Bohemia Interactive is known for its military first-person shooters deeply rooted in simulation. There is no shortage of that in ArmA II: Combined Operations which includes the base game plus Operation Arrowhead expansion. The game isn’t so much about a story, but rather than the experience.
ArmA II features a slim campaign, but benefits from a long list of standalone missions that range from sniping a single target to full fledged battles as infantry or in armored vehicles. You’ll even have the opportunity to fly helicopters and planes and do strafing runs. Each mission is unique and allows for you to tackle the mission any way you see fit. Benchmark missions are even available to run to test out the graphics to ensure optimal performance and test your tweaks. Military enthusiasts, veteran and civilian alike will find more than enough to do here.
There is an unprecedented amount of detail brought forth towards communication, ballistics, weapon handling, and even vehicle handling. The things in the world are authentic and realistic, but the locations are not. They are set in ficitional locales such as Chernarus, Utes, Takison and a few others. A mission editor exists to design a campaign of your dreams. The Armory is my favorite place to load up as you can use any weapon, any vehicle and test it out to your heart’s content – a playground for military enthusiasts.
With such open areas, the graphics can be demanding. even though this game came out in 2010, you’ll need a powerful computer in order to max every setting out. It’s sad to say though that most of this world looks desaturated as a result, almost appearing monochromatic at times. Night-time is where it can look better with flares, flashlights, and night vision bringing in color. Communication from AI and to AI and real people is delivered via voice clips strung together for complete sentences. While completely awkward and unnatural, it is useful and delivered fast. The sound of gunfire, machinery, and other vehicles are lifelike and are immersive and with a good sound system can excel. Music is subtle but works well.
If playing with the AI gets boring or too challenging, you can take your game online. This is where ArmA II thrives, in it’s online presence. You’ll find vast, open battlefields to work with friends and strangers alike. It is key to be able to talk with your team by voice, as text will slow you down.
ArmA II: Combined Operations is top-to-bottom a great game. It may not be polished in areas that you’d expect such as the voice acting or lacking bugs, but it is a realistic military shooter that excels in authenticity and challenge. You won’t find a better community of players and modders, like for DayZ and others like it than in ArmA II. The open world and accessibility to approach situations any way you want, both online and off are fantastic.