Field Report #1 - ArmA 2 and Operation Arrowhead

By Brian Leahy, Jul 02, 2010 6:00pm PDT A lot of times we play games not for preview or review, but just to have fun (Shocking, we know!). Field Report provides our first-hand experience with the latest games.

Bohemia Interactive's ArmA 2 is billed as the "ultimate military simulator" and they aren't kidding. I've been playing shooters for a very long time and recently the modern military shooter is in demand. I had dabbled with Operation Flashpoint back in the day, but my computer was never beefy enough to run it well. Now, equipped with a decent machine and a new copy of ArmA 2: Combined Operations, I venture into the brutal, unforgiving world of realistic military combat.

Let me be clear: I am awful at this game. I've completed two of the easiest scenarios on the easiest difficulty and not much else. In the first mission of Operation: Arrowhead I thought I heard an enemy hiding out in a building after we had cleared an airfield. After so much Call of Duty, I calmly went inside to kill him myself only to take a quick bullet to the face since he heard me coming up the steps.

ArmA 2 challenges me to think about playing a shooter differently. Years and years of scripted, linear shooters have led me to be shocked by how differently this game plays. My AI squad actually kills enemy soldiers -- more than I manage to kill -- and those enemies actually exhibit artificial intelligence. They aren't popping out from behind cover at regular intervals. If they are caught off guard, they retreat or drop to the ground to become as small as possible.

Since one bullet usually means re-loading a save game, every single moment in the game is loaded with a minimum level of tension. Group that with a lack of help on the UI, enemies that are actually attempting to hide, non-scripted AI, and accurate weapon ballistics -- you've got one incredibly challenging game.

I loaded up Operation Arrowhead with the full intention of working on a review, but it became apparent that it will take me days and days to get through this game. The game is hard, for sure, but I have to learn how to play a game like this. I fully intend to keep trying, but if you've got even the slightest bit of patience (and a decent gaming PC) and want to try something in the modern warfare genre that actually attempts to simulate modern warfare, I suggest giving it a try.

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  • ArmA 2 is a great game - once they worked the campaign breaking bugs out. So I have good expectation for this expansion. The review sounds positive on what makes the game so epic once you get proficient at it.

    Oh, and you guys that play - if you haven't already - should check out the player made campaigns out there. I am working my way through one where you are in the regular marine assault force instead of the special forces during the invasion surrounding the events in the game, and it's superior in fun than the original. It's amazing how games that let their player communities modify the game just get better with time.