Combat Operations is a soldier sim. We see a boatload every year, but this one is special. This is the follow-up to Operation Flashpoint, the game that was so realistic it became a professional military simulator. The raw facts about ArmA tell one hell of a story: 400 square kilometers of island to explore, 30 different weapons, 30 controllable vehicles, accurately modeled bullet ballistics, a full weather system, accurate tides and constellations, pesky insects...
It’s the product of developers obsessed with getting things right, which makes their decision to release it in a clearly broken state utterly baffling. It’s playable and enjoyable on many levels, but level-breaking bugs, game-crashing bugs and pathfinding bugs mean you don’t know what level of quality you’re getting from one mission to the next: will it be the astonishing military sim, or a comedic run around?
This time, Bohemia has set their game-world on an Atlantic island. A schism between the democracy and dictatorship governing the north and south of this landmass means that when the Kingdom of South Sahrani allows Americans onto its land to help train its military, the northern Democratic Republic of Sahrani see it as an act of aggression. So they invade, leading to a myriad of conflicts across the island. And you, as a member of the American deployment, take a role in the warfare.
ArmA, despite the name change (Codemasters own Operation Flashpoint), is clearly of Flashpoint’s lineage: a complex dissection of the soldier’s role.
It’s not just about pointing the crosshairs at someone’s head and firing: it’s about where you are on the map, understanding where the cover is and how to use it effectively, knowing your guns fire realistically modeled bullets that won’t always hit where you intended, and that in any case firing will most likely give the enemy enough information to draw a bead on you. Sometimes all that stands between you and death is a handily positioned bush.
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