Wot I Think: Arma II

By Jim Rossignol on June 29th, 2009 at 8:00 am.


Arma II is out in Europe and on Steam. It is the single most ambitious war game ever to grace a games machine. It is full of bugs. Does that mean you shouldn’t play it? Here’s wot I think.

It seems that many of the games I have the greatest respect for start out as exercises in pure frustration. I had three or four attempts to crack Eve Online, for example. My modest talent for Quake III came out of sheer disgust and rage at the people who, when I first started playing, could shoot me in mid air with a railgun and spam ironic smilies in the text chat at the same time. I’d teach them to :/

Anyway, Arma II seems like one such familiarly frustrating scenario. I was bug-eyed with rage through some of the open levels, where repeated battles with unseen assailants left me, or my team-mates, defeated, and restarting a level, again and again. I was okay with me being rubbish, but what about the three computer-controlled Marines? Why were they allowed to die? I bitched and griped in the RPS chatroom.

Later I watched with sad amazement as my AI helicopter ride refused to land in the open terrain I’d directed it to, instead awkwardly placing itself between some trees to deposit my team. We got out, watched the chopper try to take off, explode, and then spit out the NPC air crew who had just been talking to us. The pilot stood there, unharmed and stupidly glancing about. UNKNOWN, MAN, IN FRONT OF, US, said my AI team mate. I shook my head.

Frustrations with the interface created mess after mess: I’d jump into a helicopter, and order my team to do the same. Except one of them gets into a nearby car. What? Only half way across the vast landscape of Chernarus do I realise that he is following us on the ground. I have to wait for 10 minutes for him to catch up.

There there was the sinking feeling of the sheer arcane complexity of the interface. Going through menu upon menu in the bootcamp training exercises, I wondered if they pay off could possibly be worth the amount of effort was putting in learning how to play. There are half a dozen layers of commands for individual units, and I could potentially be controlling many units at any one time. There wasn’t just a hard-as-nails infantry simulation to get to grips with, there was also a strategic-level game, where I’d be not just commanding military forces, but building them from scratch.

It didn’t help that the UI is foggy, and unclear, and that the strategic map is incredibly clunky and counter-intuitive: entire at odds with how I’d expect a mouse-driven system work. Rather than click and context menu, the action takes place where I have the mouse when I select an option on the number menu. Eugh. Horrible.

In some ways, it was like being sent back to school. An illogical school, where they teach lessons inside out.

“Welcome to Arma II High, where you’re going to have to learn gaming from scratch, starting with the first person shooter, and building up toward the… PAY ATTENTION, ROSSIGNOL!

Bluuh!

I’ve still barely got to grips with the commander stuff, and I’m a kind of flailing sadface when playing online, despite having browsed Dslyecxi’s dizzyingly large “tactics, techniques & procedures” guide.

And yet I’m now hooked.

The main campaign of Arma II, which unfolds piece by piece, sometimes beautifully, sometimes incoherently, is arguably one of the most interesting gaming experiences on the PC. Running battles through woodlands, interrogating locals, co-ordinating UAV drone strikes, riding mountain bikes, messing about with bombs, helicopters, and stolen Eastern European tractors: the open world military sim begins to cohere, like a formidably layered cake in the Gas Mark 5 oven of your imagination. The sheer variety of what you get up to is enthralling, and it’s little more than a sampler of what Arma II as a system, as a wargaming platform, is capable of. Yes, it’s messy and ill-judged at times, and recipe is ludicrous, but it is also bold and often brilliant.

The fact that it is total non-linear, and offers multiple paths in a manner than would embarrass most RPGs is one thing, but when you look at the intricacy with which some battles play out – with weather, ordnance, and behaviour all meticulously modelled – it becomes startling.

To get a better idea about that you have to go and have a look at the editor. Drop in and start setting up scenarios: gone are the impossible scripting tasks of the original games, now you can drop events, units, and parameters directly onto the map. With these kinds of shortcuts readily available I expect astonishing scenarios to be conjured up in mere hours. Indeed, we’ve already seen what people are doing with thousands of AI fighting battles on a single map. A map that covers over two hundred square kilometers of terrain.

Occasionally with a frustrating or difficult game it’s a single experience that makes it click, and makes me know why I like it, or why I hate it and must castigate it unto destruction. But not so with Arma II. Instead it was a gradual, sedimentary build up of smaller happenings that vindicated the entire thing. During the campaign this included the introduction of support elements and the escalation of the war, the slow realisation of the enormity of the thing, winning a battle against a much smaller force with just Razor team, seeing my first tank battle, watching attack helicopters in action, seeing the strategic elements build into the game and take advantage of them, delivering an artillery strike correctly, using targeting toys for friendly aircraft, and so on, and on.

While there seems to be something slightly too washed out and shaky about Arma II’s engine, it nevertheless bags the feel, the overall sense-data of being in a warzone, better than anything else out there. The crackle and crump of nearby battles seems exactly right, and the sudden confusion and violence of coming under fire is about as harsh as it could be. Struggling towards an injured member of Razor team, dragging him into cover and patching him up: that’s a desperate kind of drama that you don’t get in many other games.

Mechanically the game is variable. While I hate the UI and almost all of the interface, the feedback of controlling the character is precisely what I want from a game like this – at least once I’d reduced the default headbob a little. Throwing myself to the ground as gunfire kicks off, rolling behind cover, and then crawling for the nearest best point to return fire – it all feels grim and hard. As you play more you realise you can step over low objects – those foe that have foxed gaming protagonists for decades, and even move your gun and head around independently. All this starts to make you realise – as the gun battles slowly become more and more transparent – that sticky-to-wall cover systems in other games might be more fun, but they are as ludicrously artificial as Mario’s ability to jump five times his own height. When you’re running through woods, or shattered villages, and diving into bushes as bullet zip and snap towards you, the use of cover in Arma 2 feels very real indeed.

Indeed, the sense of adherence to reality, the overall verisimilitude is painfully high, but it’s nevertheless consistently broken by all kinds of rough edges and randomness, particular in the behaviour of anything that isn’t a human-controlled entity. There’s a definite sense that the AI is teetering on the brink of madness, especially when you see tanks flailing about in front of rabbits. For the most part, however, it holds it together. An impressive feat, when you consider quite what it has to deal with. I can’t even imagine how you’d begin programming such a monstrosity.

Yet all this is preface, and almost irrelevant to the main engine of long term enjoyment. It takes multiplayer to really explain what the appeal of this game is about. From playing with a friend in the co-op campaign, right through to embarking massive 30-man operations, this is a game where multiplayer is king. I’ve had just a small taste of this so far, but it instantly banishes any idea that the huge and wide-ranging single player campaign is really a useful focus for any review of the game.

While the options for solo, single player gaming really are vast, it’s only when co-ordinating with other players that you really begin to see why this game’s predecessors took hold of people’s entire lives. Even with the few scenarios that come with Arma II, you’re able to play through dozens of hours of war in the Chernarus or island Ubtes theatres, with tank battles flattening entire towns. Many more scenarios are already being produced with that versatile editor.

What’s more, once you’re hooked up on voice comms you’re able to perform far more complex actions that you could hope to do with the AI, as you crudely thumb them around the map. Tactics become real, rather than implied or imagined. Board the helicopter, go in low to avoid anti-aicraft fire, bail out because you’re hit, regroup in woodland, hit the target, cripple enemy AA batteries, get picked up, head to the next waypoint – all splurging, organically, into your game. It’s enthralling stuff, and only possible because of other people. I wholly recommend the co-op missions over the versus type multiplayer too. Co-ordinating with other people to take on huge AI armies is awesome like little else.

Of course, like plenty of other games I’ve already sunk lifetimes into – aforementioned Quake III and Eve Online being acute examples – Arma II is a game that rewards practice and organised play. Dropping in to play a random bout of virtual paintball is okay for cheap kicks, but it can be monstrously frustrating. I suspect the real rewards are going to come from playing with practiced groups of players who actually attempt to deliver something approximating soldierly behaviour. That realisation, of course, adds an atmosphere of intimidating inaccessibility for anyone who isn’t being introduced to the game by friends. I think that barrier will remain, no matter how good the single player element of the game is. Making the leap beyond mere paddling in the shallows is going to take some gumption. It won’t be for most of us. I can see the appeal, now, but I am still hesitant.

Arma II game is already divisive: it was always going to be. It’s impossible to examine this game without seeing it as a kind of exemplar of some of the larger issues about what is good and bad about PC gaming: the unfinished code, the performance issues, the difficulty of breaking into established communities – all these things will push people away. But the sheer scope: the raw materials that BIS have forged for gamers to make their own entertainment, their own stories with. I can’t say that’s a bad thing.

What PC games are is a wide open landscape, and that monstrous, uneven terrain is only getting larger by the day. Thank fuck for this twisted little peninsula of realism, without it gaming would be a whole lot less interesting.

[Want to know about performance issues? The demo thread is here. Go take a look.]

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156 Comments »

  1. Aesops says:

    Good write up, I’m probably gunna pick it up after a few patches, but right now my plate is full.

  2. dishwasherlove says:

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s just unfortunate that BI can’t deliver such an epic game bug free and polished to perfection. But that’s not going to stop my buying and playing it, helicopters clipping through trees and flying jeeps are part of the hilarity that came part and parcel with the serious military atmosphere of OFP and ARMA, I don’t see why ARMA2 should be any different.

  3. Kommissar Nicko says:

    I’m on board.

    I hear that 1000-man AI battles are within the reach of the average man. I remember long hours painstakingly adjusting the “azimut” on a score of AI-controlled RPK gunners and lining them up in rows to blast the ever-loving shit out of each other in Operation Flashpoint only to run the damn thing and watch my poor 666mHz Xeon keel over with the sheer weight of it.

    This, on the other hand, sounds awesome.

  4. Nill says:

    I was really looking forward to this, but the demo just runs too poorly on my mid-range setup.

    Maybe something to return to in a year or two.

  5. Hunam says:

    I was really interested in buying it till I played the demo. I was a big fan of OFP back in the day, and played it to completion and spent far too many hours in the editor blowing things up. ArmA 2 on the other hand seemed like the same game with a lick of paint, almost. It all moves the same and handles the same. It even looks the same underneath, you now, if you just put the OFP tech forward a few years obviously. While none of that is bad, it’s just a little off putting, the worst is the AI by a long strech. They’ll get themselves killed all the time and when they don’t do that they complete and objective and then just give up and stand there. The missions where you weren’t in control in OFP worked where as far as I can tell from the demo of this, they don’t here, making much of the single player game from my assumption, not really worth it.

  6. psyk says:

    Fav moment so far slowly moving towards a town that needed to be cleared and hearing a chopper coming from behind, alt looking at the chopper while continuing to crawl forwards then instead of landing the 6 – 8 people inside parachute out probably to there doom, was fun to watch.

  7. Zaphid says:

    Nice review, although it isn’t game for me.

    OpF is still one of those games that carve their memories into your brain with hot knife. Getting shot in the field to the leg, just lying there, not being able to move and seeing an APC casually riding towards me and signalling my death. When you are dying and all you can think of is:”This is awesome!”, then yeah, the game can’t be bad.

  8. Jim Rossignol says:

    Hunam: there are bits of the single player game that are buggy, but as a whole it’s far superior to OpF’s campaign.

  9. psyk says:

    How is a game which is in a series of games being basically the same as the previous games a bad thing ive never understood that thinking. devs are screwed if they change to much and screwed if they dont.

  10. Bas says:

    This game needs a new UI badly. However, the shooting bits are great.

    My Core E6400 is struggling with Arma2, I guess I’m going to be needing a new PC this year. :(

  11. Hunam says:

    Jim: I’m just talking about the demo mission Trial by Fire, which I failed a grand 5 times. Only the first time was by my mistake of running around getting shot in the face. After I figured out how to not attract bullets I’d have no trouble killing the guys in the first village and keeping the squad alive, but as we approach the air strip they would just start running around out of cover and getting their head’s blown off whilst I’m doing what I’ve been told to. The isn’t much more frustrating that failing a mission multiple times when it’s not your fault.

    Any chance you’ll be giving us a feature in a few months time when they’ve had a chance to carpet bomb it with patches?

  12. Jim Rossignol says:

    I’ll definitely be following this for mods, patches, etc, so updates seem likely.

  13. Jon says:

    I finally got a chance to play this for a couple of hours over the weekend, and I’m blown away by it so far.

    It is definately the child of OpFlashpoint, with all the idiosyncracies you’d expect from it, but when it comes together, it’s huge amounts of fun.

    I think it says a lot about the feel of it that I’ve probably spent more time in the editor, playing with aircraft, then I have in the main campaign at the moment. They make so much more sense once you realise you can use a 360 controller for them, instead of a keyboard and mouse!

  14. Lars BR says:

    Speaking of buggy military games, no mention of Americas Army 3 so far, is that by policy?

  15. schurem says:

    I used to tell my squad to wait right here, on the reverse slope of a hill, and then rambo the real hard parts. Some things they are just too stupid to do.

  16. Jim Rossignol says:

    is that by policy?

    If by policy you mean vague disinterest, then yes.

  17. Jog says:

    Yes the SP campaign may be superior to OFP’s, but it was really short. When it ended I was like WTF ????? I was expecting some all out war between US and Russia, but nothing happened…

    Still it’s the best SP experience I’ve had in the last couple of years.

  18. Ian says:

    I couldn’t be happier that games like this exist and get made, but I don’t think I’d appreciate it enough if I ever managed to get through the bugs and difficulities of learning how to play the damn thing.

  19. MD says:

    Great review, it’s really refreshing reading a piece by someone who ‘gets’ it, but isn’t blindly infatuated with it. By ‘it’ I don’t mean Arma II specifically, but various niche or semi-niche gaming experiences — in this case the ‘hardcore’ multiplayer FPS. Too often it seems that reviews of multiplayer games are either quick-and-dirty critical examinations by writers whose interests lie elsewhere, or enthusiastic but unhelpful love-letters from fans.

  20. MrBejeebus says:

    My thoughts exactly on the game, after finishing the singleplayer feeling the game was good, but not great, i joined a few friends on a server and my god was there a difference, as soon as i spawned i had 20 people shouting at me to get in the plane that was taxiing across the runway, after managing to get in we flew to the nearest objective, theres nothing cooler than 20 people HALO jumping in a long line…

    Its best when everything goes wrong though, an unseen piece of AA can kill your whole team

  21. jatan says:

    bi seemed to of learned nothing and do not want to …i would rather play a ofp sequel with more convincing ai and fewer bugs and a solid engine (for gods sake sort the clipping) but the same graphics as old ofp ,,,that would be more impressive–bi created the crown and i suspect the market is too small for anyone to bother taking it from them (obviously it will not be code masters effort)… i suspect i will still give it a go or its sequels when my kids grow up and i have more time….at moment i am watching from the sidelines with envy…good write up..keep them coming as arm2 grows

  22. Mike says:

    I think you need a good community, not an experienced one. I played with nine friends last night. We’re by no means Delta Force – one player tried to land a helicopter in a forest to meet us up, alerting everyone in the vicinity to our presence and destroying the chopper – but it was still great fun, it still created genuine excitement and battle scenes that might have been scripted in other games. It’s stunningly good fun, and the realism isn’t omnipresent.

  23. Lack_26 says:

    I personally love the editor, I’m re-familiarising myself with scripting as well. I made a great mission the other day, a hot para-drop from 4 C-130s of men (of course I had to write/adapt the scripts first). So the forces land spread out in land infested with enemies, so you spend the first 15 minutes lost trying to link up with friendly forces. If you do take the objectives enemy forces will come to attack the newly seized objectives, so you fall back to a village. If the enemy keep coming (despite the 2 airstrikes you can call in) then the survivors can fall back for a helicopter evac. But of course that is over run as well.

    Oh yeah, I find turning the game to Veteran or expert, turn on Super AI and disable 3rd person and tactical view for Gods sake. But reduce friendly AI accuracy to about .4 and enemies to about 0.15. It’s great if you don’t have the GPS, only the compass and some Grid co-ordinates of your squad and you have to first find out where you are and then the correct heading to get to them. I reckon all those years in the scouting movement and a good sense of direction help.

  24. much2much says:

    I shoot ONE shot in the firearms tutorial and take out a target and the instructor tells me we will have to start again. Happens everytime…

    For a game where you will be traipsing around for ages just to find that when something happens its bugged I’m not real keen to waste my time until they can at least get simple bits like this fixed..

  25. Alex McLarty says:

    I think I might take a peek.

    I’ve been playing the BF2 mod Project Reality. Brings together the worst and best of playing online; at times, amazing squad play and real tactics, but coupled with serious anti-noob, anti-you-don’t-know-everything-get-off-our-fucking-server ‘tude!

  26. nichevo says:

    I think ArmA 2 (and its ancestors) works best with sweeping objectives. “Destroy this AAA and retreat to here.” Complete the mission however you like.

    What I’ve played so far of the ArmA 2 campaign is not leveraging this strength. Missions revolve around little details which can fail. Example: talk to this civilian to advance the plot. If he gets hit by a stray grenade, or worse, suicides by venturing too close to the roads populated by insane AI drivers it’s game over and you might have no idea why.

    I guess I’m trying to say that ArmA 2 is an open, unpredictable world where things can go wrong. It’s best to create scenarios where things going wrong add surprise and unforseen dilemmas rather than just game over screens.

    I’m certain that mission makers can do this. I’m just a little disappointed that BIS didn’t. (Perhaps the sales people had too much influence?)

  27. EBass says:

    A very fair write up of Arma2. I would have also emphasised BIS’ track record of supporting their games excellently and the unparallelled modding community.

  28. Xercies says:

    God damn this game is equally frustrating and good. The problem I have now is the bloody AI getting killed all the time and you failing the mission. Stuff i can’t control failing the mission for me is rubbish. Sure I’m usually rubbish at games and it takes a few tries to pass any given mission for me.

    I may try that Editor and wait for a patch/mod to take out the 1 kill equals fail.

  29. Chaz says:

    Co-op was where it was at for me in the original OpFlash. Fortunately the bunch of guys I found to play with were the antithesis of the groups that were forming serious military style units. We were all fairly casual gamers and didn’t take it very seriously, and we all had a great time playing OFP. Indeed most of us still game together today and we still have very fond memories of our OFP sessions.

    Unfortunately more than half of us no longer have the kind of rig required to run Arma2, which is a shame as it sounds like it’s managed to recapture the old magic of OFP. We’ll just have to hope the Codies effort on the 360 is OK, as I think that’s the one we’ll all be playing. Although it doesn’t sound like the Codies one will have quite the grand scope and vision of Arma2.

  30. Lack_26 says:

    Yeah, from what I’ve seen from OPF 2 it doesn’t seem to be nearly as good as ArmA II is.

    Also, I think RPS needs to do a small post on making the AI a bit less prone to sniping you at 2 clicks with an Ak SU. There’s a mod out there that reduces the Russian, Chekadki, CDF and NAPA guns accuracy. But the simplest way is to knock the AI accuracy in the difficulty level options panel right down, that makes the gun fights a lot more fun and there is a far lower hit ratio, making it a bit more realistic. I just want a mod that reflects the actual tactics of the Russian and Easten armies, i.e. get drunk run out of cover, fire of a full mag of AK on full auto and run back and hide under a truck until the get the courage to go again. Just see the Ossetia, Georgia war to see what I mean.

  31. Post Maker says:

    Right after reading “It is full of bugs”, I clicked on the “Read the rest of this story” link to see the review. Internet Explorer froze up, and then crashed.

  32. Dominic White says:

    I recall reading somewhere that BIS are a very small studio – about 30 people, total? If so, then that makes the ridiculous ambition and scope of their games all the more impressive, if they’re doing what devteams many times their size don’t dare to try.

    As has been said, the singleplayer is decent – probably better than OFP vanilla – but where the game shines is multiplayer. I was with my regular group last night, replaying again and again a brilliantly simple scenario:

    US forces (18 people max) have a truck and four armed humvees. They must follow the main road and escort the truck to the target town.

    Russian forces (12 people max) have a couple of satchel charges, two RPGs and are tasked with killing the truck.

    It is so simple. It was thrown together in the editor in half an hour. It is infinitely replayable and something can and will go wrong every time. The truck will get lost, one of the humvee drivers will barrel on ahead and manage to run over one of the ambushers by accident, the guy with the satchel charges will misclick and blow up half his team, etc etc.

    And that is one tiny unscripted scenario thrown together in no time, made into a massively replayable playground just by adding more players. Even better if they’re not the ultra-realism-loving tactical types, as there’s more room for hilarious fuckups.

  33. Slippery Jim says:

    Fair write-up, excellent read, too. People do seem to confuse their early disdain with ARMA2 for it being objectively bad. Actually, it is bad, very bad in some cases, but it’s also the best thing you’ll ever play.

  34. Jim Rossignol says:

    @Lack_26, afaik you can reduce the accuracy of enemy fire manually in the config files.

  35. Glove says:

    I always love the writing in RPS, this was an excellent example. I’m installing the demo as I write this, it really looks quite different from anything I’ve played.

  36. nine says:

    Thanks for this ‘review’. Please keep us up to date with bug-reducing patches for this game. I spent some time with the demo but it was too buggy for me to enjoy. It’s the sort of game I’d love to sink some time into though, so let us know when it’s better.

  37. HidesHisEyes says:

    I downloaded the demo, but finally it seems even a 256mb 8600M GS and a gig of my laptop’s ram running as video memory isn’t enough to run the newest games full stop. Playable settings = invisible foes and blurry everything. PLus the whole ‘turning head = blurred screen’ was making me quite unwell.

    That and you need a Good mouse. I couldn’t even do the firing range exercise with whatever (presumably very small) DPI this one does.

  38. Dominic White says:

    @Jim – you don’t have to touch a config file. You just go to the Difficulty menu and click ‘custom’ and the enemy/ally accuracy sliders are right there, along with a bout fifty other options.

  39. Jim Rossignol says:

    @ Dominic. So they are. Presumably that’s a recent addition to the code, as it wasn’t there when I was looking at the difficulty a week or so back.

  40. Markoff Chaney says:

    Excellent write up. Sums up exactly how I feel. I’ve still spent more time tweaking than playing, but what I’ve played feels more open and organic than anything I’ve done in years. The world truly feels alive, even if it somewhat fulfills my anticipation that the majority of (artificial) intelligence out there isn’t all that. You can replay the same mission 5 times and get 5 different outcomes, even if you attempt the same thing every time. I’ve still really only been playing SP. I haven’t had time to dedicate toward doing some good MP work yet. With my mum in town this week, it will be quite a bit of time before I can do so, sadly. The SP seems to really just be an introduction to the meat, as it should be in a game of this scope.

    She’s a terrible mess (the game, silly) and needs a lot more optimizing. Given their track record with ArmA, I have full confidence the game will run better over time. I also have no doubt the community is what will make this game. Already mods and maps and basic scenarios are popping up. People are converting their Co-Op missions they had made for ArmA and there’s a wealth of content to fool with, even if ACE and some of the other biggest boys haven’t gone yet. Great game. I can’t wait for it to get better, but it’s already miles ahead, in scope, immersion and freedom, than most any other games out there.

  41. Bogie says:

    Well I played the training missions and cannot complete them due to bugs. I jumped into a MP game and instantly got stuck on a tent I was trying to run around. I cannot configure the target button to my logitech joystick. There are far too many buttons that could quite easily be grouped together.

    I have put my copy on the shelf and may play it again after a few more patches.

    The main thing I have found is that I didn’t enjoy it. It just frustrated and infuriated me.

  42. dsmart says:

    Nice writeup Jiim and sums up my recent experiences perfectly.

    Considering issues like AI and pathfinding (AI jumping into jeep instead of chopper) and other mishaps, it is evident that they released this game ahead of time in order to beat OFP2 (and MW2) to market. And they’re going to pay for it. Especially since the other game is multi-console – but has to compete with MW2.

    My guess is that they’re not going to attract many (if any) new adopters and this game was primarily released for the fanatic fanbois who have put up with Arma1 over the years.

    They needed at least another six months to cook this. And judging by the obvious problems – and the littany of bug fixes in the three patches thus far – they knew that but chose to just ship it rather than continuing fixing a seemingly un-ending littany of bugs.

    This game’s release in this condition is yet another example of why PC gaming keeps getting a bad wrap and why most publishers won’t go near a title that isn’t multi-platform (unless it is a console platform). Oh well.

    Now we know why the console version was canned. No way in hell was this going to run on ANY console, let alone pass cert. For one thing, they ran out of buttons on page 1.

  43. Dominic White says:

    @Jim – Nope, it was there from the start. I bought the German version at V1.0, and it was there.

  44. Greg Wild says:

    I’ve found ArmA II to be an outstanding game, but as it stands, that’s only true when it works. I love it online… but it takes maybe half an hour to find yourself in a decent server. The single player campaign is one of the most intriguing in years… but I’ve found it impossible (or at the very least, entirely un-enjoyable) to fight past the bugs that begin to crop up in the mission “Manhattan”. As I said in my review, it’s basically a bloody brilliant game. It just doesn’t work yet.

    I actually fully intend to follow the game though. I know in 6 months to a years time, we’re going to have an utterly absorbing experience with ArmA II.

    What baffles me more than anything else is the fact it was brought forwards. A week wouldn’t have been enough, but it would have been something.

    Ironically though, despite the fact I can’t recommend people buy it in its current state, I can’t help but keep going back to it. Especially online – where AI issues aren’t always as important.

  45. RGS says:

    On paper this is pretty much a perfect game for me, as was the last one, but I find I just can’t keep playing it (or the original ArmA) for the following reasons:

    1. I just find it insanely difficult to aim (I play a lot of FPS’s, both single and MP and generally consider myself fairly good at them). Using iron sights or not, the mouse seems really laggy, or something… it’s just not quite right. I see a group of bad guys for e.g. – in any other game I’d have had them all no probs (they’re close together, weapons down and haven’t seen me), in this I’m lucky to take down more than the first one – in fact even if I didn’t ‘get them’ in another game I’d know it was my lack of skill/judgement/aim but here I feel cheated. I just can’t draw a bead on them quick enough or follow their movement accurately enough. Just the looking and aiming feels really clunky, like the way your weapon jerks around the screen even if you make the smallest movement without the ‘walk’ key pressed. This frustrating lack of control (which currently makes the combat feel really unsatisfying, even if the encounter is a success) is only made worse by the high difficulty, which otherwise I would be enjoying immensely.

    2. Performance, Resolution, blurriness – Even with all the all the post processing off it somehow manages to look blurry and feels sluggish to respond, even at 40+FPS @2560×1600. Vaseline on the screen effect… Maybe this is all tied in to the feeling of mouse lag, not sure.

    Anyway, be very interested to see if others are having similar issues. Just tried the demo so far. I will persevere as I say, on paper it’s a near perfect game for me (I tend to not like + play lots of games but the ones I do play – I love and play for years, H&D 2 being a good example). It’s the lag issue really, even hitting targets on the range is a chore :(. I put in a fair few hours with ArmA 1 trying, unsuccessfully to over come this very issue, I hope I have more luck here, but am not that optimistic.

    I can live with/work around the performance issues.

  46. Flappybat says:

    I’ve still got a lot of gripes carried over from Arma.

    The weapons are a bit improved and I do love the dual targetting system and optional deadzone but they still have a certain clunkyness to their animations. The LMGs and miniguns still feel a bit off with sounds that don’t match the firerate. A lot of the mounted weapons lack proper sights.

    All vehicles appear to be center pivot and if you run out of torque to go up a hill you just come to a dead stop with no wheel spin. No gearboxes either.

    Vehicle physics are bizzare. Tanks don’t seem to have any weight to them and can happily flip onto their sides or roofs. I flew a C130, the massive transporter plane, into a line of trees whilst failing to take off and it just stopped dead and fell to the ground. Same with helicopters. The game doesn’t even seem to care if you catch a blade on a solid object.

    Damage modelling is still bland. You can’t knock things out by shooting the engine block. Aircraft don’t lose engines, helicopters don’t lose tail rotors.

    Most of the systems are undermodelled. You’re lucky if you get one or two instrument panels on any vehicle and they are underfeatured. The Horizontal situation indicator in aircraft only functions as a basic compass. Where’s the thermal sights?

  47. foop says:

    I gave up on OFP because of the bugs, the final straw being my entire team leaping out of a flying helicopter on the way to a mission. I assume they thought we were already there, but we were still coming in to land.

    It’s nice to see they’re keeping the tradition alive.

  48. autogunner says:

    I played throught he demo mission 5 times and had a different experience each time, the most notable being when a sniper tied up the entire team on a fence 2 minutes in. just ordered the full game off amazon should be arriving tomorrow.

  49. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    I want to try, and I really do, but the whole thing is pretty intimidating.

  50. Fat says:

    I got this on release day and for the first 2 days it was fine. I could play single player stuff and played some MP campaign with friends.

    Then, on the 3rd day (dum dum dum!) it all started going downhill. My buddies started having crashes, graphical bugs, i also had bug where all the polygons seems to turn into something resembling ‘modern art’ when i zoomed my view in.

    The game would crash my friend’s graphics card and the newest drivers didn’t fix this (but doing some stuff mentioned on the A2 forums did eventually).

    We tried the ‘bad’ 1.02 patch that was released about a week ago, then reverted back to the 1.01 version that came on the DVD, neither fixed the problems.

    Then, finally, we manage to get all the problems sorted after much reading of forums and tweaking of drivers, etc. But not content with letting us play, the game has now decided that whenever we complete a mission on the MP campaign, that it isn’t going to go to the next level. It just keeps repeating the 3rd level over and over again.

    Honestly, i was sold on this game in the first couple of day… but all the cr*p i’ve been through to fix it has done my head in. I’ve had it since release day and still not managed to get past the 3rd/4th mission (the one after someone you know is shot, no spoiler) … and not for lack of trying!

    TLDR – Game wasn’t buggy, was fun. Then went buggy, still is, can’t play the game as levels keep looping.

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