Lock and Load: Upcoming Military Shooters of 2007

We set our sights on the holiday season's upcoming crop of military shooters. Oorah!

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Medal of Honor: Airborne
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Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway
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Army of Two
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People who play games like shooting things, judging from the sheer popularity of the shooter genre. There are first-person shooters and third-person shooters, of course, but shooters also cover everything from fantasy and the Wild West to horror, science fiction, and more. While blasting zombies, aliens, and mutants can be a lot of fun, sometimes you want something grounded in a real-world setting. This can involve battling the Axis in World War II or participating in contemporary conflicts, both fictional and real. We like these kinds of shooters too, so we've compiled a list of games that are coming out between now and the end of the year that fulfill our need to rock and roll in a realistic setting. The key criteria for this list was an adherence to real-world weapons and a nod to realism, as well as the absence of anything fantastical, paranormal, or alien. And with that said, let's dive in.

Army of Two (PS3 | 360)

Publisher: EA Developer: EA Montreal Release Date: November 15, 2007
Remember kids, even mercenaries use the buddy system.
Remember kids, even mercenaries use the buddy system.

Army of Two isn't, strictly speaking, a military shooter. If anything, the co-op-friendly game from EA's new Montreal studio is ex-military, given that it promises to follow the relatively true-to-life exploits of two mercenaries. In spite of the fact that you aren't a Devil Dog or part of the US government's fight against terror, we decided to include this game for several reasons. For starters, EA hired an actual mercenary to provide insight into how soldiers of fortune fight and survive, so Army of Two should be pretty realistic, especially when it comes to weaponry.

On one hand, you'll enjoy knowing the specifics about the real-world guns your characters wield. On the other, you'll have so much room to customize them that they should grow to feel like they belong to your character alone. After all, every professional mercenary needs a calling card…preferably one that kills lots of people.

But perhaps the most compelling weapon in this game's arsenal is its commitment to the buddy system. You're supposed to play Army of Two with a friend, and to that end, the game is loaded with co-op gameplay. You and your comrade will be able to boost each other over walls, stand back-to-back blasting away, or roar through vehicular shoot-outs. You can also use the game's massively multiplayer online role-playing-game-inspired "Aggro" system to keep your enemies confused and outflanked.

Whether these mercenaries get the job done or die in battle remains to be seen when Army of Two launches this November 15, but the game already looks Army strong.

Brothers in Arms Hell's Highway (X360 | PS3 | PC)

Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Gearbox Release Date: Q4
Proof that a trip to Europe doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg…for you.
Proof that a trip to Europe doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg…for you.

When the first Brothers in Arms came out in 2003, it injected some much-needed realism into a World War II genre that relied too much on pure action. The entire concept of Brothers in Arms is built around the use of real-world tactics to find enemies, fix them in position by firing at them, then--while their heads are down--flank and take them out. You had to think like an infantryman rather than rely on your reflexes to shoot at whatever moves. It made for a challenging and rewarding gameplay experience. Road to Hill 30 was followed up by Brothers in Arms Earned in Blood and now, Brothers in Arms Hell's Highway.

Hell's Highway was the nickname given to the narrow corridor seized by American and British airborne forces during Operation Market Garden, the largest airborne drop in history. This is the same operation depicted in the movie A Bridge Too Far, in which the Allies tried but failed to seize a series of key bridges leading to Germany's industrial heartland. Of course, incredible amounts of heroism were involved, and that's what Gearbox wants to capture with the game. It's also the first Brothers in Arms game designed for new platforms, such as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, so there's a huge upgrade in visuals as well.

In addition to the upgraded graphics, Hell's Highway adds a ton of new features, such as bazooka and mortar teams. It also adds more destructible objects in the environment, an improved cover system, and the ability to call in artillery strikes on the enemy. The way this series keeps evolving, it seems like you'll be ready to command your own infantry squad by the time you're done with Brothers in Arms Hell's Highway.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (X360 | PS3 | PC)

Publisher: Activision Developer: Infinity Ward Release Date: Q4
It was a dark and stormy firefight.
It was a dark and stormy firefight.

The Call of Duty games elevated the World War II shooter genre with their relentless and intense action. Now Infinity Ward wants to do the same with modern-day military shooters. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare ushers in a brand-new, fictional conflict, but one fought with the current inventory of vehicles and weapons at the US military's disposal. There aren't any fancy "near future" or prototype weapons here, just an incredible amount of action. You play as a US Marine or a British SAS commando caught in the midst of a growing regional war against Russian ultranationalists and a Middle Eastern dictator.

Modern Warfare will bring a number of new features to the series. Because Infinity Ward is no longer constrained by World War II-era weapons and equipment, you'll have access to top-of-the-line gear. This includes night-vision goggles, flashbang grenades, and Black Hawk helicopters. It makes for a much more frenetic experience because everything seems faster and weapons are a lot more lethal. However, Modern Warfare will also offer a lot more gameplay variety than previous Call of Duty games. It's not enough to simply assault the player's senses nonstop, which can be exhausting. Instead, you'll be able to participate in missions where stealth is more important than firepower. Likewise, you'll be able to see the battlefield from new perspectives, like that of a gunner onboard an AC-130H Spectre Gunship, serving death to those below (the action looks and sounds just like watching real-world gun footage).

To top it off, Modern Warfare also promises plenty of crazy and exciting multiplayer gameplay. A new create-a-class system will let you customize your character's weapons and skills. Yes, like in a role-playing game, you can select a number of special skills that change the dynamics in the game. For example, the "last shot" skill lets you draw your pistol and fire away for a few seconds after you're killed, giving you the chance to get even. When you put it all together, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare looks like a must-have game.


Do you have a favorite on the list, soldier? Or is your preferred tour shipping out after 2007? Leave a comment and sound off!

Medal of Honor: Airborne ( X360 | PS3 | PC)

Publisher: EA Developer: EALA Release Date: August, Q3 (PS3)
Go to battle with the forces of Germany…and gravity.
Go to battle with the forces of Germany…and gravity.

The Medal of Honor series practically inaugurated the gritty, realistic World War II shooter. As such, it's also the largest World War II franchise, with more than 20 games released on various platforms. However, its trademark formula of linear gameplay was starting to feel a bit stale, so with Medal of Honor: Airborne, EA wants to recharge the franchise with a much more dynamic battlefield.

In Airborne, you'll play as a US paratrooper who participates in all the major combat drops of the war, from Operation Husky (the invasion of Sicily) all the way to Operation Varsity (the drop on Germany). The cool new mechanic in the series lets you have control when you parachute into a level, so you can land almost anywhere on the battlefield. This also means that you can play the same battle repeatedly and experience vastly different outcomes depending on where you land, as well as how you approach the objectives. Because the game busts out of the standard linear nature of most shooters, the levels are wide open, and you're able to go almost anywhere you want at any time. Of course, it helps that the game's artificial intelligence has been rebuilt to adapt and react to the new battlefield.

Almost every aspect of the game has been rebuilt from scratch. Airborne is the first Medal of Honor game built for the new consoles, and the game's graphics, which are powered by Unreal Engine 3, are highly advanced. Medal of Honor: Airborne represents a significant upgrade to the storied series, and it's a step in the right direction for the evolution of the World War II shooter genre.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (PS3)

Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Paris Release Date: Fall
Red diamonds aren't forever - they're for shooting.
Red diamonds aren't forever - they're for shooting.

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, one of the best shooters for the Xbox 360, is finally making its way to the PlayStation 3. Thankfully, you needn't have played the first GRAW to understand or appreciate the sequel. A Mexican army rebellion has spread to the US and Mexican border; thus, the elite soldiers of the US Army's Special Forces group, the Ghosts, are called into action. You'll play as Captain Scott Mitchell, going on solo missions, as well as leading your squad, as you attempt to blunt the rebels' radical plans.

If you played any of the Ghost Recon games for the PlayStation 2, you're going to be in for a nice shock. GRAW 2 builds on its predecessor, enhancing the already-sumptuous graphics even further and delivering a feast for the eyes. Of course, graphics don't equate to gameplay, but fortunately, GRAW 2 also has that in spades.

Because GRAW 2 is set in the near future, you're armed with the latest and greatest military equipment that the US taxpayer can afford. As a fully networked infantryman on a digitized battlefield, you have access to unprecedented amounts of data that makes finding and killing the enemy easier than before. Of course, at the end of the day, it still comes down to being able to think and react faster than your foes. You'll navigate through the Mexican countryside, as well as towns and cities, accompanied by your squad. You'll also be accompanied by an assortment of military drones that can help you scout the battlefield, provide mobile cover, and more. When you throw in the comprehensive multiplayer suite, GRAW 2 promises hours of solid gameplay.

SOCOM: Confrontation (PS3)

Publisher: SCEA Developer: Slant Six Release Date: November
Play SOCOM, meet interesting people, kill them.
Play SOCOM, meet interesting people, kill them.

As the sequel to the highly popular SOCOM series on the PlayStation 2, SOCOM: Confrontation already has a huge audience. As the first SOCOM game for the PlayStation 3, it promises to deliver vastly updated graphics and gameplay that will blow fans of the PS2 games away.

First, Confrontation is an online-only multiplayer game, so don't go in expecting some kind of grand narrative. It's all about intense, tactical action as you command US Navy Seals, as well as other nations' special forces troops in combat. The game has a Middle Eastern setting, and what we've seen so far indicates that the Western forces will battle local militia. You can create your own custom trooper, selecting from nationality and appearance. Then you can customize things further, right down to being able to create a unique uniform for your clan or player group.

Even better, you'll also be able to download Confrontation from the PlayStation Network Store--for a price, of course. It will also be available in a retail package, so you have a choice as to how to get the game. Then again, if you own a PS3 and enjoy realistic, tactical shooters, there's really no choice. You'll have to play SOCOM: Confrontation when it launches in November.


Do you have a favorite on the list, soldier? Or is your preferred tour shipping out after 2007? Leave a comment and sound off!

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