Appreciating ARMA

Ah, ARMA. What would we do without you?

When the rest of the market is oversaturated with run-of-the-mill shooters sporting a beige colour scheme and forcing us to wait patiently for killstreaks, you have us shouting over VOIP comms to strangers in futile attempts to sync up optimal raiding positions in the hell that is an urban war zone.

While you may not have all the bells and whistles that many other modern shooters might tout, you have always possessed something that no other franchise could touch: unparalleled realism.

Well, just about as much realism as one could hope for in a modern video game.

At the end of the day, there’s only so much we can do to immerse ourselves into the horrors of war short of enlisting for active duty at our local recruiter. Caveats notwithstanding, ARMA has a lot to offer to those players who are willing to wrap their heads around the sometimes-convoluted UI system and lack of graphical prowess that the franchise has carried for years.

Bohemia Interactive has still somehow managed to release some of the most unoptimized software releases in the ARMA franchise. No amount of framerate stutter can detract from the marvel that these games continue to be. Even years after the initial launch of ARMA III, the player base remains as active and fierce as it did in the past.

With player-made game modes storming to the fore, the community’s involvement with the project has maintained the fire burning bright.

And with good reason: there’s nothing quite like attempting to take an entire town with your closest comrades as the opposing forces move in on your flanks – or skulking around a hillside to avoid direct confrontation in with an opposing convoy as they make their way across the several hundred square kilometres of landmass available as a digital playground.

ARMA’s realism won’t win over every player. Many are likely to give up once the frustration of the obtuse control scheme sets in. Or perhaps when the realization hits that the dwellings upon which ARMA is based aren’t optimized for flow, cover, and the fastest route to an objective like many modern arena shooters are.

Being based on a realistic depiction of warfare as it is, ARMA pulls no punches in offering up some of the most treacherous, gritty, and downright messy combat zones imaginable.

All of this is set against the picturesque backdrop of a fictional idyllic Greek island – with clear waters and bleached buildings galore. Take some time, relax, and enjoy the sights and sounds of a virtual slice of heaven – when you’re not dodging enemy fire from several hundred meters.

On the note of enemy fire, this is perhaps where the ARMA series excels above all others. While ARMA III has refined its gunplay to near-perfection, the series has always offered incredibly accurate and enjoyable firefights.

Although it may take some time to get adjusted to the notion of utilizing tracers and firing across comparably massive swathes of distances, the reward for doing so pays dividends.

With assault rifles fielding actually accurate hitting distances and sniper rifles relegated back to their position as true masters of long-range combat, it doesn’t take long to adjust to firefights that can take places over a sprawling valley or several kilometres of land.

Spotting your quarry approaching and reading their movements is as critical in ARMA as it is in real combat – and your hardest foe may well prove to be a miscommunication with friendlies rather than the bite of the enemy’s bullet.

Layered on top of squad tactics, gunplay, kit loadouts, assault and transport vehicles across air, land, and sea, and a myriad of other knobs and buttons just begging to be tweaked and customized is the passion of a development house whose goal is to create a military simulator unlike any other on the market – and they’ve succeeded. The ARMA series is showing no signs of slowing down, and if Bohemia’s track record is anything to go off of – there’s another one right around the corner.

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