Hooah! This week I'm being deployed to America's Army 3, which I'll admit isn't actually a demo, but instead a full, free-to-play, first-person shooter created as a recruitment tool by the United States Army. I'm still going to treat it like a demo, however, and my rule with demos is that if I give them an eight sticky-bomb rating, I buy the full game. So, if I give this game an eight rating, I guess I will have to join the Army. Boy, I really I hope I don't like this game.
Luckily for me, I'm off to a good start in hating the crap out of it, after spending hours just trying to get the damn training missions to run. I won't go into detail on all the technical problems I had, but let's just say I spent a great deal of time stationed at Fort Desktop and logged countless hours in Reboot Camp.
57% is a passing grade, but something tells me I'll still be scrubbing garbage cans.
Eventually, a surge of patches and updates allowed me to begin my training. Someone had already taken the username "Demoman", but the demo was nice enough to suggest a few alternatives. I went with "MrsDemoman", the least stupid of the suggestions, which included "FerretDemoman" and "TheCoyServant". Not exactly as catchy as Iceman and Maverick.
First up, MrsDemoman tackled the "Fit to Win" obstacle course, where the lesson was quickly learned that no one in the U.S. Army has ever played a video game. Left-Alt to sprint? Ctrl to melee attack? At least my drill instructor didn't mind me stopping in the middle of the obstacle course to remap my keys. After running, crawling, and rolling my way to success, it was on to the live fire ranges to learn how to shoot various weapons and throw grenades.
Punishment is swift if you frag a friendlie. To get out of jail, hit Escape. Makes sense.
I had to pass three tests with my M16, squeezing off careful shots at distant targets while lying prone, kneeling, and standing. I failed a couple times: they don't give you a lot of ammo, and you have to hold your breath (with the spacebar) to keep your aim steady. Frankly, the best shot I made all day was after swiveling around and putting a round into my drill instructor's dome, which the Army did not look upon favorably. After leaving my jail cell, I spent some more time on the range with the M320 Grenade Launcher and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, which has a reload animation so long you could spend a week in Morocco and be home in time to see it finish. I attempted to take the Combat Lifesaving class, too, but it stubbornly refused to run without freezing. But hey, how often do injuries really come up during battle, anyway?
It's a shame when a young mannequin goes down. He had a pretty plastic girl back home, too.
On the grenade range, I learned you don't just chuck grenades with one button press, either. Pull the pin with one click, and use another to "cook" the grenade. Cooking a grenade, as far as I can tell, means holding onto it just long enough to have it explode three inches from your face after you throw it. I somehow passed with my eyebrows intact.
Finally, I was on to the MOUT Course, which combined everything I've learned in all the training missions, things like missing targets because I forgot to hold my breath, running out of ammo, throwing flashbang grenades and having them bounce off doorjambs and explode in my face, forgetting where I remapped my melee attack to, and not knowing anything about first aid. Needless to say, of the first five times I went through the MOUT course, I failed four times. Then I failed a fifth time. Gotta say, though, for shooting cardboard targets, it's a lot of fun.
If the enemy just stands there impassively in a real fight, I'll do fine.
Still, there's nothing like shooting actual people, so despite not passing my finals or half the other training missions, I decided to take a jaunt online and see how I did in the real game. The answer will not shock you. I ran around a farm level, having no idea what the objectives were, emptying clips and hitting no one, and getting shot by enemies I didn't know were there. Eventually I employed the only strategy I could, namely, finding the highest scoring player on my team and following him around. After about a half-hour, I got one confirmed kill. It would seem I am not an Army of One. Whew.
Download the America's Army 3 installer on FileShack.