ArmA II: Getting Lost In The Armory

Playing 40 hours of Assassin’s C reed III over the last couple weeks made me tired of AAA games that hold your hand as much as Ubisoft likes to these days. By the time I finished it I was in the mood for a much more open-ended action game, and for some reason that meant military simulators. Between now and the PC launch of Dark Souls II I’ve chosen to mess around with ArmA II and its utterly shocking amount of freedom and content.

First I decided to mess with Ubisoft’s own original Ghost Recon. I ended up deciding not to finish it since losing my original save file, but I did mess around with it for one last time. Like a lot of mainstream gamers, I find its “one-hit death” rule pretty intimidating, but I keep coming back to the game because it’s the only one in that franchise that gives me the elbow room to plan the execution of each mission myself instead of running from waypoint to waypoint. The real tragedy of tactical shooters is that developers have forgotten that’s the real appeal of them.

After closing the book on Ghost Recon I went to ArmA II because I had a barely-played copy sitting around, it (along with its sequel) is almost the only true tactical shooter made for modern hardware, and there’s more to do in it than most AAA games I’ve ever seen. I meant to mess around with some main singleplayer content but ended up spending hours in a completely tertiary mode.

If you haven’t touched an ArmA game, try to imagine Battlefield 4 but in an open world at least as large as Grand Theft Auto V and with less forgiving game mechanics. When I originally tried ArmA II what initially blew me away about it is how it tries to simulate the battlefield chain of command, having each character’s AI constantly reacting to and communicating with other AI. Commanders will send orders down to troops who will call out locations to each other, and absolutely none of it is scripted. ArmA II is also one of the buggiest and cheaply put-together military shooters I’ve ever seen, but you can’t help but still appreciate the sheer magnitude of what it attempts.

The meat of the game is the multiplayer, and the stuff I described above mostly comes into play in the main campaign, the extra scenarios, and the many fan missions that have been made for the game. I’ve been caught up in the ArmA II’s “Armory” mode — basically a sandbox mode where you get to try out every single weapon, vehicle, and character model. It includes a very basic but extremely replayable series of challenges.

Basically, ArmA 2’s Armory mode has you do pre-made challenge objectives in randomly selected places on its world map. That world map is so large that I honestly don’t know if I can run out of different challenges to play. I might play the “Assassinate the VIP” mission a dozen times, but there is so much space in which it could randomly generate that the mission might never happen the same way or in the same place twice. And you can do this with seemingly hundreds of different weapons, vehicles, and characters which you unlock through the challenges. I could easily see myself spending 30-plus hours on what was probably an afterthought feature. Then there’s the easy-to-use level editor.

I think that gets down to the real allure of ArmA for me. Most people might play it to experience realistic military combat, but ArmA II is also an enormous toy chest of military shooter scenarios. It and its sequel feel like an extremely stark departure from an industry of linear cinematic shooters.

BULLETS:

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One thought on “ArmA II: Getting Lost In The Armory

  1. Great write up and I couldn’t agree more about your closing comments “ArmA II is also an enormous toy chest of military shooter scenarios.” That pretty much sums up the game in one sentence. Great Blog :)

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