Finding the Right Game : Arma 2 Edition

I’m always looking for games that can be played cooperatively because I play with a couple of grade school friends.

My friend Rich is a bit particular on what he plays.  He’s big into sims and could stare at blue sky in Flight Simulator X for hours…no joke.  Jim and I tend to prefer MMO’s which, by definition, are cooperative on a grand scale.  I’m a FPS lover as well and the Infinity Ward’s MW2 is, in my opinion, the gold standard.

In the past we’ve found common ground in a few games such as Tribes and Rise of Nations, both great games but a bit dated.  RoN is a sandbox game, Tribes is a futuristic FPS, MMO’s, sims…we’re gaming all over the map!

“Rich can stare at blue sky in Flight Simulator X for hours…no joke.”

So Valve was selling “Arma II” at 80% off yesterday.  Figuring  that, at $7.99, I couldn’t go wrong and even if I did it wasn’t a huge loss.  It was Steam so it was easy to buy and send to my gaming buddies so I went for it.  It’s also worth noting that Steam offers the expansion at 40% off, but as every good gamer should, I wanted to play this one before worrying about the expansion.  I’ve spent $50 on games I instantly hated, so this game was going to get a few mulligans before I stopped playing.

“It’s quite daunting looking at 7 scrolled pages of assignable functions.”

Later that night Jim and I were going through the tutorials and setting up the controls, which leads to my first complaint.  I’ve got a G13, which has a 24 buttons on it and they’re all assigned.  In fact, there are more commands here that are necessary and it’s quite daunting looking at 7 scrolled pages of assignable functions.  Assigning separate controls land, sea, and air vehicles is mind-numbingly painstaking and beyond my patience level.  Picking out the pertinent ones and assigning them no easy task, but I was finally able to get in and play!

This complexity of the control options is also apparent in the overall game play.  You can apparently drive, fly, fire, kill, everything…and I mean that literally.  The “Shoot tanks” tutorial wasn’t very clear and soon I was driving jeeps into the water and blowing up buildings.

Jim and I had the most fun running around in the woods shooting cows with anti-tank weapons.  (Note to the producers: Please patch in exploding cows!  Falling over when struck by a missile is UNACCEPTABLE!)

“Jim and I had the most fun around in the woods shooting cows with anti-tank weapons.”

That open world concept can also be distracting, as my last statement can attest to.  With our propensity towards MMO’s Jim and I were never really able to stay on mission.  This isn’t a polished game like MW2 or Black Ops…this is very much a simulation despite the addition of a somewhat boring storyline.

So, these mulligans are adding up eh?

My last issue revolves around the graphics.  The disparity between  the “High” and “Very High” video quality is astounding.  My GeForce 9800m prefers the former setting and everything looks like it’s from a Dire Straits video.  I don’t mind this so much but every single Arma 2 trailer contains footage that looks photo realistic but that’s not what I’m seeing.

“Everything looks like it’s from a Dire Straits video.”

On “Very High” the game is unplayable for me so maybe it’s time to get a new machine.  Other titles, more current than this 2009 release, run great on my machine so it’s either got awesome graphics or needs better coding.

So…all that and I’ve only played it for a couple of days.  I probably should have played the game a bit more but these are obstacles I’m running into already, so they’re worth noting.  If I’m able to get through the campaign mode I’ll make sure to update!

-Eric

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