Armed Assault

There are thousands of people reading this who have never played Flashpoint. There are probably thousands who have never even heard of Flashpoint. Armed Assault is their chance to correct that, without having to make allowances for the passage of time.

Let’s deal with the obvious stuff first, though: Flashpoint is a brilliant game to remake. It’s nothing less than the best soldier sim, ever.

And the advantage it has over all the others? It encourages massive, continual improvisation. It forces you to make the kind of decisions a soldier would make in war.

You’re given a mission to destroy a convoy of trucks and tanks that are delivering supplies to the front lines. Where do you position your troops? Where do you lay the mines. Who do you target first?

Where once there were technical limitations, in the latest incarnation of the game there are now opportunities. In addition, the odd concessions Bohemia had to make to silicon are being swept away.

Where once you could see to around 500 metres before the world disappeared into fog, they’re aiming for a more realistic two kilometres.

Operation Flashpoint couldn’t include inland lakes, either. Now it can. You can also escape by boat, rather than tractor. Where once there were forests made up of a single block of polygons, now there are individual trees. Hills cast shadows, and there’s also long grass for you to hide your squad in.

All these changes are to be applied retrospectively to the old campaigns; and as a bonus, Bohemia are working on a brand new series of missions to take advantage of the new features. Specifically: massive woodlands and a major city.

Here, you play an American peacekeeper assigned to defend the South of an island from the despotic Northern regime. The US, in preparing to pull out, trigger an invasion from the angry Northerners. Oops. America’s first steps in this new conflict all lead one way: backwards, in an organised fighting retreat.

The story of this campaign is told in flashback. Much of the fighting will take place in urban areas, and Bohemia are working on creating as big a city as the engine can handle.

When looking at the calendar for 2006 and trying to work out what’s going to be a quality item, this is the closest thing to a sure thing.