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By Mokman30-09-2013
Bis18marck70 (editor)
BloodyFanGirl (editor)

The Defence

Bohemia Interactive
Bohemia Interactive
Shooter, Simulator
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel i5 2300
AMD Phenom II X4 940
Nvidia GeForce GTX 560
AMD Radeon HD 7750
4 GB
20 GB
10, 11

The Case

ARMA 3. There is a reason for that melodramatic start, and it is simple: a melodramatic start is fitting for a review of a game designed to leave people in awe. For those who have been living under a rock all these years, the ARMA series is a hyper-realistic military combat simulator designed to give as authentic combat experience as possible to those playing its games. It has pursued this goal to such a point that Bohemia has even been contracted to create military training simulators to train real armies.

As an individual currently serving in the military forces then, ARMA is of special interest to me, serving as less of an escapist fantasy from my own job but more so an interesting analogue to the realities of combat technology and procedure. ARMA 3 is the most ambitious iteration of the series yet, featuring nearly 270 square kilometres of terrain in which to battle upon, with photo-realistic terrain and a mind-boggling array of equipment and vehicles. Yet, does it live up to its promise, or does it sag beneath the weight of its own dreams? Read on to find out.

The Trial

Of course, as can be expected from a game such as ARMA 3, one of the most vital areas in which it must excel is the gameplay. After all, with it being developed by those who have created authentic military training simulators, it must then provide an unprecedented level of realism but, as with all games, must still be entertaining. It is my absolute joy to tell you that the gameplay in ARMA 3 is not only hyper-realistic, but also an immense amount of fun. A description of gameplay may not sound the most visceral experience, as not much intensity can be found in the statement "I crawled through grass for twenty minutes and then shot a target eight hundred metres away". Yet, the immense satisfaction of pulling off a manoeuvre like that in-game is unparalleled. There is a distinct lack of given information in this game but this is done so purposefully such as to reflect reality, while adding to the tension. Finding out that my arm was broken, that my aim would judder violently when recoil hit, worked wonders for my immersion.

Stay close buddy.

Stay close buddy.

Gunplay is heightened to an amazing level, with bullet drop and shooting accurately modelled. These mechanics do not get in the way of gameplay though the gunplay is frustrating at times but that is in fact a part of the game. This is a state that would infuriate those jumping in expecting another Call-of-Duty-esque shooter, but it also delights fans of realistic shooters and I can attest to the fact that in real-life, shooting on the move with a huge field pack strapped across your back and a heavy helmet weighing down on your neck is nowhere near as easy as when you are on the range. However, there is one minor flaw in the shooting mechanics that could use some tweaking, and that is the fact that bracing is nearly non-existent in the game. A sad state of affairs for those toting light-machineguns and sniper rifles, where a strange phenomenon exists whereby lying prone on the ground gives a better aiming position than braced against a window.

A huge inventory is included in the game, ranging from a myriad of different weapons to small but flavourful items such as watches and, most importantly, cool hats. After all, nothing pleases me more than seeing my straw-hat toting hipster soldier running around the battlefield blowing tanks up with my man-portable Titan missile launcher. They have even accurately depicted how one would go about carrying such items, with three areas - the individual, his load-bearing vest (which in reality is a hateful and complicated beast), as well as a field pack (as with before but worse). Unfortunately, the developers have somewhat underestimated the mobility and fatigue reserves of modern-day soldiers, resulting in my character wheezing as if he was about to get a heart attack after a mere four hundred metres light jog in full gear - a state of fitness that in reality would get him nowhere near the front lines. Still, this is where the most entertaining portion of the game comes into play - vehicles. And entertaining they are but still with arcane controls ensuring that you would only land the helicopter where you needed to half the time, and crash it into the tree-line the other half. Yet, piloting or driving these vehicles about is incredibly atmospheric, and also a whole load of fun, mowing down troops with your weapons while the teamwork of the crew members ensure that your fragile hull is not pierced by an anti-tank round.

I’ll just rest here for a bit.

I’ll just rest here for a bit.

As for the campaign, well, there is none. Not yet, at least, but we have been promised a full campaign in episodic form with a fair amount of polish and the whole attention of the development team - so I guess that is something to look forward to. Yet, as you will discover later in this review, maybe it is not even needed...

But first, let us touch on the other aspects of ARMA 3. As with all current generation games, we come first to the graphics and what a mixed bag it is. On one hand, ARMA 3 totes photo-realistic terrain taken from satellite imagery, detailed models laden with fine points that altogether form a beautiful object or piece of terrain, and absolutely beautiful weather effects. This is perhaps the first game I have encountered in a long while which has actually made good use of bloom effects, rather than it being an annoying glare. Night vision and heat vision are surprisingly authentic while not impeding the acquisition of targets more than it has to - realistic but stopping just short of frustrating. Unfortunately though, when presented as a whole, ARMA 3 does at certain times seem a bit mismatched, most distinctly with the character animations causing wonderfully crafted models to descend into the uncanny valley as their actions still render stiffly and jerkily. It is of course impossible to have made animations as perfect as these graphics, not with our current technology in such a huge playground, but it could have been better. It is then somewhat incongruous that the cocking animation and ejecting of spent shell casings from sniper rifles have been so beautifully animated, only to have the spent shell casing disappear into the ground.

No such flaws exist in the audio side of things, thankfully, but rather this is where ARMA 3 has surprisingly excelled. Explosions spark off wonderfully, while the whizzing of bullets past your fragile frame sends chills right down the spine. Vehicles rumble with a low growl, planes roar past drowning out everything else, while the background radio chatter adds a slight accompaniment to the louder thrum of rifle-fire. This orchestra of sound blends together perfectly to form a symphony of combat, almost unprecedented in how satisfactory it is.

Make sure to scout the location before going in.

Make sure to scout the location before going in.

Let us not forget what we are here for though. It is telling that the single player campaign has not even been released yet, despite the game itself having been launched, and it is for good reason. The main focus of this game, after all, is the multiplayer and the mods. It is then infuriating that Bohemia did such a horrible job on the multiplayer server browsers, with the current build throwing me randomly into a game every so often, and arcane menus confusing at every turn. The multiplayer UI leaves much to be desired and the inclusion of a field manual in the menu does nearly nothing to assist players in sorting out such issues.

Push aside the dross though, and you shall find the true gem of ARMA 3. The multiplayer is incredible, true, with the maps already provided by Bohemia, the incredibly fun Escape from Altis map having been an absolutely hilarious blast when I attempted it with another sixty or so people. We basically spent the whole time running about grabbing vehicles when we could, running out of gas, and then blowing up thanks to an errant AT guy. We never even got to see the airfield we were headed for.

Just like playing a video game.

Just like playing a video game.

The editor is convenient and easy to use, simple enough that beginners should have no problem jumping in, but wide-ranging and complex enough to create some truly great maps and mods. And the community has delivered amazingly. I have personally sampled almost a dozen, but just to let you know the jaw-dropping nature of these maps, let me name only one: It is titled Universal RPG. And while the title is not exactly exciting, the concept and implementation is just downright astounding. Basically it spawns you in the middle of the island with a tiny base, labelling you as a small military force. You are given a starting amount of command points, with which you may purchase assets ranging from weapons to entire cohorts of troops and vehicles, to artillery support and helicopter taxis. Then, you are given the task of taking bases and holding them all about the island, with the reward of even more command points to play around with - not to mention a huge variety of side missions ranging from sabotage to assassination to hostage rescues. It was simply amazing and even right now I am still playing that same map...for nearly thirty hours and counting.

The Verdict

What is truly amazing about ARMA 3 is it's ambition. Is it the most polished of games? Definitely not. Take any modern shooter and you would most likely find a smoother experience awaiting you than that found in ARMA 3. But where it lacks in such routine concerns, it more than makes up for in sheer breadth, size and mad genius levels of scope. It is a game that could and would only exist on the PC, as it showcases what exactly makes the PC a still-valid gaming platform: impossible scale, incredible mods and irrefutable passion. ARMA 3 is not perfect, it doesn’t try to be. What it is, is simply awe-inspiring.

Case Review

  • Incredible Scope: There is no shooter anywhere near this expansive or comprehensive.
  • Titillating Audio and Detailed Graphics: Immersion in this game does not come simply from the gameplay.
  • Vibrant Modding Community: Just few weeks since it’s been released and I’ve already seen some truly amazing stuff.
  • More to Come: Bohemia has promised further content to be released as time goes by.
  • Difficult: The curve is by no means balanced for beginners.
  • Unpolished: With such a huge game, it comes as no surprise that it is at times unpolished.
Score: 4/5
Flawed at times, but as a whole, astoundingly amazing.


I love the ARMA games. Though it can be frustrating to play, with horrible AI issues in the story campaigns, poor performance optimization and a clunky interface that asks you to have at least six hands on the keyboard at all times, the series is truly one of a kind. ARMA 3 is a true sequel in every sense of the word and, by keeping the things that worked, fixing the things that didn’t and expanding and adding new elements, Bohemia Interactive clearly seek to take the franchise to new heights.

ARMA 3 doesn’t ship with a full single player campaign - that is to be released free of charge later - but it does have a full level editor, fully functional multiplayer and some showcases to familiarize players with the various mechanics and systems - some old, some new. The first thing you’ll notice is just how beautiful ARMA 3 is. The world is lovingly crafted and feels realistically detailed despite the enormous size. The second thing you’ll notice is that optimization has taken a backseat during the development of the game. The showcases mostly run well, but once you take your first steps onto the online battlefields with 64 players, you shouldn’t be surprised if your framerate converts from FPS to SPF. As it stands now, fighting huge battles in multiplayer is more or less impossible unless you have the most state-of-the-art PC ever built. Still, patches have been released and more are on the way. There are plenty of community-made scenarios that you can play in co-op with a few buddies, and the official showcases themselves can keep you entertained for hours as you learn how to drive, dive, fly, shoot and die the same way real soldiers do.

Overall, ARMA 3 is mostly more of the same, but improved and expanded upon. It is a significant step up from ARMA 2, with most houses now being enterable, controls feeling more intuitive, beautiful visuals, better driving physics and sound design, and many other minor and major improvements across the board. However, ARMA 3 doesn’t escape the trappings of its ambitions completely unscathed. Performance needs improvement, and the AI is still questionable. The current lack of a single player campaign is odd but will at least be free for all ARMA 3 owners. Even with its various issues, it’s not hard to argue that ARMA 3 is still one of a kind and that no modern military shooter even comes close to reaching the same ambition. These types of games are what the PC platform exists for - you’ll be doing yourself a favor by having this in your collection.

Score: 4/5


By now every gamer knows about ARMA - the infamous game that has THAT zombie mod. And this is the next-gen so it must be even cooler, right? Well, wrong! It seems Bohemia Interactive learned a trick or two from a lot of AAA studios about marketing. ARMA 3 was supposed to be a game to rule all other games...military simulator games that is (note the simulator part). Unfortunately, even though the game is a step up in the right direction, it is far from what has been promised; there is no campaign, the map is much smaller and duller than advertised, the game sometimes runs very poorly, it is still stiff and clunky and, depending on the weather, it can look awful.

ARMA was never a very entertaining, quick to satisfy or perfect game. It is more of an “experience generator”. Every battle, be it in co-op, mission or multiplayer, will leave you with a story to tell your friends, be it of a great battle you witnessed from a distance, or one you participated in. It is always epic, especially when the heavy equipment is put into play. If you are in the correct mood, have loads of time, and are ready for some military role-play, you definitely will be having the time of your life. Just make sure your server is full of people who know what they are doing...

But as much as I love ARMA, I still feel let down. That is due to the game not being as perfect as expected. I know, it’s stupid but I can’t help but feel hate for the game when it takes ages to get into the vehicles, when I can run faster up the hill than a tank (or car for that matter) and when clunky controls or stiff and slow animations kill me. But when I die, I wait to respawn and excitedly return back to the action. You know why? Because 8 out of 10 times my death happened in a spectacular way or I did something amazing just before dying. And I know this twisted relationship between me and the ARMA series will last for a long, long time.

Score: 4/5
Comments (5)
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Posts: 1548

Well to be honest 30 fps in any multiplayer and/or shooter isn't really good...

Thank god my performance is well above that.

Posts: 1317

The point of the game is what you make of it. There is multiplayer, there is (upcoming) singleplayer stuff, there's modding and there's the showcases. As long as there is enough content in each component, it doesn't matter what individuals find "the point" of a game being. Yes, the game currently is not up to snuff with the performance (though a recent patch has improved it), but there is enough content to keep people entertained for many hours already, even without the campaign. Something that makes the game well worth the money.

And 30 FPS isn't so bad, Xidio. You played through Dark Souls with no more than 30.

Posts: 1548

This is unique game with major flaws but few very strong points that net it such a strong review.

Posts: 341


Even though no one can play it with consistent framerates?
My friend Inexia on steam has a 3930K and a 780 with 16GB RAM, Game on SSD and it still runs at ~25-30fps in Multiplayer (THE POINT OF THE GAME)


4/5 for a broken product wth man!

I cant get more than 20-30fps in multiplayer either, unless I want to play Stratis. 680, 8GB ram, 2500k@4.3 and ssd.

Posts: 1317

I totally understand that you were let down, Stunt. I too felt the same concerning the performance. Since DayZ managed to rake in so much damn money for Bohemia, I had hoped they could get the game running smoother. It looks great, but mother of god, multiplayer is impossible at this stage.