|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Bohemia Int.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atari||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 8, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-multiple (online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jwan Jordan
I know what you're thinking, and no, you are not reading a misprinted title. ArmA: Combat Operations is a new PC title developed by Bohemia Int. Some of you may remember its predecessor Operation Flashpoint which was a highly accepted title among tactical shooter fans for its extreme realism, difficulty, and immersion. Bohemia is hoping lightning will strike twice with ArmA: Combat Operations.
ArmA: Combat Operations retains much of Operation Flashpoint's elements, but thanks to advances in technology, Bohemia has upgraded the size of the game world, graphics, and freedom. This also means there are more than 30 vehicles and weapons for use in combat. As if that wasn't enough to keep your interest, Bohemia has also included new multiplayer modes and a built-in mission editor.
Be warned newcomers, this is not your typical action shooter. If you have any plans of attempting to be the lone hero, Bruce Willis "wanna bes" will immediately have their rear ends handed to them. ArmA: Combat Operations has the realism driven to the max. Even Rambo would crack a sweat. Any unrealistic luxury you're used to in a shooter game has been taken away in ArmA: Combat Operations. So for all you gung-ho heroes, you will be surprised when you take a bullet to your leg and literally have to crawl on your stomach to find the nearest medic. With that said, any hit to the head or torso is immediate death! Don't expect to be performing any hand springs and backwards flips while shooting because reloading requires you stand still just as real life war intended. Though this all sounds harsh and restricting, well, it actually is and it is that fact that makes for a long and fulfilling experience.
Like it's predecessor, ArmA: Combat Operations takes place on a fictitious tropical island named Sharani. The island is split into Northern and Southern states. The Northern democratic republic is the larger of the two, while the smaller part of the island is governed by a monarchy. Much like the unwritten law of adolescence in high school, the big country wants to pick on the little country. As luck may have it, you're a U.S. soldier training your troops in the area when the invasion occurs. This, of course, puts you dead smack in the conflict with your trainee soldiers, and as a team you must repel the invading forces.
Bohemia also conveys the story in a very unique fashion. News reports link the missions together and give you a one sided, seemingly black and white story. Yet as you choose to take advantage of the free roaming option and explore the land, you will find that everything is not as black and white as the media portrays. For instance, the Southern state may lie to the media about massacres that did not even happen in order to plea for international support. The option to roam freely has a big impact on your moral dilemma and gameplay. You can choose to ignore the truth before you and follow the media or risk the lives of your troops to change the tide of battle in favor of saving civilians. It is possible to skip side missions entirely, though it may or may not make your path easier in the long run.
ArmA: Combat Operations also offers a wide variety of vehicles which are scattered throughout the conflicting states. The vehicles Range from cars and bikes to tanks and helicopters and even boats which have all been deserted on the battlefield. Though the vehicles adhere to the same level of realism as the rest of the game, Bohemia admits to making controls a bit user friendly for some fans.
As I stated before, this is not the game for the lone heroes nor is it for the selfish because you have to also take care of your fellow teammates. Bear in mind that your teammates are just as vulnerable as you are, and this makes for tough decisions when confronting moral choices such as risking their lives for side missions. You give commands to your men by using the "F" key, and they convey information back to you in a bit of a stiff manner. Despite their lack of enthusiasm, your soldiers seem to effectively give you information on enemy locations, targets, and injuries.
Bohemia states that the average gamer will clock in about 20 hours on the campaign mission. Though that doesn't count the side missions, editor features, and multi-player modes, which could bring a large amount of additional gaming hours. Many of you will be happy to know that most of the areas are readily available to explore, which means you may happen to come across an abandoned vehicle early in the game.
If you think the single player campaign is immersive, then the multiplayer features are going to seem endless. Bohemia has allowed the entire island for use as a battlefield, and as you could guess, that means the combat between you and your online enemies can go on for days on end! Bohemia didn't want to limit the hardcore online gamers at all, thus there is no limit to how many people can be online competing. It will be up to the host to adapt the matches to unique circumstances. With efficient broadband connections you can have up to 100 players. Like most online games, hopefully the host will find a good balance of fellow gamers and map sizes to function effectively. ArmA: Combat Operations is already released in some European countries, but the rest of us are going to be forced to wait for its release in May.
CCC Freelance Writer