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The Good Parts
Arma 2 is as immersive an experience as you can find for the PC and every bit as entertaining as Battlefield, Brothers in Arms and Call of Duty. Taking a helicopter ride with your four man team just to watch the world fly by is an amazing visual experience. You wander through a forest to stumble upon a tank battle in full swing. Blunder upon an insurgent camp site while on a routine patrol because you're busy enjoying the wonderful scenery included in the scenes. It's real easy to forget where you are and what you're doing, which will get you killed quickly. In this game you only get to make one mistake because the realism is taken to a higher level, which means one bullet can kill you.
All the useful and meaningful actions have been beautifully mapped to all the number keys in Arma 2; every number brings up a menu, enabling you to set things like your squad's combat state or battle formation. You can split your team into color coded groups for easier control, and every menu allows you to control additional aspects of the battle. This system of menus works seamlessly to help you control every action of the battle and give you unprecedented control over the battle occurring on the screen. Find out how the rest of the game stacks up in this Arma 2 review.
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The Bad Parts
Arma 2 is an impressive video game to play but the menu system interface is a slow and ponderous beast that takes getting use to. It takes a lot of time, patience, and effort to become comfortable with the command system implemented, but when you do this game becomes a pleasure to play. The system needs tweaking to speed it up and make it more intuitive in situations requiring quick thought. In these situations you can't be spending time thinking about the buttons you need to push to get the menu you want.
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The Game Graphics
Arma 2's amazing graphical presentation is in the same league as Killzone 2, with battlefield effects that will have you instinctively ducking your head as you slowly make your way around the battlefield. Arma 2's immersive environments grabbed me by the senses and gave me a good shake as I was immediately thrown into the action to fend for myself. In command of my own four man recon team creeping through the darkest night you can imagine. We crouched as we ran through a sleepy village as we searched for a hidden transmitter while hoping we would get out of this situation without seeing the slightest suspicious movement.
The details and textures in the environments will have you staring in awe as you watch smoke drift across the battlefield. The faces of the characters are amazingly expressive. I could see fear, humor, anger, and compassion in the faces of the characters in Arma 2, which really helped to connect me to the story and feelings of the characters in the game.
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The Story Line
You play Arma 2 as the commander of a four man recon squad undertaking a series of missions that you'll receive from superior officers. You'll be given a number of different objectives to complete that you can do when you want to. The mission objectives you're given can be pretty general, so this gives you room to use your own initiative, and improves the entertainment level of playing Arma 2. You'll be asked to patrol a wooded area looking for enemy camps and the main camp of a local warlord in the politically unstable state of Chernarus. Communicate with your commander as you crunch enemy soldiers beneath the tracks of your tank or listen to a commander as he explains the situation and how you can help his men.
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Sounds in the Game
Arma 2's sound track provides amazing energy to the game play by adding pace and energy using upbeat tunes during the intense battles. At the same time the intensity of the music decreases during the less intense parts to help provide a nice pace and flow to the game.
The sound effects will have you jumping in your seat and ducking your head as explosions rock your senses, bullets fly by your head, and you instinctively take cover at the slightest sound. Branches crack as you move through the forests, combat sounds increase in intensity depending on your distance from the effect, and you'll be stopping at times to listen for audible clues to help you understand the environment around you better.
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Arma 2 was a pleasure to play on my Gamer Paladin, but on a less robust computer, I started to notice the frame rate would dip to around 20 fps. In addition, inconsistencies started to appear in the game play, as soldiers on both sides would occasionally freeze in place, vehicles would crash into one another, and animations would move awkwardly. Even with these problems the fighting was engaging, satisfying, and extremely entertaining.
Arma 2 made me think and focus at all times when I was playing because I knew if I got hit once, the game was over. This level of realism can be really frustrating for a casual gamer, but veteran and hardcore gamers will be smiling as they play. You need to think like a field commander, prioritize all your actions, stay calm and under control, and use patience as a weapon.
Arma 2 also includes an amazing game editor that allows you to create custom missions for both single and multiplayer fun anywhere on the massive map. This editor is the real meat of the Arma 2 experience and months from now hardcore gamers will probably have created an amazing amount of material to try.
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The Final Word
Arma 2 can stand toe-to-toe with Call of Duty or any of the present crop of modern combat simulators, and give as good as it takes. A true challenge for hardcore gamers, Arma 2 can provide endless entertainment to the hungry fanatic, but casual gamers will find this game too hard unless they are willing to spend a lot of time to learn how to play this video game.