If you've put off getting Armed Assault from BI Studios this long, now is the time to rise up and buy your copy.
Armed Assault: Combat Operations is available in stores across the United States, or you can buy the US version (version 1.06) online as a digital download directly from Atari.
Take command of a huge arsenal of military grade weapons and vehicles in the most realistic military simulation ever!
ArmA: Combat Operations is based on its European counterpart, ArmA: Armed Assault, and features new upgrades such as:
- A new single player mission with the A-10 Warthog
- An all new gallery featuring every weapon and vehicle with various specifications, and even the option to try out weapons on a shooting range
- Brand new never-seen-before cutscenes
Version 1.06 (US version) screenshots:
Tactical Gamer Armed Assault Servers:
A message from our Armed Assault Game Officer:
"Tactical Gamer is proud to continue its support of Armed Assault (ArmA) as the U.S. release of the game arrives. We'll update our ArmA servers to the latest version as soon as the patch is available. Once that happens, please join us for our weekly scheduled events (Veteran Mode Night, Weekly Coop Event) or for "pick-up" games as often as you can. We try to maintain a high level of game play, so be sure to read our rules, announcements, and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) if you're not familiar with them. See you in-game!"
Armed Assault v1.05 Review
I remember the first time I tried to play Operation Flashpoint (OFP) all too well. I attempted the same single player mission at least 5 times, and died very quickly in nearly every engagement. The enemy was difficult to locate and usually killed me with one shot before I ever found out where he was hiding. I liked first person shooters, or more appropriately, tactical shooters, but OFP was just to dang hard for me to enjoy. Feeling defeated, I tossed the game in my closet, where it joined a number of other titles that will likely never again see the light of day.
A few months and a few patches later, word was getting around on how great this game was. I was older and wiser (if only by a year) so I decided to try again. Within 3 months I was loving it, and within 6 months I had declared it my all time favorite computer game. I played it constantly- single player, multiplayer, I loved it all. Sure, it still had problems, and the super enemy AI was still, well, super. But, as a true Tactical Gamer, I learned to adapt.
Thousands of add-ons and dozens of total conversions created by dedicated and talented players kept the game fresh and new. Their dedication still amazes me. Total conversions like the excellent FFUR mod brought new life to an old favorite for months and months. I couldn't get enough of what OFP had to offer.
So, why am I talking about Operation Flashpoint when Iím supposed to be reviewing Armed Assault? Good question! The answer is that I don't think you can understand or appreciate the present if you donít know and respect the past. For us Tactical Gamers, OFP is/was the pinnacle of tactical shooters. Armed Assault is its unofficial little brother.
Armed Assault, in my opinion, is simply Operation Flashpoint remade with new technology, updated graphics and sounds, new and improved interface, and a new and improved multiplayer control scheme. Bohemia Interactive Studios canít call it a sequel for legal reasons, but to us gamers, Armed Assault will always be Operation Flashpoint 2.
Iím going to start this review of Armed Assault with something completely different than the usual game review. I am going to start with the mission editor. Why? The answer is that just like in Operation Flashpoint, the editor for Armed Assault is the secret to this game's success. Armed Assault has the most detailed, intuitive mission editor Iíve ever seen. You can do almost anything with this editor. The editor for Armed Assault is essentially a virtual sandbox. You take a piece of land, place your units (both friend and foe), assign waypoints, actions, combat modes, and reactions. Then, you play with your masterpiece. With a little bit of research, particularly with the many script commands, you can create a highly detailed mission. The mission editor alone would be worth your money. The editor allows you to design your own combat computer game.
Letís not forget the popular ďadd-onsĒ that have been created for Armed Assault, as they are one of the many features associated with the game. A hundred or so are out for Armed Assault already, and there are plenty more to come. Add-ons are made and shared by talented artist/programmers in our gaming community. There are new add-ons being released daily that include new weapons, vehicles, aircraft, armor units, skins, and terrain. Almost anything in Armed Assault can be manipulated or improved by add-ons.
So, with the mission editor and the hundreds, if not thousands of ďwill beĒ released add-ons for Armed Assault, you can see the potential for this game. But donít worry folks, BI Studios decided to share some free single player missions, some multiplayer missions and a story driven campaign with the mission editor. (Joking!)
Installation and Requirements:
This review is based on the UK (English) import of the game, which was version 1.04 at release but was patched to version 1.05 Shortly thereafter. The majority of this review is based on version 1.05 of the UK import. In the US, the game is published by Atari and due out May 1st 2007. The US version will have the A10 Warthog and a sample mission included with its release.
The game came in the typical DVD package that I prefer over the American boxes. It fits on one DVD, comes with a 40 page instruction book and a command list card.
The minimum requirements for the game are a 2GHz CPU, 512 MBís of RAM, a video card that supports Shader Model 2.0 (not the 3.0 thatís required by some other newer games), 128 MB of video RAM, and approximately 3 gigs of hard drive space. Like most PC games, the recommended requirements are usually the must have components to get enjoyment out of the game. The recommended requirements for the game are a 3GHz CPU, 1 gig of RAM, and a video card that has 256 MB of video RAM.
Yes itís true, you need a pretty good machine to run this game. I for one am glad. I believe in making games for the current high end or near future systems. Most tactical minded gamers have a decent machine with enough power to run their favorite games with a good balance of detail and framerate.
My system specifications are listed at the end of this review. I run all my games at [email protected], with 4 times AA on. I have been averaging around 40 frames per second overall with a jump, depending on location and activity, that goes from 20 to 60 frames per second. Not too bad, and definitely do-able for my needs.
Installation was easy. Put the DVD in, it auto starts, click install. It takes up about 4.6 GB of hard drive space. During installation, youíre asked to type in your key code. Securcom is used as copy protection for the 505 UK import version.
You start the game and a nice menu screen appears. Your version number is on the bottom left. You should already have a profile named after your computer. You can click that to change, add, or delete a user profile. You then want to take a trip to the options screens. The typical options are available: video, audio, game play, and control windows. You have a lot of keys for infantry, vehicles, and air units. Not generally a problem, but us left handed players usually have to do a lot of reprogramming and re-learning of the keys. A game like this needs all of those keys and commands. Thatís why itís a virtual battlefield.
As a single player you have three choices from the start. (Not counting what you could do with the editor.)
Armed Assault comes with a series of 6 missions just for familiarization and learning of the game. It begins with the obstacle course, then the weapons range, then to the armored vehicles, then to commanding of troops. It ends with two helicopter tutorials. They are all worth doing and are very well done, except for the leadership mission which is known to have a bug where it doesn't work right every time. (Your troops wonít fire on the targeted car that you instruct them to shoot.)
You have a selection of 12 missions that you can jump right into, kind of. The first four are open and unlocked and you have to complete them to unlock the others. I personally disagree with this. I hate having to unlock stuff in computer games unless itís a campaign and/or a story mode-type situation. The missions are pretty good, and demonstrate the capabilities of the game, but can be hard at times, and often unrealistic. They usually place you alone or with a small group of fellow AI soldiers against outrageous odds, without proper support or equipment. You will be re-doing these missions a lot before you finally get lucky and succeed in one.
Armed Assault comes with a single player campaign. You go from start to finish, unlocking other missions and other story events on the way. The campaign is well done and has a few new features, like the ability to pick which direction you go in the story. Say for instance, you might get an opportunity to play as a sniper and ambush an infantry convoy en-route to reinforce parts of the battlefield. You can play the mission, making the campaign easier later on, or skip that option and have to deal with more infantry later. It kind of gives the campaign a dynamic feeling to it, though it really is not all that dynamic. There are a lot of rough spots in the campaign, but it is completely doable. Youíre brought along through the story in a series of cut scenes, most of which are done really well. There are minor annoyances and problems with the campaign, such as being unrealistic or too hard. Iíll let you learn that for yourself.
Armed Assault, just like Operation Flashpoint, has a killer multiplayer module. Armed Assault even improves on the multiplayer experience. Itís better because the boys over at BI Studios listened to the OFP gamers' complaints and fixed some of the things in Armed Assault.
The biggest change is that you can now join and leave a server as needed. You once were able to pick and change your weapons on the lobby screen in OFP, but it doesnít appear that you can do that in Armed Assault. You usually can once the game starts, either at a vehicle or a supply box. But, thatís not guaranteed.
There is a bug in the game that sometimes puts two joining players into the same body. It can be a pain, and hopefully will be identified and addressed in a later patch. It doesnít happen all the time, but I have heard more than one gamersí complaint on this.
Multiplayer continues to be a great experience, especially if you game with people you know and trust, like my brothers and sisters here at Tactical Gamer. As usual, if you join an open server your experience will be drastically different than a gaming community server or a clan server. If you are a member of TG, I highly recommend playing on our own dedicated server. There is usually one person in charge who can give the orders through a series of menus, or they can use the in game VOIP. The VOIP has worked fine for me, but a number of my fellow gamers have reported problems with it. Thatís why we still continue to use Teamspeak. Maybe thatís something else that can be addressed in a future, sure to be released patch. VOIP supports all channels, team channels, squads, and vehicle channels.
Graphics and Sounds:
The graphics in Armed Assault are amazing. Everything from the models, the animations, the grass, the sky, the moon, and of course the explosions are beautiful. All this beauty comes at a price though, and that price is low frame rates on some machines. Armed Assault has some unique features, like real constellations and tides. You can also see the waves hitting up on the rocks or flowing over the beaches. Armed Assault has some incredible lighting effects too, using the HDR lighting effect. The sun shines into your eyes and the eyes of your enemies which makes planning an attack or being involved in a firefight something to plan out first. The landscape and battlefield are an incredible sight to see. Bugs fly around your head, birds fly over head, trees sway, and buildings collapse. Yes, fire a few shots of SABOT at a building and it will crumble to the ground with a billow of smoke rising into the air. There is some incredible stuff to see and do, and it also has a tactical purpose.
There is one graphics issue, in my opinion, but itís not too much of a big deal. When your character runs across the battlefield the movement seems to be a little animated, (which really it is.) I also thought the first person view was a little too close to the ground. I mean that I feel that Iím about 4 or 5 ft tall, instead of the 6 ft tall man that I am.
The sounds in Armed Assault are sufficient, but not on par with the visuals of the game. There are a few known problems with sounds stopping in game. The sounds are okay, but the realism and placement of some of the sounds seems questionable. Many times I heard a convoy coming from a certain direction, only to learn the convoy really wasnít moving. Or, there have been a few times where I heard a sound that seemed to be coming in on my side, only to learn it wasnít accurate and the enemy came up in another direction. The sounds in armed Assault are doable, but I really do hope they fix the above mentioned problems and fine tune some of the other sounds and angle/directions of sounds.
The interface is fantastic. There are plenty of keys to remember, but thatís typical for this type of game. The front menus are well done and the in game screen is clean and easy to read. As a leader you control your men with your F keys, and then issue orders via a menu selection screen. If youíre an infantry man, then youíre on foot and usually in first person view just like any other tactical shooter. You also have the option of moving to an over the shoulder third person view. If youíre in command, you have a third tactical view option that puts the camera even higher, so you can see more of the battlefield and your men. It's a great view for taking screenshots, but it's hard to battle from there. All three views are easy to switch back and forth to. Of course, you also have your iron sight view and/or your weapons optic sights view. This gives you the best image for sighting in and taking out targets.
If youíre in a vehicle, you can drive or ride from the cockpit view where you see all your gages, and drive like youíre in the truck, or armor vehicle. If youíre in an armor unit, then your field of view is small, and more realistic. The interiors are not complete or realistic, but thatís not the purpose of this game. You could also move to an over the shoulder view of your vehicle, or the tactical view.
Itís the same with the helicopters and aircraft in Armed Assault;. You have the cockpit view, which is pretty well done. You also have the third person and tactical view. It isnít easy flying in tactical view though.
A big kudos to BI Studios for being the first, I believe, to implement Naturalpoints TrackIR support in Armed Assault. The TrackIR was mainly used for flight sims and then race sims. It is a welcome addition to Armed Assault. Not only does it work with vehicles and aircraft, but it also works with your infantry unit. Sure, it takes some getting used to, but after a few hours it will seem right, and after a few days using the device/program, youíll be glad to have it. It will feel more natural, and realistic. For some reason, it doesnít work when in a tank. I would have liked to unbutton as the commander, and be able to look around the battlefield while we continued forward.
Joysticks and flight sticks are supported in Armed Assault, but in limited form. I donít know if it can be adjusted, changed or added in the options, but I know that my twist stick doesnít work the rudder as I hoped, and I havenít been able to get the throttle to work either as the throttle for the plane, or a cyclic for the helicopter. It would be nice to have better support for HOTAS and flight sticks.
The Achilles heel of all tactical shooters, in my opinion, is artificial intelligence. Armed Assault is no exception. There does seem to be a slight improvement over OFP, but the friendly AI still get in the way, and donít seem to be able to do much without your detailed control or input. I have noticed my fellow troopers walking in my line of fire, moving out of formation, or exposing themselves and getting themselves, or worse, the whole squad killed. You have to keep a sharp eye on your men, and constantly give them orders to fall back in formation, or to go prone. Nonetheless, the enemy AI continues to be incredibly accurate with their sight and, more importantly, their trigger finger.
I really donít think AI is ever going to be up to par for computer gaming needs. Fortunately, the newest computer games, including Armed Assault, are doing a better job than in the past. More work needs to be done but I canít pretend to understand how AI programming works in a computer game. I know that if I shoot at an enemy squad in Armed Assault, most of the time they hit the dirt and go prone, yet my guys donít seem to know to do that without explicit directions.
The AI drivers still act like they broke into the wine cellar and consumed a few bottles before the mission. It is best to always try and drive yourself. The AI doesnít understand basic stuff like hull down positions or getting out of an ambushed kill zone. Again, you have to control them to keep you and your men alive.
It's simple, folks. Operation Flashpoint is arguably one of the top ten PC games in computer gaming history, and Armed Assault continues down the same path of its predecessor. If you are any type of tactical shooter fan, or a virtual battlefield fan, then donít pass on Armed Assault.
Armed Assault is user friendly, and has a fantastic game editor. The following for this game is large enough that is has the potential to be just as big as OFP, if not bigger. More add-ons, more units, and more missions will come- Iíd be willing to wager a pay check on it.
Armed Assault looks good and sounds good, but it's not perfect. BI Studios seems to be dedicated to this game, though. I feel more patches and support will come in due time. (Probably official add-ons, too!)
Plenty of action is included in the single player game, but the highlight and lifeblood of Armed Assault is the excellent multiplayer content. A few minor bugs can be found here and there, but I am fully confident that these issues will be identified and addressed by the BI Studios team.
My simple conclusion: If my wife told me I was only allowed to keep one game and had to sell the rest, Armed Assault would be the keeper. I really believe that Armed Assault will be my main squeeze for the next 3 to 5 years.
My Computer Specs:
Dell XPS Gen 4
2 gigs of DDR2 ram
Raedon X1950X video card, with 512 MBís of video ram
SoundBlaster Audity 2
2x250 GB Hard drives.
Windows XP Media Edition