The first thing this ex-military, army game fanatic did after booting up the latest DLC for Arma 2, entitled “Army of the Czech Republic,” was to sit gawping out the window of the transport vehicle, unable to comprehend why my fellow soldiers, after receiving their orders via cutscene, would not follow me into the van.
COME ON FFS!! I shouted. I systematically pressed every button left to right on my keyboard, only to look up to find I too, was now stood outside the vehicle. As I hurled a grenade at the head of one of my team members, it dawned on me that maybe I should play the original game first.
So, a little background. Arma 2 was originally released in 2009, and is developed by Bohemia interactive studio. The original took players to the fictional post-Soviet state of Chernarus, South Zagoria, a 225 square kilometer sandbox, for you to wander around, loading screen free, until you start a mission.
2010 saw the release of Operation Arrowhead, Arma’s first DLC, which is also required in order to play Army of the Czech Republic, and the arrival of American soldiers in a fictional region called Takistan, based in Afghanistan.
More, smaller DLC packs followed, and in 2011, Bohemia released a “lite” version of Arma 2, omitting the single player campaign, high res textures and operation arrowhead, but allowing full multiplayer functionality.
So, armed with my new-found knowledge of which button did what I jumped back into Army of the Czech republic, and found a 15 mission game that captured the essence of the original 2009 release, but had evolved upon it, taking the best bits and quietly shuffling the bugs, lack of graphics options and clunky gameplay under the carpet.
The graphics have certainly been polished up a bit, to make it easier on the eye, and the new graphics options allow those with older/lower end PC’s to still enjoy it at a modest frame rate. Arma has always been known for creating beautiful environments, but I’m glad they updated them as time went on.
Unfortunately, the controls are as awkward and hard to adapt to as ever, and after being pinned down and taking a hit, scrawling through a multi-use menu to get the medic to… Well, be a medic takes a lot from the action and brutality of war. He’s a medic for fudge sake, what else does he think he’s going to do? Prop up a lemonade stand and file for peace?
The confusion doesn’t end there, as I stated at the top of this review, getting your squad to join you in a vehicle shouldn’t be a difficult endeavor, yet Arma makes you get in first, and then tell your team to get in individually. Couple this with the use of 3 buttons for crouch, prone and standup instead of a simple toggle, firefights can leave you staring at the controller, baffled whilst your character gets shot to shit.
What I did like to see, was the continued realism. No more running headfirst into an enemy base, COD style like a clown on crack, you’ve got to use tactics to survive, because if a team mate gets shot, he’s down, If you get shot, then its game over.
What makes this even scarier is the fact that there’s often no way to tell which direction the fire is coming from, save listening for the audio, face down in the grass. This is where the game really shines, and reminds me of basic training. “Jenkins, lay down covering fire at my mark, Montes, you flank to the left and try to draw their line of fire, Carlos you’re with me, let’s go” BAM BOOM WIN. You can however, save at any point, and the AutoSaves are frequent, meaning a mess up is not necessarily a disaster.
You may have noticed that there is no “Jenkins, Montes or Carlos” in the team, but that is simply because whilst the game is very cinematic in style, the characters themselves have no real personality, there is no real emotional investment, so when one of them goes down, all I gave was a “dammit” and a shoulder shrug. Maybe I’m just sadistic? Who knows?.
So, with all said and done, ARMA 2: Army of the Czech Republic is a… Continuation of what ARMA fans are used to, with some redeeming features and narrative, somewhat plagued by the same control and bug problems evident in previous titles. It is thoroughly enjoyable for those looking for a realistic combat experience, and one of the least “gun-ho” Michael Bay style shooters out there. Give it a try.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.