Wot I Think: Army Of The Czech Republic

By Tim Stone on October 3rd, 2012 at 8:00 pm.

“6 O’CLOCK. ONE MAN’S VIEWS. ON LATEST ARMA 2 DLC. CLOSE.”

“READER. CHANGE STANCE TO. CURIOUS.”

“READER. GO TO THAT. JUMP. 6 O’CLOCK.”

The above preamble is positively verbose compared to the campaign intro in this official Arma 2 add-on. ACR bayonet-prods you into its 8-mission centrepiece without stopping for anything as conventional/useful as a cut-scene or tranche of back-story text. Consequently, you find yourself scouring the hills and valleys of a vaguely familiar European map for two war criminals with little idea of a) where you are, or b) which war’s death throes you’re being asked to hasten.

Rough edges like this blemish the essentially likeable ACR in numerous places.

‘Silver Lion’, like many BIS-produced campaigns, provides some gripping moments, some gloriously unpredictable skirmishes, but if you can run, gun, drive and fly your way through it without encountering at least one broken event trigger, poorly communicated objective, or eyebrow-elevating premise then you’re a jammier git than I.

None of the mission concepts are less plausible than the first. Those two war crims are so important, the top brass have sent you out to apprehend them with nothing but a Land Rover and three comrades for company. Between you and a successful outcome are a rash of rebel camps and a fleet of roving Hilux technicals. At some point, you’re almost certain to find yourself cowering behind a bullet-riddled tree wondering why your bosses insist you push on unassisted despite the fact that you’ve lost all your men and are now travelling about in stolen Skoda saloon.

With a fraction more thought and effort – a few extra lines of radio dialogue – the Herculean task could have been explained and justified – mild resentment towards sadistic scenario designers transformed into righteous anger towards incompetent leadership or unreliable local allies.

More troublesome than the sometimes dubious mission concepts and poorly translated briefings are the moments when mission scripts accidentally discharge weapons into their own feet.

In one extremely moody and original outing, you’re tasked with rescuing civilians from a flooded city. Cruising down streets transformed into canals by an incontinent river, all the time scanning rain-lashed rooftops for waving figures, is one of the most atmospheric things I’ve ever done in a BIS game, but when I found myself totally unable to persuade the last castaway into my boat, immersion (metaphorical and, sometimes, literal) rapidly turned to exasperation.

On another occasion, I lost three hours of painstaking progress after two escorted ambulances refused to trundle over a hidden script pressure-plate but did, ten confused minutes later, trigger an instant save-eradicating restart after straying out of an approved mission zone. Frailties like this simply aren’t good enough, not even in an £8 add-on.

What ‘Silver Lion’ lacks in robustness and realism, it partially makes up for in variety. The string (oh, for a knot or tassel!) of scenarios offers a good mix of desert and European locales, and foot and vehicular action. The flight-shy may resent the fact that they’re forced to undertake a Hind and an L-159 sortie (a more obliging dev would have provided ground-based alternative routes to subsequent chapters) but with cheats and an ‘easy’ difficulty setting a click away, there’s really no excuse for defeatism.

Ask me in a year or two what I recall of ACR, and I’ll almost certainly tell you about the section where you venture out at night with a torch, assault rifle and German Shepherd to capture alive a pair of fleeing fugitives. The dog follows scent trails, barking when it gets close to its quarry. A non-lethal burst of 5.56mm usually persuades an illuminated hostile the game’s up. Great stuff, even if it is all over in less than 15 minutes.

I may also remember an outing that involves sneaking close enough to a forest-screened enemy base to laser-designate targets for a waiting MLRS vehicle. The verdant ghillie suit. The stop-start caterpillar impersonations. The dodged patrols tracked by unwavering crosshairs. The undodged patrols neutralised with silenced CZ 75 rounds… A pretty traditional OFP/Arma scenario concept, but pleasing nonetheless.

I’ve no idea how much work goes into an Arma 2 map, so I’m not sure whether to feel short-changed by ACR’s examples. Both of the main venues appear to be modified forms of familiar Chernarusian and Takistani terrains. Structures have been removed or switched here and there – in the case of the ‘Bystrica’ map, a coastline transformed into a riverbank – but, any reasonably attentive Arma 2 vet is likely to find themselves déjà vuing on a regular basis.

In terms of weapons and vehicles, ACR’s additions are, thankfully, less indebted. As well as producing the best beer in the world (“6 O’CLOCK. BEER DEBATE. CLOSE.”) and some rather glorious glassware, the Czechs are also pretty talented when it comes to designing and manufacturing bullet dispensers.

The Bren gun? Czech. Scorpion SMG? Czech. The Enforcer? Czech (Manufactured under licence by the Axon Research Corporation). Two of their latest exports – the CZ-805 assault rifle and the CZ Scorpion Evo SMG - are at the heart of most of the firefights in this add-on. Available in several different forms and blessed with range-collected audio, they’re perfect for making those little red holes in Bad People that games like Arma 2 insist on.

Completing the Czech arsenal are the forerunners to the CZ-805 and Evo, the vz. 58 and original Scorpion, plus a hunting rifle, MG and a much-copied pistol. If it’s Moravian and murderous, there’s a good chance it’s in the game.

The most useful of the new AFVs wear Czech colours but have Austrian and German origins. The Pandur II, an 8WD Stryker-like APC, and the ATF Dingo, an armoured Unimog, come with devastating remote-controlled turret weapons (a 30mm cannon and a grenade launcher, respectively) but thanks to the series’ crude physics, vehicle audio, and armour simulation, are not machines you’ll lose your heart to. Fingers-crossed, Arma 3 does a better job of simulating the steel beast side of things.

For similar reasons, as welcome as they are, you won’t catch me lionising the Mi-24 gunship or L-159 ALCA jet. The glow of the Hind’s dials during nocturnal sorties? Nice. The fact that my silicon gunner appears to be asleep most of the time? A reminder I really must return to Digital Integration’s Hind now a group of clever meddlers have figured out how to get it running on modern rigs.

With its ramshackle story, non-existent characterisation, and minefield of faulty mission triggers, ACR could be regarded as a bit of a disappointment. As usual, you’ve got to be willing to incorporate the new content in self-made challenges – or wait until modders do the incorporating – to really get the most out of it.

I’m sure someone will eventually build a story sequence around Mission 8′s superb flooding trick. This flawed but consistently entertaining adjunct needed something more than Czech-ness to bring it together, and a sodden campaign combining combat and humanitarian missions might have been just the thing.

“2. ENGAGE THAT. FLOATING COW CARCASS. 50 METERS.”

“3. BOARD THAT. SWAN-SHAPED PEDALO.”

“4. CHANGE OUT OF. WET SOCKS. BEFORE YOU CATCH. YOUR DEATH.”

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22 Comments »

  1. Unaco says:

    Obligatory: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?12-Arma-Forum

    We in ARPS and associated groups haven’t actually started integrating any of the ACR content into our sessions… not sure where we stand on it, actually. Because, unlike PMC or BAF Lite, the Lite component (it being available for MP use, even if you don’t own it) isn’t an automatic thing, it goes against our credo of not requiring anything from the user in regards to mods etc. We do have plenty of other coopertaive and adversarial, tactical based shenanigans though.

  2. Hoaxfish says:

    I might Cz-Czech it out

  3. Astroman says:

    The atmospheric humanitarian missions sound great. These days there aren’t many disaster scenarios that don’t involve zombies.

    But having encountered the broken event triggers and poorly communicated objectives of Op. Arrowhead. No. No more of that.

  4. simoroth says:

    I had to use the console 4 times to complete missions. On another, the game crashes every time I end, so I also have to use the console to unlock the next in the campaign. All the missions that do work are badly paced, uninspired and lack tactical or game play interest.

    The “google translate” mission briefings are also rather insulting for the price tag. Expecially the bit where you are told to sit and wait for the Pandurs, when indeed they meant ENTIRELY THE OPPOSITE.

    I guess no one buys this stuff for the campaign, but most the new content is also broken. The vehicles are buggy and incorrectly set up and there’s nothing here that the modding scene hasn’t already done better.

    BI should do the right thing and apologise for this utter pile of shite and give out some refunds. This casts a shadow on whether I’ll be purchasing ARMA 3 now.

  5. Prokroustis says:

    Mr. Stone is not nearly as informed about his beers as he is about his wargames.

    • Premium User Badge

      Rinox says:

      Maybe he will rectify his error when they make a Belgian army game

      …so yeah, probably never.

    • Velko says:

      Lies. There is no better lager than Staropramen Premium.

  6. sinister agent says:

    I like how it looks like the man in the fourth picture looks like he’s put his helmet on wrong, and is too stubborn to admit it.

  7. B1A4 says:

    Ah, CZ-805 Bren, best assault rifle in the universe (as most expensive).

    I’d love if this DLC was about killing some corupted generals and ministers in theirs mansions and châteaus

    That would be real story about Czech Army

  8. Drake Sigar says:

    Whelp, that’s unfortunate but not very surprising.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Shame – I quite liked the British, PMC and Arrowhead add-ons, and found them to be mostly stable.

  10. wodin says:

    Tim, did you get my email? Call me stupid. Really am sorry about the mix up mate.

  11. DogKiller says:

    Hopefully they’ll fix it up a bit. It’s almost part of the experience of a BIS product now, trying to play it with lots of bugs. Somehow, despite all that was wrong with it, I managed to enjoy the retail unpatched version of ARMA2 for some time. I guess that’s a testament to the game’s brilliance. Just no more baddies in tracksuits like Behind Enemy Lines.

  12. Snuffy the Evil says:

    A hate this expansion because a significant chunk of the content isn’t even new. You mentioned the Chernarus/Bystrica resemblance already, but did you know that the Dingo is just a simple reskin of an existing mod?

    http://forums.bistudio.com/showthread.php?135429-Army-of-the-Czech-Republic-DLC&p=2228734&viewfull=1#post2228734

    I frankly wouldn’t be surprised if the Pandur was also a reskin, or if the weapons already exist in some pack. I know BI often hires prominent modders, but it’s still indicative of lazy craftsmanship. The Land Rovers are the same from BAF, except green. The maps are Chernarus trimmed down with some added objects. The Takistan map is literally named “Takistan Cut-out” and considering how the DLC requires Combined Ops the map is completely redundant.

    Don’t buy this DLC. Save ten bucks and instead mess with your monitor’s color settings to make everything a more vibrant shade of green.

    • Latterman says:

      Either they bought the model from the modder or he gave it to BIS for free, nothing shady about that. It might help reading the entire thread that you linked.

      • Snuffy the Evil says:

        “I know BI often hires prominent modders, but it’s still indicative of lazy craftsmanship”

  13. dejoh says:

    Hey, new weapons,new vehicles I’m a happy camper. Just use thermal in the Pandor, ya can’t go wrong. Even wasted a couple of bunnys.

  14. Jimbo says:

    OH NO! “WARFACE”. IS DOWN!

  15. soldant says:

    A BIS game with a broken campaign? No surprises here!

  16. asshibbitty says:

    The first screenshot looks like those music videos where video feedback was used to make multiple images of the same person.