The original ARMA, eventhough a shameless copy of Operation Flashpoint, was a decent game. It had some bugs, but also solid gameplay and a strong focus on the entire multiplayer part made that the player was more forgiving than usual. ARMA 2 seems to go down the same lane. Bugs, bugs and more bugs, but such a sweet game that you almost forget it doesn’t all run fluidly.
Operation Harvest Red, that’s the name of the ridiculously short and bug-filled singleplayer campaign that explodes as a true Kosovo/Jugoslavia civil war with conflicts between different ethnic groups in combination with the necessary gruesome war crimes and mass graves. Where in ARMA you were the eternal soldier in a meaningless unit who would go with the flow of gunfire and blasting cannons, in this sequel you get the chance to be squad leader of a specialised team of five recon units that go by the name of Team Razor. Next to that you get all sorts of support units and vehicles at your disposal going from APCs to helicopters, artillery and unmanned recon planes (UAVs). Also there’s the possibility to commandeer any vehicle your encounter in the world and head off with it. This is also necessary as a giant environment like Chernarus, the fictive country where everything is happening, has distances that are too large to simply do on foot.
As previously stated, the somewhat thin singleplayer mode gets ruined by tons of bugs and badly coded triggers that fail your mission without you having a clue what you did wrong. Luckily the entire multiplayer part – and especially the Warfare mode – makes up for this. Warfare is just about the most extensive gameplay experience I’ve encountered in an online FPS. The mode brings perfect harmony between the traditional ArmA playing style with some great RTS elements. With points you earn by completing missions you can buy buildings, vehicles and even AI and put it all in your army. Be careful before you start this though, due to the large maps and the relatively high amount of players and AI that participates at the same time you’ll quickly get sucked into the atmosphere of war and large battles for hours.
Although the single and multiplayer are very important aspects of the game, ArmA has a lot more to offer. It starts with the Armory where you have the possibility to test all military hardware present without getting shot by some sniper hiding in the bushes. If you prefer more action, the Armory even has some small missions (without storyline) where different objectives need to be achieved with a certain weapon or vehicle. Next to that there’s also an extremely simple but powerful editor which allows to make your own maps and missions in a jiffy with all bells and whistles attached. A tool like that isn’t extremely important for everyone but what most amongst you might find interesting is that such a powerful application opens the doors wide for a solid modding community. A community that was already present in the first ArmA. This means there’s a ton of content that can be downloaded from the internet.
Little bad can be said abuot the graphical beauty. Splendid environments of such grandure, enormous natural effects, an insane amount of objects ranging from houses to trees to the smallest animals… this all can be shot to pieces by all the realistically drawn war violence that makes ArmA 2 ArmA 2. Also the sound effects that tanks, jeeps and everything else make are of high quality. The system requirements are relatively high, but when looking at the beauty of this game you know why.
ArmA 2 still suffers from some of the diseases of its predecessor with a ton of bugs in the campaign taking the head start. also the somewhat complicated command structure is again present and for newcomers this can be quite tricky and cause some problems. Aside from that this realistic FPS is true bliss. A breath of fresh air amidst al the standard shooters that we’ve seen hundreds of times already because here strategy and tactics play a large role and have an impact on the further progression of the mission. ArmA 2 is a solid game, but the problems that pop up here and there can ruin the entire experience. Certainly worth checking out but you’ll have to look past the bugs as the patches haven’t helped too much up until now.