ArmA II: Craziest Of All The Games

By Alec Meer on May 26th, 2009 at 9:05 am.

Up now on Eurogamer (yes, you’re allowed to read it even if you’re not a Europerson) are the word-fruits of my recent hands-on time with a near-finished version of ArmA II. It’s the second spiritual sequel to Operation Flashpoint, nasty old Codemasters having nicked the name from original developers Bohemia Interactive Software, but reportedly it’s the first true sequel – the first ArmA having been something of a stopgap release primarily aimed up updating the tech available for the enthusiastic community to tinker with. Arma II, though – that’s definitely a whole new game. And an incredibly ambitious one too, as you’ll read in my EG piece. I’m massively excited about it, even if I am a bit frightened by the obtuse controls and punishing difficulty – but unlike ArmA 1, I reckon I will get into this. Read why here.

We’ll also have some bespoke RPS coverage on ArmA II soon – Jim and I are going to sit down and have a chat about our individual impressions of what might be a landmark videogame. Beneath the digi-hurdle, you can find some recent footage of this huge, strange thing.

Compressed videos really don’t do the scale and beauty of the landscapes justice – though, in all honesty, they’re probably doing some favours for the faintly creepy, mannequin-like character models.

Oh, and here’s the crazy, face-waving TrackIR peripheral that ArmA II has been designed to take full advantage of. If you like wearing baseball caps and shooting insurgents, you’ll love TrackIR 5.

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65 Comments »

  1. Sparvy says:

    Doesn’t everyone like that manly “US MARINE!” way of talking?

  2. Heliocentric says:

    Track ir was always a mutant technology. It seems suited to things you drive. But walking? Do i really want to turn my head, see a terrahest and then have to turn my head and mouse look, so i can not only aim at him but look at him too? Mouse look seems much more reasonable. Unless i’m driving a car or flying a jet. Then track ir is totally pimp. Arma 2 seems okay, but really get someone in on the soldiers faces. Eyelids are not that thick, even on soldiers!

  3. Psychopomp says:

    @Heliocentric

    Man, try using that shit, and having spatial disgraphia…

    God, it blew my mind in so many not-positive ways.

  4. Novotny says:

    Since getting used to TrackIr with flight sims and racing games, I’ve caught myself instinctively trying to look to my left and right when playing Red Orchestra. I’m really looking forward to trying it out in this, though I can’t see it ever working with twitch shooters like CS.

  5. Über Nerd says:

    I’ll finally be able to look around in Arma! And perhaps aim! I’d buy it if they bundle.

  6. Gap Gen says:

    I guess it depends on how easy it is to turn. If you can turn easily like most FPSs then TrackIR is pointless on foot, but ArmA had a kind of sluggishness about the movement (possibly as holding a gun is kinda heavy).

    Might find out how stupid strapping a Wiimote to my head as a substitute for this is.

  7. Skurmedel says:

    I pre-ordered this a while ago. I play ArmA with mods almost every day and I think it’s great. You may think whatever you want about ArmA but it does allow for some really good mods.

    I know some people who use TrackIR for both ground and air without trouble. I guess it takes some getting used too.

  8. Novotny says:

    That’s it really, Gap Gen: if you can spin around and aim your gun as fast as you can turn your mouse, then I think Track IR is useless. However as I alluded to above, I’ve been in great positions in Red O where I can’t easily turn my body and besides which, I’m also lined up on a distant target area, maybe got my gun resting nicely. I just want to look to my left, not change position! And so I now find myself trying to turn my head as a result of familiarity with TrackIR.

  9. AndrewC says:

    Here’s a noob question: if you Track IR look all the way to the right, do you have to real life look out of the far left corner of your eyes to still be able to see the screen?

  10. Novotny says:

    No, your head movements are fairly small normally, but it’s very configurable. The video above does a good job of showing how your physical movements relate to your avatar’s view.

  11. Okami says:

    @Gap Gen: It’s actually reall easy to build a head tracking system with a wiimote. The trick is not to strap the Wiimote to your head, but instead wear a headband with two red leds and have the remote resting in front of you. Apart from beeing easier to do than duct taping a Wiimote to your forehead, it also has the added bonus of not making you look like a complete idiot.

  12. Novotny says:

    Apparently, it’s very easy to make your own if you have but a smidgeon of electronic know-how. Lacking this, I just bought TrackIR one night whilst pissed. Had been wanting it for years but the price put me off, however given my nocturnal habit of getting drunk whilst flying online, it was only a matter of time before I woke up to an email confirming my order. No regrets!

  13. DMJ says:

    So…

    “ArmA wasn’t our real game. No, we just sold the tech demo and proof-of-concept to over-eager fans who liked Operation Flashpoint. Buy the real game, ArmA II!”

  14. chequers says:

    do you really have a beard?

  15. Novotny says:

    You get a beard with TrackIR, but I had to buy a baseball cap, which was humiliating.

  16. MetalCircus says:

    I wonder if they squad manegment controls will be as utterly shambolic as they were in Op Flash. I couldn’t get anything done in that game at all.

  17. Andy`` says:

    DMJ: I’m fairly sure they told us something to that effect before ArmA came out. I read a PC Gamer preview from way back that talked about how their next game would basically be Operation Flashpoint 1.5 (essentially the original game with more shiny and polish, a la ArmA), and then a proper sequel would come after that (and be a little more different, freeform – eg: this)

    So surprised I am not. Long time ago that preview was, though.

  18. Gap Gen says:

    There’s also the notion that BI *had* to release ArmA to survive, because they would have run out of money otherwise. I don’t think ArmA’s a bad game – I’ve certainly had a lot of fun with it in co-op multiplayer, and the campaign is OK, if pretty uninspired – but I didn’t buy it at release because of the bug warnings. Hopefully this is more polished than ArmA.

    EDIT: Hmm, yeah, IR LEDs look like being around 80p or so, so you could easily build an LED hat for under £5 if you had a soldering iron and so on. I guess TrackIR is much better, but a Wiimote is several times cheaper, so I dunno.

  19. Sunjammer says:

    I dunno. considering how much trouble i went through to stay OUT of the draft, buying back into a virtual one doesn’t seem like my idea of fun.

    There’s something about the armed forces thats just very uncool to me.

  20. Chris says:

    Gahh… that first video was painful to watch. No sooner had my eyes begun to focus on the content than it started to blur again.

  21. Lh'owon says:

    The first video is just a teaser for the last video, both of which are not made by BI.

  22. jackflash says:

    Can’t wait for this one. Why the f*** is there not a U.S. publisher yet? If this doesn’t end up on steam I will be so very sad. You see Zeke …. Zeke was my son.

  23. Gap Gen says:

    I guess if this had meteor towers, you might find it a little harder. Although those bastard mounted grenade launchers might as well have been. The number of co-op games where one of those has wiped us out from many km away…

  24. Turin Turambar says:

    Mounted grenade launchers… my most hated enemy.

  25. ACESandElGHTS says:

    @Turin: “Noob Tubes” suck, it’s true.

    @Everyone: Anyone plan to buy this for 360/PS3??? My PC isn’t gonna handle this, and I’ve been dreaming of this being an excellent multiplayer game for the 360.

  26. Slippery Jim says:

    By the way, ARMA2 is coming out for 360, but it has not yet been announced (although devs have explicitly said that it’s definitely coming, they just can’t fully announce it). No word on a PS3 version, though.

    It’ll be on STEAM and some other online-delivery systems for those who don’t want to wait for the US release (which will likely be a few weeks after).

    Also, Alec, it’s nice to see a rare example where the previewer does more than play a mission or two- many reviews of ArmA1 didn’t even mention the excellent mission editor and scripting, or mention what made the game unique other than the ‘killed by enemy from 400m’ chesnut. Bravo!

  27. El_MUERkO says:

    I shall lazily copy my comment from the EG Hands On…

    As someone who played the original OFP demo constantly for days and bought every OFP expansion on release day and obsessed over every patch I was insanely excited about ArmA, when I heard the release was staggered and Germany would get it months before the 505′s release I ordered a German copy and waded in… to a buggy mess of a game that took a very long time to come good. But I persisted, buying a 505 version and Queens Gambit the expansion, after many patches and a system upgrade it was very enjoyable. The only reason I don’t play it now is cause the game doesn’t work on Vista 64 with ATI cards :(

    I’ve got ArmA II on preorder, I’m hoping it’s the game ArmA hinted at being but after so many releases that needed a patch or ten before living up to their promise. I’ll probably have more patience than most with it, however I wonder how long Bohemia can go on releasing unfinished software before people stop buying their games. I think there’s a lot riding on ArmA II, I hope Bohemia realise that.

  28. Nick says:

    The mind boggles as to how ArmA2 would work on a console – I’m guessing they’ve tighted then controls up a LOT.. ArmA uses half the keyboard if not more.

  29. Rusty says:

    @Okami: Because I’m going to look totally cool sat at my computer wearing a headband with sparkly LED’s. People will want to be me.

  30. Slippery Jim says:

    @Nick: Have you tried OFP:Elite for the Xbox? It worked great and you could do everything you could on the PC version (apart from out-of-game mission editor stuff). ARMA2 will be the same :)

  31. Nick says:

    If you could do everything then I wish they’d used the same streamlining for ArmA.

  32. Wisq says:

    The addition of wildlife is an important step, though I hope it’s more than just the occasional quadruped.

    One of the banes of trying to remain unseen against humans in a video game is that there’s usually been no non-character-created motion in the game, so if you see anything, you immediately know it’s signficant. Worst case, you have to make sure it’s an enemy; best case, you can just start firing right away.

    Wildlife finally changes all that, although vegetation moving in the wind can help too.

    Also, is OpFlash2 still on-target to be decent? Because, annoying as it is to see a development studio lose its own product name to a tight-fisted publisher, it would be interesting if the OpFlash / ArmA split actually produced high-quality games on both sides of the split.

  33. Turin Turambar says:

    ArmA had also more functions than Ofp, like leaning in corners or switching between soldiers.

    El_MUERkO, you may want to try the last beta patch, which fixes the Vista 64 issue.

  34. Evan says:

    Looks sweet. OFP and ArmA were great. They both had wierd obscure mission stopping bugs, like a tank not moving 5 feet to the appropriate spot so you could get orders. I only got a little into ArmA. When you get hit in the leg and have to crawl 500m to get healed, then run 2 mile to your original destination, it sucks the fun out a little. Although I respect the realism, that bieng what set it apart from alot of the other shooters at the time. The heavy graphics games coming out are making me wonder if ill have to upgrade again…..ugh.

  35. redviper says:

    @Wisq

    As ridiculous as it as may sound we still don’t know much about opflash2, and its releasing this autumn apparently! Apart from the odd teaser trailer there is very little footage of that game. I hope it turns out decent, but the devs have said little on it and to me that doesn’t inspire confidence, but I’ll be playing arma 2 anyhow so long as its not buggy.

  36. Serondal says:

    I just got back into playing ArmA recently with all the patches ect it is REALLY a great deal of fun for me. I joined a group and played online with them (78 or so people doing 1 mission) It is mind blowing watching 10 tanks and 20 people attack a city from the gun camera of an Apache , lighting up enemy troops with cannon and blowing up enemy tanks with hellfire missles ect. KNowing that everyone you see on your team is a player is just nuts.

    Also Track IR is useful on foot for several reasons. When running from cover to cover it is good to look around and see what you can see, but it isn’t a good idea to take your time looking around/walking around out of cover so whilst running track ir lets you look around easily and naturally without slowing down your running. You can already do this in Arm-A with the mouse but track ir makes it easier. It make sit more like real life where your gun doesn’t magically shoot where you look, it shoots where you aim it ;) Also useful for looking around corners (Because Track Ir doesn’t just track up and down, left and right, it also tracks the tilt of your head so you can look round corners or in a cockpit look around the joystick to the switces behind it or lean over and look outside the cockpit at the ground ect.) Also it makes it very easy to send non-verbal messages to your team mates. If they ask you something you can literally nod your head yes or no.

    One featuer about Arm-A I love is that if you use in-game voice chat your solider’s mouth actually moves O.o It is very imerssive standing in a group of 5 or 6 people looking at one guy who’s mouth moves as words come through and then his head snaps in the direction he wants you to go, very natural looking O.o

    My computer won’t be able to play Arm-A 2 , might end up being an X-box 360 for this one if it is any good based on reviews .

  37. ACESandElGHTS says:

    @Wisq: I’m hopeful too that the competition will inspire both sides to produce excellent games. If it works out, it’ll be like having a game and its sequel within a few months of each other.

    @Slippery Jim: How Op Flashpoint escaped my grasp on Ye Olden Xbox, I’m not sure. I was tempted to go out and buy it at this point, but you know what they say… you can’t go back.

  38. Slippery Jim says:

    OFP:Elite was an ugly game, certainly, but its Xbox Live experience was unparalleled! The trouble with ARMA2 hitting the consoles is it’ll likely be a long time, perhaps into early next year. Apparently they’ve been doing parallel development, though, so it won’t be as long a wait as with OFP:Elite ;)

    Also as a disclaimer: The information regarding the development of ARMA2 for 360 is a month or so old at least. BIS might have decided to discontinue, but this is unlikely considering their multiple times they’ve mentioned console development. They’re just waiting on a publisher apparently before they officially announce it.

  39. dsmart says:

    By the way, ARMA2 is coming out for 360, but it has not yet been announced (although devs have explicitly said that it’s definitely coming, they just can’t fully announce it). No word on a PS3 version, though.

    I can tell you for free that its highly unlikely to happen if they’re releasing the PC version first. And since 505 Games, who until recent memory were unheard of, aren’t exactly industry heavy weights, I can’t see any plausible reason for MS to give them a pass. Ain’t gonna happen. Not when you consider that Codemasters have a far more console friendly game like it: OFP: Dragon Rising

    Not sure which build Alec was playing because though he did experience lockups, folks playing the Beta have cited numerous problems. Yet they still have a June 19th launch date. Which means that, by industry standards, it should be at RC state now and should have gone Gold by June 1st given the production schedules.

    Which means they probably already have a buggy build locked down and ready for production; with the inevitable first patch (which is probably what they’re working on now) ready to be available on Day One.

    And they wonder why PC games get a bad rap.

    As to the publisher issue, there isn’t a single PC publisher who is going to touch a console game with a PC lead-in. If they had one lined up already (unlikely), they wouldn’t even be thinking of moving the PC version release up (it was scheduled to be released later than June 19th).

    Of course I could just be talking outta my a$$ but read my latest AAW dev blog to see some of the console shenanigans thats going on out there these days.

  40. Slippery Jim says:

    I can tell you for free that its highly unlikely to happen if they’re releasing the PC version first.

    BIS have definitely been developing ARMA2 for the 360, for well over a year or two.

    folks playing the Beta have cited numerous problems.

    The Beta version that the previewers got their hands on in April and this month was a preview version from February which BIS admitted had bugs. They sent it out with a statement saying that they just wanted to give them a flavour of what the game is, not its final quality. Recent previews, such as Alec’s have builds from this month or last month.

    Which means they probably already have a buggy build locked down

    I concede that I expect a small-moderate amount bugs, but I don’t think there will be universal game-killing ones at release like there were for ARMA1. Can’t wait to find them :D

  41. dsmart says:

    I have it on good authority that that XB360 port was put on hold awhile back. And no, it is not being developed in parallel with a PC version.

    My guess is that they’re probably going to end up with ArmaII-lite on the console. Of course, as before, everyone will just ignore it because the target demographic for that kind of game, is on the PC. Unless you’re COD. In which case they’re not mad enough to go up against the upcoming MW2 as that would just be suicide to say the least.

    I would much rather they spent their effort perfecting the PC version, especially when you consider the “buggy” stigma of ArmaI which still looms large and which they have to get away from. In fact, thats going to be the #1 problem that ArmaII is going to have. That and piracy.

    I for one plan on getting it because it is really the only game of its kind (no, AA is rubbish in comparison) on the PC or anywhere for that matter. From all accounts, ArmaII is looking like a more polished version of the original Arma. Lets just hope that when the dust settles, its not just Arma 1.5. Then again I’m sure that Alec would have pointed that out. :)

  42. Marcin says:

    It’s so pretty and there’s so much to fly, drive and see … I just worry that the pixel-shooting combat will get in the way ^_^

    Edit: I RTFA. Totally accessible editor in something like ArmA (2)? Doesn’t that violate some sort of basic physical laws we exist under?

    Bought.

  43. Slippery Jim says:

    I have it on good authority that that XB360 port was put on hold awhile back.

    That doesn’t surprise me, but as you say it’s on “hold”, not “cancelled”. Can you give a source? I know I didn’t hear this and I’ve been following everything about the game very closely. Watch this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0w_DsS43ZOI&feature=channel_page&fmt=18#t=4m54s

    It has a dev talking about the 360 version. Obviously it’s from a while ago.

    of course, as before, everyone will just ignore it because the target demographic for that kind of game, is on the PC.

    BIS devs (see the above video) say OFP:Elite sold quite well.

  44. redviper says:

    I’m hoping that BIS really learned from their mistakes with Arma1, this series has far too much potential and it would be a shame if they fell into the same trap. I’m personally looking forward to this game more as ofp2 seems to be heading into more of BF/Cod type direction which is entirely inadequate for the sort franchise ofplash was.

  45. Serondal says:

    I think another problem Arm-a 2 might have is that the system requirments are pretty high. I understand that this is the wall all new games are going sadly but it is going to leave a lot of people in the dust playing INdie games like Braid who’s system requirments are much lower :P Upgraded a graphics card or some ram is one thing but I can’t afford to upgarde my PCU to a duel core ect which would require me to get a new mobo all together. I’d pretty much have to buy a new computer to play Arm-a 2 which isn’t going to happen.

  46. dsmart says:

    Comparing Braid to ArmaII? My goodness man, are you mad?

    Frankly gaming is all about “pay to play”. If you can’t pay, you’re not playing. No developer sets out to develop a game for the lowest common denominator when you’re taking high tech into account.

    Given the scope and size of ArmaII, anyone thinking that it could have been developed for lesser systems doesn’t know anything about the the art of game development.

  47. Serondal says:

    I’m not comparing Braid to Arma II , I’m saying that is what my system /can/ play!! LOL I play Arma 1 with everything turned way down but the draw distance maxed out and it works rather well.

    Some games are targeted at the midrange system that the largest number of people own simply because if you only target the highest systems you’re not going to have as many customers to buy your game. Crysis is a good example of this I think it did rather poorly did it not ? ( I may be confused) Because its sysetm requirments were a bit insane.

  48. psyk says:

    “I think another problem Arm-a 2 might have is that the system requirments are pretty high.”

    And more of this crap, duel cores are cheap nowadays no reason to complain about the price.

  49. ACESandElGHTS says:

    Alas, welcome to the world of console enthusiasts. I decided long ago to move the Herman Miller (aka Captain’s Chair, aka Throne) into the shadows of the video game cave, far away from PCs, wife, kids, office supplies. If I’m going to strap LED devices to my head (great visual), I’ll be doing so in front of a 360, and buying whichever GI simulator is deemed worthy.
    I’m inclined to believe the man who says 505 is a little-known upstart and will be denied entrance to the console realm, sad as that is. Actually, that’s too sad. I’ve been the eternal optimist before, and I’ll remain so. I’ve seen both games announce plans for 360 releases and if it’s on the internet, it must be true.
    I mean, have you ever played the original Ghost Recon port for the old Xbox, bugs, bad AI, horrendous mechanics, scenery and all? If that was deemed worthy…

  50. Serondal says:

    If 3000AD can get a game released on x-box I don’t see why 505 can’t :P /runs away and hides/ I’m just kidding mate!

    Upgrading to dual core would require me to a)Buy a totally new computer which I can’t afford, might as well just get a console for those prices or b)Get a totally new mobo and totally new processor ect ect which is beyond my technical capabilities.

    Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining about the specs required, I’m just saying by making a game with these graphic levels they’re excluding a large part of the market which can’t even run the game. Stardock on the other hand seems to target games towards the largest part of the market withs Sins of a Solar empire for example. .

    If companies want to make games with high requirments that is fine by me, I just don’t think better graphics = better game. With the graphics of say half life 2 you could do A LOT and still most people could play it. At this rate I’ll be forced out of the PC gaming and probably just end up reading books and snagging indie games as they come out with low system requirments. Maybe get a Wii or something :(

    Here’s hoping I get a freaking raise (not probably since economic down turn. The news hit about the market bombing and my boss told me the same day I wasn’t going to get a raise after all lol) Or I get some strange money from some place that lets me get a new comp.

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