copyright © Jedo Dre 2011

ARMA III



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Impact: Memorable

Arma III is not done yet.


It has been a few months since Bohemia Interactive declared that the game was done and…it is not done yet. A lot of the content that was supposed to be out on release is still not here. At the time of this review the single player campaign is 1/3rd of the way out. Not all guns and vehicles are there. Bugs and performance issues are rampant. Bipods still do not work. This is not entirely abnormal, ladies and gentlemen, because those who have been following and buying the Arma games must by now feel that they have been paying several times for the same game that has been in development since the beginning of the millennium, when it started with Operation Flashpoint 1, and…it is still not done. It is almost like the developers have seen how much shit the players of Arma (and OFP) are willing to take so that that now they aren't even nervous about telling us that they will release Arma 3 in parts and whenever they are feeling comfortable with it.


That really sucks but there are two things that keep us players quiet:


1. There is still no alternative. If you want a sandbox tactical shooter this is it. The closest you can get to this is the Project Reality mod for Battlefield 2. If you know of any alternatives, please send me a personal message because I have been looking.


2. There is enough improvement and new content in each new game to justify our interest, and Arma III is a good jump ahead.


For those who have not heard, Arma is a largely multiplayer centered experience where you are let loose on a large map with other players and/or AI bots and given a choice of different weapons and vehicles to achieve various objectives. The vast terrain and the wide range of weapons and gear grants the player a good amount of tactical freedom. Half way through the mission you could steal an enemy vehicle and drive over the enemies if you so prefer or you could pick them off from a kilometer away with a large caliber sniper rifle if you have access to it.


Arma 3 takes place in the near future on two Greek-ish islands in the Mediterranean and there are no Kalashnikov rifles here anymore as we instead see a large amount of new weapons and vehicles put to use, many of which are concepts based on their modern equivalents while others are simply recently developed weapons that had their names replaced. This does take a step back from the realism, but generally the concepts are very believable, both in looks and behavior.


Even after the release of the 1st campaign DLC, the story is not clear. Anyway, it is not important because it only exists to add several factions and therefore a variety of weapons and uniforms for players to choose from. So far, Brits, Americans and two different Greek-ish factions have made an appearance.


A large part of Arma games has always been the dedicated mod support. For Arma II mods have been steadily coming out at a rate of one or two per week. These could be found on third party websites. For Arma III the main source has become Steam Workshop, which I maintain is a bad place for reasons to be discussed elsewhere, but it appears that at the moment users can only custom create missions and no other content like weapons. It would appear that the third party websites are given a chance again, but they have erringly few mods for Arma III.


The single player experience depends heavily on the custom missions created by users, but you may have to dig through a lot of them to find what you like. As for the official campaign so far....uh...not so good I'm affraid. Arma continues to try to be Call of Duty in its single player campaigns, which clearly does not work. Why the makers could not just try to copy the dialogue and real engagement scenarios from the recent Iraqi war I do not know. It would have been in line with Arma's nature and would fit the game much better.

There is at least enough to do online. You can play against AI, against other players or join one of the rpg servers, which take advantage of the sandbox nature of this game and the publically available modding tools to create RPG type gameplay, and let’s be honest, Arma has always been an RPG but without the leveling system.



VISUALS AND SOUND


The graphics are a noticeable step forward from the previous games. Not only has the quality of the textures gone up, but there are many nice touches like the visible refractions from the hot helicopter exhaust.


With the previous games it was always the same old graphics engine but each new installment had slightly sharper textures and some post processing effects added on top of it. With Arma III enough changes have been done to the Real Virtuality engine and the models that this game does not look like Operation Flashpoint.


Sound has also been greatly improved. Gunfire and AI voices are not as embarrassing as they were in Arma 2. It is unfortunate however that not long after the game’s release a user mod has been published that makes the sound considerably better. You are constantly left asking yourself – why couldn’t BI guys have done this.



PERFORMANCE


As usual with Arma games, the performance is less then optimal. This reviewer bought a new PC at the beginning of this year (2013) and yet my machine often struggles to keep its head above 15 frames per second. Make sure you have a powerful enough machine to run this thing and hopefully it will be further optimized over the coming months.


In addition to the high system requirements there are also bugs...quite a few. This has always been a problem with Arma and perhaps has a thing or two to do with the complex sandbox nature of an Arma game. However, the bugs are not game-breaking unlike in some other games (I am looking at you Rome 2).




CONCLUSION

Bohemia Interactive better start working harder because players are getting concerned with the delay of content and the way mods are handled on Steam Workshop. If the situation does not improve soon, I will have to revert to Arma II and of course BI will not care because they have already suckered us into paying for the game, but guess what: once your reputation is tainted the next game will not be so easy to sell.