505 Games Arma II review
First there was Operation Flashpoint, which was astonishing but a little buggy.
Then there was ARMA, which was so buggy that it was almost unplayable in single-player mode. Now developer Bohemia Interactive brings us ARMA II: a soldier sim that's amazingly broad in scope, staggeringly detailed and, yes, buggy.
Make no mistake, this is a far better game than ARMA could ever be. The presentation is slicker, with models that are realistic and well animated. The voice acting is also far more professional than before, although units still tend to talk over each other.
Fans of Bohemia's titles are willing to put up with such niggles, though, as no-one else makes such ambitious games. ARMA II puts you in command of a special forces squad in the middle of a warzone. You have a number of loose objectives, but you decide how best to accomplish them. You can yomp through the woods, requisition some Soviet-era transport or call on your trusty helicopter to take you to each objective. Once there, you can order your men to take up sniping positions, commandeer gun emplacements or charge straight in.
When it works, it's thrilling and chaotic. Gunfire flies around as you listen to the chatter of your troops and adjust your strategy as you go. You can fly in over enemies and unleash the minigun, or assault enemy-held villages in a stolen VW Golf after you roll your Humvee. It's sandbox warfare at its finest.
When it doesn't work, you're forced to revert to a saved game. Your pilot may crash the chopper repeatedly into a house until it explodes, or your driver may decide that the best way down a straight road is through the trees next to it. Your mission may suddenly change, but if the mission screen fails to update, you can't complete it. Bohemia may fix these problems, but even if it doesn't, the incredible freedom of the multiplayer battles makes ARMA II worth buying.