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Quote :A rapid cacophony of impacts broke the monotony of driving, accompanied by the chatter and crack of automatic fire hitting the vehicle. The person next to me that I had been talking to was already slumped over and covered in blood by the time I realised we were in the middle of an ambush.
I jumped out of the vehicle, as it's wheels had been taken out by a 40MM grenade, and, because I had been shot in the leg, crawled my way into a ditch at the side of the road, where I passed out and died.
I think, after all this time, I can finally review this game.
One of the biggest things I noticed coming into this game is the learning curve, which is rather extreme. You will intially be very confused by things and some, the AI and the ballistics in particular, are very complex and not well explained in-game.
Once you overcome that, the game opens up and it's absurd freedom starts tp show- you can do ANYTHING in this game, despite it being presented as a military tactical game.
Modes and missions range from the Life and RPG simulation of everyday normality, people working jobs, driving around and having a police force, to the Survival and post-apocalyse gamemodes revolving around the pursuit of food and water, weapons and transport to stay alive.
You have the ever-popular PvP gamemodes such as King Of The Hill and EUTW, which bring a Battlefield style gameplay mode into Arma, and you have the original Battlegrounds, which was so popular it is now available as a standalone game.
Another side of the game is that of the clans and groups who take the base Arma's focus on the military and expand it, making the already impressive realism to ever greater levels, with things like new weapons, uniforms and vehicles covering every nation in the world, to advanced medical modes that take into account blood loss, surgeons and battlefield trauma and medical care to fantastic and impressive details.
Groups like these are one of the biggest attractions of the game, and range from small groups to friends to massive clans with over 300 active members- Arma can support over 120 players in a single multiplayer game, in addition to hundreds of AI soldiers, so the scale of some of these groups in without comparison to anything else except EVE.
Arma has such a wide variety and depth to all it's systems, from how the ballistics and each individual round is modeled in the game, and affected by velocity, drop, zeroing, penetration against various materials from wood, brick, steel and body armor, to rounds being able to bounce and deflect due to high-angle ricochets on hard surfaces like concrete or vehicles.
That's just a single example, and the game covers everything from underwater combat and submarines, land battles with infantry and tanks with modular damage to systems and parts, making it possible to, for example, knock out a tanks tracks and turret without destroying it, leaving it totally helpless, all the way to next-generation jet fighters and advanced radar detection, thermal and IR technology.
You can go from using a submarine and respirators for a stealthy night insertion on a Greek coastline in 2035, to commanding a tank crew in a pitched battle in the Iraqi desert during the Gulf War, to evacuating wounded soldiers from thick Vietnamese jungles in 1970, before using an American aircraft carrier to stage for a dogfight above Russia in the modern day, all in the course of a few hours.
This is due to the huge modding and creation community for the game, who add a massive range of things to the game, from new vehicles, sounds, maps, campaigns and new missions, systems and anything you can possibly think of- Someone has either made it or is working on it- from ALIEN and Star Wars, RPG and Police cars, to every weapon and piece of equipment used by the British, American, French, German and Russian armies over the past decade.
On to the Singleplayer aspects of the game-
I put over 350 hours into the singleplayer content alone, and never even touched the multiplayer aspects until after that.
Despite it's reputation for it's MP based community singleplayer can still give people plenty of intresting missions, and Steam Workshop support for mods and missions is fantastic.
The base Arma 3 campaign is set in 2035, and revolves around NATO forces on the islands of Altis and Stratis (based on real islands off the coast of Greece) and their fighting with the native AAF armed forces and the more advanced CSAT, based on an Iran/ ME alliance.
The campaign does not hold your hand, and you are thrown into a situation where you are NOT the winners, being constantly on the back-foot and fighting with lesser equipment and as guerillas and insurgents fighting against a military with superior armaments to you, which is a nice change from the normal state of affairs in games, where you play the exact opposite.
The campaign is rather long and has both free-roaming missions and storyline missions to progress throughout it. I would estimate the base campaign to be about 20-35 hours long depending on difficulty, your style of play and if you do the optional free-roaming mission.
The AI are able to supress you, pin, flank and use a decent level of tactics, so it's often best to take some time to plan your mission in advance- What cover is in the area? What is the sightlines and visibility and is a stealth approach possible? Where are the enemy patrol routes and is there any chance of enemy reinforcements? What type of enemy soldiers and equipment do you suspect they have- nightvision, machineguns, marksmen, support assets like vehicles or static weapons can affect your approach to your objective.
The sandbox nature of the game means you can often go around or even totally avoid some obstacles or forces you might come across.
The Apex Expansion also adds a small COOP campaign, which has some great presentation and polish, based on Tanoa, which is a fictional island off the coast of Fiji, and is a utterly STUNNING looking map, well worth the price of the Expansion.
Apex takes place on the Tanoan islands, off the coast of Fiji and Australia, and follows a small, well equipped British special forces group, CTRG, and their fighting against the Syndikate drug Cartel in the jungles. As special forces you are often deployed at night, and have access to advanced equipment like thermals and night vision, putting you at a technological advantage over the Cartel, but the Cartel have greater numbers so a stand-up battle is often a fatal problem- it's often possible to avoid patrols and soldiers. Apex also adds a wide range of weapons including the AK-47M, AK-12, AKS-74U, HK-416 and HK-417, M249 SAW, MP5K PDW.
Performance and lifetime-
One of the biggest problems people have with the game is performance. Because of huge complexity of the game, particularly in Multiplayer, the performance of the server and the mission is paramount- MOST of the highly popular and heavily scripted gamemodes will not get 60 FPS, regardless of settings, but with a good server and mission you can achieve 60+ FPS. The game is biased towards CPU clock speed, rather than the GPU like most other games, so a higher clock CPU sees much better performance than a GPU upgrade.
The game is constantly getting large updates even years after release, and the DLC's always come with free platform updates, adding new features like bipods, sound overhauls, new weapon and clothing features like thermal concealment, advanced helicopter flight models for more simulator-like flying, and many others it would take too long to list.
Arma is, put simply, the most widely varied and impressive game I have ever played, and the absurd number of hours I have in the game ( Over 4,200 at the time of writing) is a testiment to it's great community, authentic gameplay and varied experiences. I'm going to be playing the game for years to come, and Arma was an eye-opening intoduction to PC gaming for me.
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