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#2107788 - 12/03/06 02:13 PM My Armed Assault review  
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I posted this review for the guys over at the Battlefront.com forum, I thought some of you might probably be interested as well.

Part I

I'm currently playing with the german version, patched to version 1.01 which supposedly improved performance and fixed several bugs/issues.

My system: AMD 2600+, 1 Gig RAM, NVIDIA 7600GS, Win XP SP2, system and drivers up to date. All screenshots were done at 1024x768, all settings "low".

The game comes on a DVD with SECUROM copy protection. The manual contains 35 pages of game-related content and covers the most important features and that's it. You'll probably read through it once.

The first thing that I noticed was that the README file that was displayed after installation was in czech. Uhm.. since my czech is a bit rusty I decided to skip reading it and boot up the game instead.

The training missions offer you the possibility to try out different weapons on a shooting range and teach you the basics of squad management and helicopter flying. Those who are familiar with OFP will quickly recognize the similarities to this game. In fact, the controls including the squad management are pretty much the same.

The campaign is about a fictional island that is divided into a democratic South, supported by the US and a communist North (sounds familiar, eh?). The island is about 400 square km large, this about 4 times more than the combined world of OFP and the Resistance addon together. The regions vary from arid regions that look a bit like the middle east to large cities, lush meadows and deep forests.

As in Operation Flashpoint, you're put into the role of a young US soldier when suddenly the North decides to invade its peaceful neighbour. What's new with the campaign ist that you now have the opportunity to do "side missions" before continuing with the next "main mission". If you succesfully complete these side missions the enemy will have fewer troops, recieve less reinforcements etc...

I've only done a couple of campaign missions so far and although they offered quite some variety I somehow missed the very personal feeling the campaign quickly developed in OFP with the adventures of Sgt. Armstrong. Maybe the atmosphere improves with the coming missions.

Here's a shot from the 1st campaign mission:



Besides the campaign the game offers several single missions and a mission editor. Again, those already familiar with OFP know how powerful the editor is, virtually providing you with a sandbox for all kind of scenarios. You want a mission where a single sniper is tasked with killing a high-priority target protected by dozens of guards? No problem. A tank battle with dozens of armoured vehicles and ground attack helicopters? Easily done. An infantry platoon that get's airlifted by blackhawk helicopters, assaults an enemy position with armour support, then leaves the scene on Strykers? Everything is possible, including detailed briefings and cinematic cut-scenes.



Also Armed Assault offers improved online play with the possibility to join already running games, a big improvedment compared to OPF. I haven't done multiplayer yet, but I've read some positive comments of people having tested the multiplayer part already.


To be continued...


"...late afternoon the Air Tasking Order came in [and] we found the A-10 part and we said, "We are going where!? We are doing what!?"

Capt. Todd Sheehy, Hog pilot, on receiving orders during Operation Desert Storm

Inline advert (2nd and 3rd post)

#2107789 - 12/03/06 02:14 PM Re: My Armed Assault review  
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Part II

Armed Assault offers a large arsenal of assault rifles in various configurations (M4, M4 203, M4 ACOG, M4A1, M16A2, G36, AK74, AKS74 etc...), MPs, MGs, sniper rifles, hand guns, Grenades, Mines and AA and AT-weapons like Stingers and RPGs.

All of them come with detailed sights and generally look good. Accuracy depends on whether you're standing, kneeling or lying prone, and your constitution. If you've just been sprinting some distance you will hear your breathing getting heavier and suffer from reduced accuracy until you get your breath again. The pic below shows the "sights view". This view can be zoomed in (by holding the right mouse button) even a bit more for precise shooting.



The bullets use a ballistic model so you will see your rounds drop of with increased distance and you'll need to lead moving targets.

ArmA also includes a bunch of vehicles, from heavy tanks (M1A1, T-72) and IFVs (BMP2, Stryker) to civilian cars. Many of them come in various versions, for example there are 3 different versions of the Stryker alone, one with a automatic grenade laucher, one with an ATGM, and one with...uhm...forget what it was. Probably a 0.50cal. MG.

Including the various versions ArmA offers about 40 ground vehicles + a few small boats and even two artillery pieces (M119 and D-30).

Most of them are very detailed, although some look better than others. The interior of the vehicles is usually OK, but not as detailed as, for example the interiors in Steel Beasts 2.



Driving around and shooting stuff up with the armoured vehicles if fun, BUT ArmA is no tank simulation. The operations of the armoured vehicles, the armour and ballistics model and their weapons systems are very basic. Don't expect a hardcore armour sim, because this game, as OPF, simply isn't one.

Still, there's something immensely gratifying about putting a 120mm APFSDS round into a T-72. \:\)



ArmA also offers the opportunity to pilot a number of helicopters and planes, among them Blackhawks, Cobras,a Mi-17, a Ka-50 Hokum and even a Harrier (that can't vertically take-off or land). Ah, and they included a Sopwith Camel.
The helicopters look very good and the ability to transport troops around the battlefield makes for some very interesting missions.



The big problem with them is that the flight controls are pretty much botched at the moment. I'm used to pilot helicopters in OFP (and in 'real' sims like Longbow) but the new flight models in ArmA are borderline ridiculous. Add to that a large deadzone for the joystick (which you cannot change via the setup menu)combined with a very high control sensibility then you've got a recipe for desaster. It's not the Shilkas, Stingers or the RPGs that pose the greatest threat for a helicopter pilot in Arma. It's trees. And buildings. And mountains.




To be continued...


"...late afternoon the Air Tasking Order came in [and] we found the A-10 part and we said, "We are going where!? We are doing what!?"

Capt. Todd Sheehy, Hog pilot, on receiving orders during Operation Desert Storm

#2107790 - 12/03/06 02:14 PM Re: My Armed Assault review  
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Part III

Performace. Bugs. AI. Gameplay. Fun.

As I've briefly mentioned somewhere above, my initial impression of ArmA was thoroughly underwhelming. The main reason for this was the very bad performance of the game on my system. At (recommended by the game) medium settings the very 1st campaign mission crawled and jerked around at 10-15 FPS while driving into a large city. The patch did improve performance quite a bit, so that I can now play at least around small towns with about (20-30) FPS. Still, large cities and forests bog my system down even at "low" settings and with much reduced viewing range.

To compare: my fully-pimped OFP (with post-processing enabled through Kegety's DXDLL)doesn't look that much worse than ArmA on low settings with 1000m viewing distance, but runs at 30-40 FPS with 2500m viewing range.

If your system is in the "minimim system requirements" range, don't bother with ArmA at the moment.

The next problematic point is BUGS. Quite obviously these little creatures find a perfect habitat on the island of Sahrani, which explains their abundance in the world of ArmA. I've seen soldiers run through walls, myself "sliding" over a rooftop as if on ice, then falling through a building, only to get stuck in a wall. I've seen trucks fall of a bridge, bouncing back doing a salto. The bugs and the AI complement each other for some rather interesting gameplay. Quite often during missions I was wondering if I was actually seeing a scripted event or simply witnessing yet another AI breakdown.

A little example:

During one of the campaign mission we're tasked with holding our positions during an enemy attack. After a while we're told to fall back, board some jeeps and get the hell out of there. So, you fall back while enemy infantry and tanks are advancing, constantly under fire. You reach the jeeps, board one, and...wait. Somehow some of the other soldiers got stuck somewhere. So, I kept sitting in the backseat of a jeep, waiting minute after minute for the rest of my squad to arrive.

When they finally arrived we raced off, into and through the city. Well, at least until my driver missed a bend in the road and smacked into a building. We got stuck and it took him another couple of minutes to get the jeep back on the road again.

Outside the city the other jeep had a (this time scripted by the mission designer, at least I believe so, but you can never be sure of these things in ArmA)accident and the survivors were ordered to board my jeep, too. It took them about 5 minutes to walk the 10m from their wrecked jeep to our vehicle... while I happily waited yet again. After this incident we drove about 100m, only to disembark and continue on foot.

The whole situation didn't really convey the atmosphere of "pulling back at the last second with an enemy army on your heels"... ;\)

There's also some strange stuff about the M1A1's ammo. While 120mm HEAT rounds won't even scratch a small house you can bring down a four-storey building with three rounds of APFSDS ammo.

There's also a distinct lack of visual feedback regarding the weapons. You can fire a salvo into the large windows of that hotel, but they won't break. A tank round tearing into a building won't even produce a scratch on the wall. If you're used to the carnage in modern shooters then the firefights in ArmA will definitely seem a bit sterile in comparison.

Another point that needs to be covered is the AI. The little soldiers in ArmA often only seem to come in two different flavours: stupid and blind as a rock, or deadly snipers that kill you with assistance of the force the moment they sense your presence.

Sometimes, especially in cities, you'll see enemy soldiers running past you, happily ignoring you and you squad. At other times they kill you from 200m with the first shot while you're hiding behind some bushes.

One of the "side" campaign missions involves you blowing up a couple of enemy tanks during a night mission. I actually gave up after repeatedly getting killed within seconds after firing a single round, while lying prone in total darkness in good cover.

Sounds pretty bad, eh? ;\)

It does. But, OTOH ArmA is fun. Great fun, actually. The game really captures the atmosphere of infantry/combined arms fighting. If you're not plagued by performance issues and AI breakdowns then ArmA offers a fantastic experience of being on a battlefield. You got tanks advancing in the distance, jets and helicopters buzzing over your head, explosions all around you while you try to maneuver your squad around the battlefield. All this while you know that in ArmA a single bullet CAN kill you.

You send the MG gunner to that corner of the street, order the soldier with the M203 to take out that sniper on the roof top, send two men to advance down the street while the rest engages in a vicious firefight with the enemy reinforcements. Then suddenly, a BMP comes rolling around the corner! Fall back! Take up new positions and set up an ambush.

This is where ArmA really shines. My problem is that this really doesn't differ much from the original Operation Flashpoint. In fact, it's not really different from OFP at all. You get nicer grafics and a slightly modified campaign, but in the end ArmA is practically OFP 1.5.

If you liked OPF you'll like ArmaA. As OFP, ArmA can be a very difficult game. A single enemy soldier you didn't spot in time can (and will) kill you. The pacing is much slower than any other tactical shooter I know. You spend much time observing the environment, crawling cautiously forward, or dashing from cover to cover. Ah, and don't even think of firing your gun while running around... ;\)

To be continued... (for multiplayer)


"...late afternoon the Air Tasking Order came in [and] we found the A-10 part and we said, "We are going where!? We are doing what!?"

Capt. Todd Sheehy, Hog pilot, on receiving orders during Operation Desert Storm

#2107791 - 12/03/06 05:21 PM Re: My Armed Assault review  
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Excellent info Para_B

Thank you.


"I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know no way of judging of the future but by the past."
Patrick Henry 1775

I personally believe in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and that deficit spending is sustainable forever. We really do need more Admirals in the Navy than ships and that millions of more poor immigrants will jump start the economy.

"There's a sucker born every minute."
Phineas Taylor Barnum

#2107792 - 12/03/06 07:35 PM Re: My Armed Assault review  
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Agreed. Very well done Para.

Im slowly getting used to the helos lol. Rarely with a safe rtb though \:D

#2107793 - 12/03/06 08:38 PM Re: My Armed Assault review  
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tbh I didn't expect it to be different from OFP save for the gfx polish. The missions and campaign sound like a real let down but that's something that we can do something about.

Helicopters were always rubbish, so no dissapointments there. More of the same, usual launch buggies. Seems like it's now behind the curve even with the added glitz.

Ta for taking the time-out to write it up.

#2107794 - 12/03/06 10:21 PM Re: My Armed Assault review  
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Quote:
Originally posted by Para_Bellum:
You get nicer grafics and a slightly modified campaign, but in the end ArmA is practically OFP 1.5.
To be fair, that is what they marketed it as.


"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.” -Milton Friedman

Quem Deus vult perdere, prius dementat
#2107795 - 12/03/06 11:03 PM Re: My Armed Assault review  
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Living with the Trees
Yep

and we'll have to wait for version 1.96 for everything to work right.....again.

The Starforce and SECUROM issues will make it a do not buy for me. And I don't steal software.

Cmon 505, show some sense and use that simple protection scheme, which in the end works just as well as the others.

NONE!


"I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know no way of judging of the future but by the past."
Patrick Henry 1775

I personally believe in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and that deficit spending is sustainable forever. We really do need more Admirals in the Navy than ships and that millions of more poor immigrants will jump start the economy.

"There's a sucker born every minute."
Phineas Taylor Barnum

#2107796 - 12/04/06 06:39 PM Re: My Armed Assault review  
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Today i fly a La-5F!
Thank you for the great review, Para_Bellum!


"Therefore, in Korea, we did not view the Americans as enemies, but only as opponents. Our motto in the air was 'Competition - with whomever.'"
#2107797 - 12/06/06 11:17 PM Re: My Armed Assault review  
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Simple way to increase performance loads is to reduce the SHADING down to lowest setting. It means u get blurries on land textures at distance but the performance improvement is substantial.

I have mine up one notch so I don't get the blurries and can live with that. It seems the SHADING and trees are what seem to bog the system down.


Specs: Gigabyte GA-MA790XT-UD4P | AMD Phenom II x4 955 BE 3.2GHz | XFX RADEON HD 5850 (Latest Cats) CCC | Corsair XMS3 4GB DDR3 1333MHz Dual Channel | Hanns-G HH281 28" LCD | X-Fi Ultimate Gamer (5.1) | LiteOn DH20A4P DVD-RW | Saitek Cyborg X Joystick | Win7 Ultimate

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