You Have Been Re-purposed...
Despite the desire from many gamers for more realistic military shooters, there's an inherent catch to actually designing one. War is a brutal, fear inspiring, experience which combines being under constant threat of injury or death, high stress, confusion, and exhaustion. And that's just when dealing with a commanding officer, let alone the enemy! The question that remains is: “Why would I actually want to simulate that at home?” Sure some ex-soldiers may be missing the good old days and want to give a run at a safer experience at home, but for most, a game is a form of electronic entertainment, and and an accurate simulation of a negative experience wouldn't be worth the plastic case the game is stored in. The challenge for the developer is how to create a game that's both realistic for combat, yet is still a fun form of entertainment. Too fun, and it's not real. Too real, and it's not fun. Compromise toward realism, and most gamers will complain about how bad and difficult the game is. Compromise toward fun and the tactical simulator crowed will complain about it being an arcade game, not a simulator. Either way, it gets tons of negative feedback. Is there a wonder why Codemasters and Bohemia are the only two studios willing to even try it?
Pulling back a bit and looking at the compromise here objectively, it's easy to say they did a great job. Yes, it's a compromise. Yes, you're going to see product reviews by consumers condemning it no matter what. But objectively, the compromise is about as good as can be made. The realism is there. Wounds to a specific body part will injure that body part. Let it bleed out and you die. Patch it, and it's still weak. You may not be able to run or aim like you used to. There's no such thing as an inconsequential hit with the exception of your armor slowing a round down to cause negligible damage. Bullets can, and often do, kill in one hit. Explosives certainly do. The landscape is vast, with lengthy travel time between locations, and finding a vehicle will often save you a lot of time and trouble. Yet vehicles become bigger targets...while they may be fast, they're also obvious, and anti-tank guns, attack choppers, and mortars will be locking onto you far faster than trying to slink through the woods; It's better to go on foot all too often. And you did know that enemies can shoot at you though the glass, right? Just checking.
Often times the confusion of a battle is quite real. Shots are zipping past, but it can be difficult to make out from where. You may be able to tell the direction, but camouflage was originally designed for much more than whiz-bang skins to use in multiplayer gaming; it makes enemies difficult, if not impossible to spot much of the time. And if you only have an assault rifle on you, by the time you get close to the enemy, they'll probably have already hit you with a snipe shot, machine gun nest, or pure dumb luck and overwhelming numbers. Thus, using the terrain to your advantage becomes an absolute requirement. Understanding bullet trajectories, and how subtle gradations in landscape affect it is imperative, and knowing that the fastest way to get from point A to point B is usually going all the way around a coastline (assuming you don't want to die,) are simply essential to surviving your mission. Utilizing your squad mates through commands in the radial menu is at times a far too tedious process, but is simply essential to making it through. Sending them to flank a fortified position from the hilly left while you distract them from the front can be the the deciding factor for survival, as would be expected in any real combat situation.
The missions are split along a variety of objectives. Some missions have you take on the role of a spec ops team deep in enemy territory. Most of these having you moving at night, often attempting to remain stealthy, and either cause acts of sabotage, recon, or clearing an area. Other missions center around your squad of marines in a larger battle with other squads participating either along side you, or in other areas on the map. Objectives are fairly fluid and change according to situational changes lending to the feel of real world chaos that takes place in a battle. While it would have been nice to have more missions available, the ones that are included are sufficiently lengthy and have a good momentum to them.
The adjustable difficulty slider in the game doesn't work like most games where health is decreased, enemies do more damage or are more numerous etc. Instead, the difficulty is always on “nightmare.” What changes as you increase the difficulty is the screen. The assistance provided on the screen, from the compass, enemy indicators, health indicator, ammo/weapon indicator, and waypoint indicators gradually disappear from view as the difficulty is set higher. At its hardest, there is nothing on the screen at all, no waypoints, and no checkpoints. As in real life, your squad must make it from the beginning to the end, complete all objectives, and not get killed in the process. I recommend this for experienced real military personnel (or former Flashpoint/ArmA veterans) only. The rest of us don't have the tactical knowledge to make a go of it, and the frequent deaths will become more frustrating than the already frustrating frequent deaths that reset you to a checkpoint a distance back.
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