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Review

Arma 3 Updated Review

  • Game release: March 5, 2013
  • Reviewed:
  • PC
Aaron Sampson on Google+

Staggered formation.

by

The most famous of the classic blunders, we're told, is getting involved in a land war in Asia. Arma III should be at a healthy remove then, centered as it is around the battle for a fictional Mediterranean archipelago. It certainly plays all the right cards: vaguely foreboding news montages, not-so-vague allusions to real-world conflicts, and realistic weaponry and other military miscellanea. Here is the modern shooter, dressed for success.

But what's to be said for the wisdom of appending a campaign mode to a game that has traditionally been appreciated as a multiplayer creative suite? There's a blunder for the modern era. The Arma series is known foremost as a platform: a malleable assembly of characters and military objects, and rules to govern their behavior. Modding enthusiasts leverage in-game editors and a relatively ungated code structure to produce their own playable content in lieu of formal designs, and to great effect. It was odd, then, to see some lamenting the relegation of Arma III's campaign to three downloadable post-release entries. There's a stubborn canard that asserts a video game's single-player campaign, if offered, must be its nominal flagship, even when in practice it's a secondary (or tertiary) concern for player and developer alike.

The topography of Altis gives way to roads and towns in a way that looks natural.

But a campaign was promised, and so a campaign must be delivered. NATO forces are in the midst of a drawdown on the island of Stratis, when the once-friendly local forces lash out in a surprise attack. A multistage affair ensues, playing out in a dull triptych: Survive. Adapt. Win. The grunt tasked with doing that surviving, adapting, and winning is one Corporal Kerry, who reacts to every order he's given with a beleaguered protest ("You want me to do what??"), which is a curious trait for a soldier with a non-zero amount of experience. You, as Kerry, take on an escalating part in an escalating war, eventually graduating from a follower role on Stratis' meager 20 square kilometers to commanding a squad on Altis and its staggering 270 square kilometers. There are a few vague allusions to an overarching plot involving a British black-ops group and some suspicious earthquakes, but neither plot point stakes much of a claim on the proceedings.

The campaign is a strange beast, torn between an earnest attempt to render the tedium and dispassionate remove that color modern warfare, and the Hollywood bombast that colors Modern Warfare a la Call of Duty. This is the sort of conflict where acronyms (NATO, FIA) fight acronyms (CSAT, AAF) over acronyms (LZs, OPs). But it's also the sort where trite wartime quotes fill the interstitial screens, and where the only attempt to characterize the enemy force is an epithet--"greenback"--that's occasionally spat. Arma III is content to let you idle while an ally goes through a lengthy, inaudible, and ultimately inconsequential discussion with a checkpoint guard, or direct you to report in to characters whose only purpose is to refer you over to talk to your commanding officer a few yards away. It restricts your character's movement speed to a controlled jog--elbows in, gun stock squarely nestled on the shoulder--and sends you humping across the hills and valleys of Altis for miles without encountering anything worth loosing a round at. Then an electric guitar wails, a bomber starts strafing your position, and you're forced to bug out at the same ponderous pace that you entered with seconds ago.

Arma III's in-game editor packs a lot of features.

The fractured nature of Arma III's campaign makes for an uneven experience at best, but that variability does have an accentuating effect when things fall into a more natural stride. For one, there's a real fragility to Kerry and his unit. So when Bohemia dangles the carrot of an escape helicopter before you at the end of one grueling mission, and then snatches it away with an untimely bit of antiaircraft fire, Kerry's horror-struck pleas of "no no No No NO!" take on a bitter pathos. The introduction of the island of Altis is another high point, presenting a rigorous mission that sees Kerry attempting to rearm and regroup after being stranded behind enemy lines. When Arma III isn't trying to show off a fancy new military gadget or weave in its half-baked tale of black-ops intrigue, when it's leaning on the more tangible drama of a botched rescue or frantic coms chatter, it simmers in a way most shooters can't.

It helps that your forces aren't punctuating every explosion with a string of expletives, of course. But for the better part of the campaign I supplied my own. Not two skirmishes into the Survive campaign's relatively tame first level, it seems I'd already died more times than I had in the entirety of Dark Souls, and that game's motto is "Prepare to Die." I'd hop off five-foot-tall ledges and crumple into a bloody heap. I'd get gunned down while looking at the full screen map, after being prompted to look at the map. I'd open up the help menu for instructions on some trial-by-fire task, and get killed while reading them. I'd succumb to razor-accurate shots fired by enemies in distant hills, enemies who never seemed to have a scope on their guns when I eventually overcame them. Some of these instances were learning experiences, and not soon repeated. Others felt like side effects of the campaign's delay and piecemeal release schedule--what Arma veteran would have welcomed a long-awaited mode that leads with a thorough introduction to controls he or she is already familiar with?

The campaign is a strange beast, torn between an earnest attempt to render the tedium and dispassionate remove that color modern warfare, and the Hollywood bombast that colors Modern Warfare a la Call of Duty.

Arma III uses the full keyboard for its array of possible actions, split between personal affairs like toggling flashlights and binoculars, and issuing orders to your squad. Much of the heavy lifting is foisted on the mousewheel, of all things, which scrolls through contextual actions for almost anything that's to be done in the game. The controls alternate between instrumental and overly finicky, but they never cease to be an aspect of Arma III that requires constant attention. The unwieldiness does lend combat a certain gravitas, however. Most modern shooters grant an athletic flourish to the act of killing; here, the satisfaction of downing an enemy comes from the knowledge that he won't be shooting at you anymore, not in how adroitly you head-shotted him.

There isn't such a positive spin to be put on Arma III's artificial intelligence, however. It's particularly damning, because the strategic underpinnings require a close coordination with squadmates that the game's engine isn't prepared to give. Teammates follow commands at their leisure, if they follow them at all. During one marathon trek across the island, I reached my destination with only two of my eight-man squad in tow. Looking back from the top of our hilltop destination, I could chart the lost squad members like dropped breadcrumbs--one trapped on a rock, four frozen solid in the middle of a field, and the last determined never to leave the two-story building he'd wandered into of his own volition. All attempts to order a regroup returned a chorus of firm but vexing "Negative." So much for "no man gets left behind," then.

Succinct.

Though Arma III's campaign may be a bit of a dud, the rest of the game remains more than capable of carrying a payload. There are the packaged showcases, which are one-off missions that introduce the game's more varied weapons, vehicles, and techniques in isolation. There's a firing range that offers a bit of shooting gallery-style diversion. What's of more significance is the multiplayer, which bolsters the mission-running experience by supplanting the artificial intelligence with human allies that need less babysitting. They aren't always any more helpful than the AI (and they're a tad more likely to frag you), but they're better company, and one good session is worth trawling the server browser for a little while. A capable human team can achieve the closest thing to agility that Arma III's punctilious controls allow, leapfrogging between bits of cover and sweeping buildings with a collective conscience.

Better still is the library of mods, packed with thousands of player-created variants that run the gamut from atomic tests and rally races to fully-scripted missions and dynamic war simulations. You can take on a gauntlet of snipers, playing off the variable lines of sight that Altis' hills and valleys proffer. You can attempt a recreation of the real-life Neptune Spear mission that takes some curious artistic liberties. Chief among the offerings is Wasteland, a survivalist affair that highlights Arma III's talent for brooding, deliberate engagements, where discretion begins to really feel like the better part of valor. Or you could simply wander the islands, grabbing a few pictures to put alongside the towns, salt flats, and castles that litter the map's expansive topography.

In any direction you go, there's loosely structured fun to be had. It's there where the islands Bohemia Interactive have created are put through their paces, stretched and warped by the collective whim of the internet, unconstrained by the expectations that burden the words "modern warfare."

The Good
Active modding community recycles the game's assets into wonderful permutations
Methodical approach to combat offers a welcome change from popular standards
Campaign occasionally resonates with the drama of authentic warfare
Multiplayer battles seethe with tension
The Bad
Campaign is hampered by tonal inconsistencies, a throwaway plot, and awful voice acting
Controls alternate between being helpful and fussy, but they're always obtrusive
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Arma 3

About the Author

/ Staff

Nick Capozzoli abandoned dozens of soldiers across the fields of Altis during his run through Arma III's full campaign and jaunts into available mods. It wasn't his fault--they just wouldn't listen.

Discussion

39 comments
liquidbutter
liquidbutter

lol. Gamespot's "Updated Reviews" are so fucked. I don't think I've seen a single updated review that grew 1 point higher. Instead, games like this are getting a lower score.

karan
karan

If anyone wants to play wasteland independent in a team....... add me on steam .... my id is         backupcurve       

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

Funny how some PC elitists brag about how they have all the great games like Arma and they're pullin 7's out of 10. Was that couple grand really worth it? All those upgrades? Lol master race my arse

Gears189
Gears189

1 question how do you know what "authentic warfare" is like?  Arma 3 might be closer to real combat than the rest of them but you are not a real veteran, who seen actual combat.  If you were you'd be blind drunk wasted in a city park trying to figure out why your buddy died.

waldaz
waldaz

graphics are joke

Psycold
Psycold

I own all these games but I just never play them...I'm too spoiled with fancy game features from other titles like being able to interact with the environment. I mean say all you want about Battlefield (and it does deserve some anger) but at least you can properly climb a ladder or grab someone from behind and slit his throat without having to use some scroll wheel from medieval times. Then there is the control scheme....Christ this game has so many buttons, I think I must have a.d.d. or something because I've never been able to bring myself to sit down and get everything bound. All that being said, I'm glad these games exist because it's these types of games that keep the PC community strong. I just wish I had the patience to stick with it. 

HesamB
HesamB

This game is one of the reasons that we PC gamers show off to console players. I loved this game since it came out in 2006 and I loved the operation flashpoint series this game is based on . i played every one, i loved every one. 10/10

charlieholmes
charlieholmes

I stopped reading at the point I reached the word, "interstitial". Really Nick, we're talking about a blood and guts raw world game here and you want to put words like that in your review? Come on man!

Oh and there still are plenty of SP players out there. That's why they put a campaign in for us.

CUDGEdave
CUDGEdave

Not to bothered about the Campaign although I did enjoy it,but the MP is excellent and a shit load of fun(also looking forward the "Zeus" mode) 9/10

ztype85
ztype85

I'm confused. Haven't bought this yet because I'm a cheapskate. But the original review of the game got an 8 and after adding a campaign mode it gets a 7? So essentially Bohemia should remove the campaign to make it a better game...?


Two different opinions I suppose but how is this an updated review then.

faizanhd
faizanhd

I know this is Nick Capozzoli's own opinion. But does he really feel that ARMA III INCLUDING a new campaign makes it a lesser experience than Call Of Duty or Battlefield which both got an 8.0 .

What I find most alarming is that he just went and decided that it should get a lower score than Kevin's original review just because of a somewhat lacklustre campaign. Not to mention the fact that there way better user made creations now than there has ever been.

I don't want this score or his opinion to change. But want to point this out to potential buyers of the game that they shouldn't decide to not buy the game just because of this review.

One more thing: "Here is the modern shooter, dressed for success."

ARMA is a military sim. NOT a shooter.

dutchgamer83
dutchgamer83

@Gravity_Slave Funny how console fanboys always need to bitch about others just to make themselves feel more secure about their system. There is not one fanboy worse then the console fanboy. Is it not the other console then its the pc who you hate. Always the F'ing same with you guys. You call most pc gamers PC elititst yet its your kind that started the console war, bragging about who' s machine had the better graphics and when a pc gamer would say "if graphics are all that matters to you then why not buy a good pc and play it on there as that has the best graphics" then its suddenly the pc gamer who is the elitist.

Also CoD is a bribed game on all major game review sites. I don't call myself the master race but ever darn turd knows that CoD has been overated. They can release a CoD game full of bugs and still it will score a 8 minimum. Ontop of that Arma 3 reviews aren't reviewed as they should be done. You see Arma 3 is a millitairy simulator, and you don't get that experience from just the singleplayer. If you really wanna enjoy this game you should join a MilSim group and play with them. Play with them how to operate like real soldier. Hell most of the Arma players are ex or still serving military personnel from all kind of divisions. 

About the controls, yeah they can be complicated but nothing you can't overcome. There are just many buttons and you need to put some time in learning them but eventually you will. Its not like CoD where all you need are a few buttons and keep the fire button pressed.

It's just sad that people like you have access to the internet and need to troll. You are what is wrong with gamers today. I'm a old school gamer. I grew up with games and back then we didn't say "my system is better then yours" but you imature and insecure little kids need to feel better then others these days so you bitch about either pc elitists or the other console gamer. People like you aren't even gamers, for you it only matters your own system gets the best scores. I got a pc and all the last gen consoles. I buy games cause i like them and some are specific for one system. I prefer the pc, cause i can do more then just playing the game on my pc. I don't concider myself a better person then a console gamer. I condider my a damn better person then any fanboy out there. Cause there is a difference between a fanboy and a console/pc gamer. You see i have no issues with people who prefer the console. Each their own. What i can't stand are people like you who open their mouths. Your oppinion is not one that is valid, you are the type of gamer that F'ed it up for so many others. Console gamers are looked at as creepy kids who fight some weird war over who has the greatest graphics. But it's not the console gamer who does that. Its the damn fanboy who does that. And fanboys no matter what system as overzealous turds that make any system look bad. 

Maybe you want to grow up some day kiddo, measuring who has the biggest wiener in the shower is rather immature. So is bitching about others their preferred system. Each their own and its a shame the console can't pull Arma 3 off cause for the fans of a real millitairy sim this is a great game and console gamers who have the taste for that really should be able to enjoy that as well. And its often the fanboys who call every pc gamer a pc elitist purely when a pc gamer is responding on some weird comment a console fanboy made. Appearantly you have no issues saying your prefered console has the best graphics ever, but when a pc gamer says "But my 3 year old pc runs better graphics then the xbone/ps4"  then suddenly the pc gamer is the elitist. Stat making sense or stop talking if you can't hand the fact that other machines might be better on that department. Not that i matters, games are about gameplay anyway. And this game could never win from CoD cause sadly the game scene changed from gamers who want a challenge to gamers who need their hands hold, need auto regen after 3 seconds of cover and fast past action none stop cause god forbid you might need to plan your attacks.

pimpofdoom
pimpofdoom

@Gravity_Slave PC elitists can be annoying but I would still rather play Arma instead of whatever COD squeals they release every year. I agree that the campaign was disappointing especially after the much better Arma 2 and Operation Arrowhead campaigns but Arma is more about user generated content and mods so the game still has a lot to offer. People will still be making new mods and user made missions for this game by the time Call Of Duty 15 comes out.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Gears189  

Also, how would you know that Capozzoli has not served? Is this your assumption?

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Gears189  

Whoa there - do you have to make that last sentence? That's an awful way to stereotype former service-people with.

dave61218
dave61218

@Gears189  Mr. Gears189, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Caldrin
Caldrin

@waldaz I would not say that at all.. graphics are one of the stand of things in ARMA III

kebbun
kebbun

@waldaz  yea its a joke that your computer can't run it because your graphics card is big as your dik.

Caldrin
Caldrin

@Psycold Remember this is a sim not an action arcade game.. if you want arcade style fps then stick with the other fps games out there.


The ARMA series has always tried to be a military sim more than anything else and it does a very good job at that. Soem of the big multiplayer servers are great fun to play on.

Smosh150
Smosh150

@Psycold  The scroll wheel does have its uses where it is necessary, but I do agree for many interactions there should be no need for it like climbing a ladder, now switching weapons/items, embarking a vehicle, etc, that is where I see its uses. The controls aren't too big a deal if you play it enough, people complain about it and I understand that, but it really only takes a week of playing it to get used to it. 

DevilDog982
DevilDog982

@charlieholmes Im fairly sure he was writing this with a dictionary close at hand... it didn't seem like a review, but a chance to use his overextended vocabulary to wow us.

Smosh150
Smosh150

@CUDGEdave  You can play the Zeus mode right now you know, I forgot if it is in the current update, but if you switch to dev edition you can play it.

nick_capozzoli
nick_capozzoli staff

@ztype85  Aye, two different opinions. I do realize it's a little weird at first blush, but it's a possibility when you have two different folks providing reviews--you wouldn't be able to trust the review if I was artificially constrained to a number between 8 and 10 because it had to jibe with someone else's take, right? ; )

Kevin-V
Kevin-V moderator staff

@faizanhd  The campaign is a mess. It's part of the game, and it's highly problematic. A review takes the entirety of the game into account, and frankly, I wouldn't have been as forgiving as Nick when considering the campaign. Additionally, we're only going to go so far when considering user-made creations--and when many user-made creations are better than what the developer provides, I'd say that's as much a knock against the game as it is in favor of it. 


Also, I think it's just as valid to refer to ARMA III as a shooter as it is to call it a military sim. I love ARMA in general, but I also know that its community--me included--tend to forgive a lot of major issues because there's not much like this on the market. And let's face it: ARMA III has a load of flaws. 

nick_capozzoli
nick_capozzoli staff

@faizanhd  Well, I feel okay with the shooter label. While there's certainly a larger strategic underpinning to Arma than most military games, there's still more than enough shooting going on for me to call it a defining factor. I'm leery of using the word "simulation" because I don't think Arma always aspires to it. In many aspects it does, of course. But there's still a fair bit of exaggeration going on, to me.


Regarding the score: I wasn't aware of what Gamespot gave Call of Duty or Battlefield, as it's not germane to this review. I didn't review those games, and I arrive at my score based on the site's rubric, not based on what other games have received. I do understand that it could be perplexing that it got a lower score than Kevin's initial review, after adding content. But I'm not Kevin (alas), and I think it's safe to say that I like Arma 3--even with the new content--a little less than he does. That being said, I enjoyed the game, and I think the score and--more importantly--the text reflect that. I'd like to think that potential buyers of the game will have enough info to grasp what I think about it. No more, no less.


Hope that helps!

miser_cz
miser_cz

@faizanhd  Kevin´s score has been a tad high in the first place. The 7 suits this game much better, with or without campaign.

glez13
glez13

@faizanhd Yes this doesn't make sense. This is more of an "other take" review than an updated review since it's not written by the original reviewer. 


Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

Yes Dave...we've all seen Billy Maddison too

shreddyz
shreddyz

@dave61218 @Gears189  he has a point, you however, stole a quote from an adam sandler movie mr hipster!...and didn't even have the smarts to put it in quotation marks

CUDGEdave
CUDGEdave

@Smosh150 @CUDGEdave  Oh right! Thanks man,I have been to busy to look,but I will have a go later :D

ztype85
ztype85

@nick_capozzoli @ztype85  That's fine and all of course. I think the more correct terminology should be "Second Opinion" or "Other Take" rather than "Updated Review"


That's more of what I was getting at. Obviously two different people are going to have two different opinions on something. More about semantics rather than credibility.

SouthLSoldier
SouthLSoldier

@Kevin-V @faizanhd  For all its problem's, i still find it incredibly hard to be negative about Arma 3. The user generated content as-well as server's make the game something really special. the campaign mode is only there because the community asked for it. It isnt a deal breaker for me. 

dave61218
dave61218

@shreddyz  Anyone over the age of 6 can easily detect that it was from Billy Madison. Is this a gamespot or an English paper with MLA citations?

nick_capozzoli
nick_capozzoli staff

@ztype85  Understood! Gamespot might still be fiddling with the terminology, what with it being a new system & all. Tough to say for me as a freelancer, but I definitely get the sentiment.

ShimmeringSword
ShimmeringSword

@ztype85 The game came out a year ago, and in that time the competition has grown stronger. It's getting a new review because it's now technically "feature complete". It hasn't gotten worse, it's just graded on a harder curve.

And yeah, reviewer opinions vary. Usually they do label these as "second take", but this is a special case.

Arma 3 More Info

  • Released
    • PC
    Arma 3 is the brand-new installment in this series of critically acclaimed realistic military simulators.
    7.3
    Average User RatingOut of 193 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Arma 3
    Developed by:
    Bohemia Interactive
    Published by:
    Bohemia Interactive, Zoo Corporation
    Genres:
    Simulation
    Not yet assigned a final ESRB rating. Appears only in advertising, marketing and promotional materials related to a game that is expected to carry an ESRB rating, and should be replaced by a game's rating once it has been assigned.
    Rating Pending
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