s table top horror, it is still quite large. And it needs to be. ARMA 2 is still as complex as the other games.

Once its installed (DRM is simply a keycode the way it should be), the game has a lot of content to play with. As well as the free form campaign, there are 9 single missions. And on top of this, there is a quick mission builder and a more in depth full editor. And then there is multiplayer and the Armoury feature. So far, I’ve tried some of the campaign, quite a few quick missions, an  in depth look at the editor and a tiny look online.

First up the campaign. The first mission is pretty good and shows off the rest of the campaign well. The situations are a lot more realistic than those in ARMA and also more realistic than COD 4.  It is a lot more enjoyable than the first campaign. The quick missions now include a new mode called “Combat”. This simply drops you in Chernarus (the setting of the game based on part of the Czech Republic) and then feeds you mission like rescuing downed airman or destroying key targets. Its a nice idea, but it can show up the flaws in AI system. Or more likely you have to run a couple of miles to get to an objective only to find it has been captured by a bunch of local bastards who then proceed to shoot you. However, due to its randomness its a gift that keeps on giving. The full editor has had a few updates but the best thing is the introduction of the “Ambient” game logics. This makes it ridiculously easy to add civilians, animals, parked vehicles and even full blown warfare by adding a single item. Also of interest is how the factions are split up: BLUFOR (US Marine Corp and CDF), OPFOR (Russia and Insurgents) and Independent (Guerrilla). Finally, online. The ideas behind it seem really good and with 50 players it would be brilliant. But there are some flaws. First is the lack of players. Admittedly, I am playing before European and American release dates (its currently only properly released in Germany (the home of insane PC gamers)), bu there are hardly any players. And even worse they are spread out on too many servers leaving most servers lagging out while other lie empty. Also the game is setup so players HAVE to forward ports in order to host. For some people this can’t be done. So no co op for us.

As well as overall changes, there are also some gameplay changes. I’ve talked a lot so I’ll do this quickly. Knee high walls are no longer a threat (you can climb over them), injured soldiers can be dragged out of the way or hoisted over your shoulder and the new control system is much improved. Guns sound better, new units look better (the new independent troops are especially good) and the controls are better.

So far, I’m really enjoying ARMA 2. Its a big improvement over ARMA and I’ll be playing it instead of the original from now on. Review should be coming at some point next week.