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Have you played... ArmA 3?

Boots on the ground

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

I've long possessed a fondness for Bohemia Interactive's military simulators, ever since Operation Flashpoint invaded my hard-drive back in 2001. But ArmA 3 is the first Bohemia game since OpFlash to successfully modernise that that initial concept, striking a pleasing balance between ambition, accessibility, and stability of play.

There are so many ways to experience ArmA 3 that its hard to summarise in a handful of words. Its multiplayer alone is hugely diverse, ranging from online military exercises to full-blown roleplaying servers like Altis Life. You can team up with friends and act as a GM over your own war via the Zeus DLC, and even assume the role of a humanitarian organisation with the recently launched Laws of War update.

The single player, meanwhile, is the strongest campaign Bohemia has put together since OpFlash. It got somewhat overlooked because of the way the developers released it, in three separate parts after the game itself was officially launched. Combined together, however, it makes for an impressively varied introduction to ArmA that sees the player defending a US military base from a large-scale surprise attack, joining up with guerrilla fighters in a series of open-ended mid-game missions, before concluding with a counter-assault on the Mediterranean island of Altis.

Even if you're not interested in waging war, Bohemia's virtual landscapes are wondrous things to behold. Indeed, there's something surprisingly relaxing, almost Proteus-like, about the sound of your boots scuffing against the undulating ground as you quietly chase the game's azure horizon en-route to you next objective. ArmA 3 doesn't quite succeed in purging the clunk that has harried all of Bohemia's games, but it's a splendid military toybox regardless.

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