Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Molasses going uphill

"So, what'd you do last night?"

"Oh, I ran about 5 klicks."

"Good exercise?"

"Ummm, maybe for my military dude."

Arma 2 could be described as a running simulator - one in which you happen to carry military hardware. You can't run with your sights up. Walking with the scope up induces a bob in your weapon that's incredibly disorienting.

An early mission tasks you with supporting an amphibious invasion from a high overlook point. Your job is to lase targets for missile strikes. In a "normal" military game, this would be twenty targets in five minutes. In Arma it's three targets over five minutes and you see all of twenty enemy infantry far, far off in the distance.

The game is as slow as molasses. Going uphill.

Whether this is a bad thing remains to be seen, however, as I'm all too conscious of how standard military shooters have altered my expectations. The game told me there was an invasion but my squad was deep in-country destroying a comm tower and (on the way) freeing abused prisoners. Well, I tried to free them: my Chernarussian's a little rusty and the rape victim thought I was a terrorist of a different stripe.

I've read that real war is twenty-three hours and fifty minutes of boredom punctuated by ten minutes of sheer terror. Arma 2 captures the slow pace of what I imagine to be normal military operations but the dry presentation and low production value has yet to effectively show the ten minutes of terror part. A counter-sniping mission gave me problems for quite some time until I took a slightly different route and suddenly the objective cleared. One of my squad killed the sniper. I think?

What I am sure, however, is that it's a very different experience. On the one hand it's very relaxing to walk from objective to objective. On the other hand, enemies are rarely more than a head bobbing through a treeline 150 meters off, so getting complacent means death.

I'm thankful that others do this in real life to protect us.

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