ArmA: Cold War Assault

ArmA: Cold War Assault

Cold War Assault - War is hell!
Developer / Distributor: Bohemia Interactive
Release Date: 9 Aug 2011

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Rating: ESRB – Mature

Introduction
Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis was released by Bohemia Interactive and published by Codemasters back in August 2001. The game is an impressive military tactical shooter that included a huge campaign spread over several large islands of Eastern European origin. It also allowed you to control a squad of up to 11 team members run by the AI, and provided many realistic land vehicles and aircraft to drive or fly.

The game was quickly followed up with the release of the Gold Upgrade which included the add-on Soviet campaign Red Hammer, as well as an expansion by the name of Resistance that came with an interesting campaign centred around the reluctant hero of the resistance movement.

War is hell!

Fast forward till today and you’d be glad to know that the developers Bohemia Interactive have updated the graphics engine and repackaged Cold War Crisis and Resistance into a new release. They also announced that the Operation Flashpoint series will henceforth be known as Armed Assault: Cold War Assault (ArmA: CWA).

ArmA: CWA is not a game released in isolation; the rationale behind the re-release was for Bohemia Interactive to bundle their entire Armed Assault series into a tenth anniversary mega-collection. Known as ArmA X: Anniversary Edition, you will get Arma: CWA, ArmA, and ArmA 2 in one huge boxed set. This bundle alone is going to keep you busy for many many hours.

For this review, I’ll be taking a look at ArmA: CWA only. Follow me, as I take a look inside the game…

ArmA Cold War Assault Arma X: Anniversary Edition
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Game Play
First off, let me quickly cover the four modes that you’ll get to play with in ArmA: CWA.

Campaign: There are two campaigns in CWA – Cold War Crisis and Resistance. In the first campaign, you must survive boot camp training before you can take on the lengthy 40 mission campaign. The second campaign with 20 missions has you becoming the leader of the partisans seeking to wrest control from the bad guys who have conquered your homeland.

Single Missions: I counted 18 standalone single missions for you to have fun with here; make sure you double-click on the word Resistance to access the 6 additional missions.

Memories of 1985

Multiplayer: Ever wanted to play in mass battles against human opponents. Well, at least 16 can duke it out together on one of the maps. Otherwise, you could play against AI bots from the selection of 30 maps. In terms of multiplayer game play variety, there’s deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, cooperative, demolition, and even oddities such as paintball.

Mission Editor: The mission editor in CWA is quite easy to use; you have a mission wizard that will help you create a mission without too much muss and fuss. If you don’t feel like creating missions, then you can try downloading some of the great customized missions found on the Internet.

Here I am practising with bots… before I head online

When you first start off the Cold War Crisis campaign, you will be introduced to the basics of the game. You will be playing through a boot camp style of tutorial and will be expected to perform standard shooter tasks such as running from point to point, boarding trucks and waiting for it to reach the destination, running an obstacle course, collecting ammunition and reloading your weapon, hitting targets at a shooting range, and so on.

Beyond the tutorial, you will gradually start to experience the difficulty of the game. You won’t be thrown into the deep end of the pool at first, but as the campaign develops, you will shortly find out that the realism of the game is gritty and quite authentic. There are many chances to get killed, so you really have to work with your squad members. Hit the dirt whenever you hear gun reports, or the red haze of death will become a common sight.

Just point and shoot

You will be treated to many elaborate movie scenes that uses the in-game engine to tell the ongoing story in both campaigns. The story in the campaigns are rather interesting and long. They also feature some rather interesting characters that add much needed chatter and occasional humour to brighten up the shadows cast by the hulking figures of war and death.

When you get into the thick of battle, instructions will be barked out by your squad leader. It makes it all suspiciously sound like computer generated orders. You will be told to head to this waypoint, or to take out the enemy at one o’clock, and so on. All units in your squad are identified by numbers, so be sure to find out which number refers to you at the start. Incidentally, whenever a clock direction is announced, remember to also look out for the little clock that appears at the bottom left; it shows you which direction is being inferred by the squad leader.

Yeah right, G for jeep!

To communicate with your squad, you will have to get used to employing a numbered menu system that is used to issue movement and attack commands. There are of course other commands such as mounting or disembarking a vehicle, watching a particular direction for enemies, changing formations, or even getting first aid.

The primary weapons of war for infantry feature the M16 semiautomatic rifle, M21 sniper rifle, AK74 Kalashnikov, the Dragunov sniper rifle, the Uzi SMG, Glock 17 and Beretta 92F pistols, and grenades. There’s also a rocket launcher around in the game, if you play long enough.In the game, you can enable weapon view which shows your gun sights across your display. You will move slowly in this mode, but at least you are at your most accurate.

Stay still!

ArmA: CWA features an impressive overhead mission briefing screen that shows everything you will need to plan your mission.

There’s a compass and expensive looking Swiss watch at the upper right corner for directional and timekeeping information. These update real time, so if you were being driven around, you can see the compass spinning to show the direction that you are heading in.

You can zoom in or out on the map if required. When zoomed in, you can see the map divided into square grids. The map grid references (located at the edge) are used quite often in the game, so you will find yourself referring back here to find the exact location that is being referred to by a character.

Who needs GPS when you have your trusted compass?

A handy little organizer with four tabs line the left side of the screen. The four tabs are Plan, Notes, Gear, and Group. Plan lists out the objectives you must meet for the particular mission you are playing, Notes contain diary entries written by your alter ego in the game, Gear shows you the gear you and your squad are carrying in the mission, and Group shows you the current troop roster.

Due to the nature of this game, you will find yourself fighting your enemies often from a great distance. ArmA: CWA features several sort of enemies – infantry as in regular soldiers, engineers, grenadier, machine gunner, LAW soldier, and Spetznaz (Russian special forces); land vehicles as in tanks and truck loads of enemy soldiers, and; aircraft like the sinister Mi-24 Hind helicopter. You even get to ride in or drive a few of these yourself; the handling of these vehicles is very arcade-like, so I’m sure you’ll come away very satisfied.

An arcade style flight simulator mode

Graphics
The base CD installation of Cold War Crisis only allowed me to select pretty low texture settings. However, with ArmA: CWA, the textures have been ramped up into the thousands (8096 x 8096 was the max on my PC). If your system is powerful, you can couple it together with the other graphics settings such as maximum objects, level of detail, and geometry performance. There was some marked difference to the look of the textures, and I would agree that they tend to be sharper.

The terrain, buildings, and vehicles in the game all look very detailed. There is a lot of attention to detail: for example when you ride in a land vehicle, you can see the tracks that it leaves behind, or when you patrol the forest, you actually feel like you are in one, or when you are riding inside an M113 APC, you could have sworn that you feel like you’re home (especially if you have been inside one before).

What do you mean you can’t tell the forest for the trees?

However, I did not like the look of people – soldiers, officers, Spetznaz, and locals alike. They look atrocious – with baggy looking uniforms, and deformed hands. All this is probably excusable, after all the game was designed 10 years ago, and back then the polygon count for 3D models were much lower.

Audio
The music, voice acting, and sound effects in ArmA: CWA is pretty admirable.

This definitely ain’t Kansas, Toto

Music is composed by Ondrej Matejka, or also known by the moniker of Mateus in the demo scene.  Incidentally, Ondrej composed the music for 18 Wheels of Steel: Pedal to the Metal that I reviewed 8 months ago.You can listen to the soundtrack for ArmA: CWA and 18WoS:PttM on Youtube.

Voice acting isn’t too bad, although there were in my opinion some misses. The orders being barked out is downright irritating, but I’m afraid nothing can be done about that. Sound effects are very detailed, you can even hear yourself wheezing as you sprint yourself to safety.

Victor Troska – a Resistance hero in the making

Pros:

  • Extremely large believable world to relive your military fantasies of World War III. ArmA: CWA delivers in breadth and really astounds. There is quite a lot to see and experience in the game that you’d probably be wanting to replay the campaigns long after you’ve completed them.
  • Mission objectives are varied and usually fun to complete.
  • Campaigns are long and come with interesting movie cutscenes to watch.
  • The AI is quite good (but also unforgiving).
  • You have the ability to toggle between first person and third person views.
  • You essentially get Cold War Crisis and the Resistance expansion updated to run on modern systems.
  • The mission editor continues the life of the game indefinitely.

The mission editor is not too difficult to use

Cons:

  • You character will die very often, so make sure you save. This brings me to the next point…
  • Unfortunately you can only save once for every mission in the campaign.
  • Missions usually take more than 15 minutes to complete. Make sure you have catered time to play them.
  • The missions are scripted to the point that if you deviate from your objectives too much, you may find yourself not able to complete the mission.
  • Vehicle physics is very simplified… don’t come away from reading this review expecting realistic vehicular simulations.
  • The base 3D models for humans is unimpressive.
  • There is that irritating shouting of instructions by your squad leader where nothing can be done about it.
  • The game still has the rare crash to desktop problem; make sure you save your missions.

Just following the leader, the leader…

Purchasing information
You can actually download and install ArmA: CWA for free if you are a previous owner of Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis. All you need will be the serial number from that game. I hope you still have the serial number kept somewhere safe. If you never got the Resistance expansion (or the Game of the Year edition), then you should be happy because you’re going to get to play Resistance for free.

PS – Due to legal reasons, the Red Hammer campaign is not present in ArmA: CWA but it can easily be added if you copy two files over from your original CD. Here are the instructions:

  1. Copy AddOns/VoiceRH.pbo over to the ArmA Cold War Assault/AddOns folder. 
  2. Copy Campaigns/redhammer.pbo over to the ArmA Cold War Assault/Campaigns folder.

Debriefings fill you in on how you are doing

If you are totally new to Operation Flashpoint, you can get a new serial number by purchasing either ArmA: CWA alone or getting the ArmA X – Anniversary Edition. Click on the images below to go shopping for the game.

ArmA Cold War Assault Arma X: Anniversary Edition
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Conclusion
It’s truly a godsend that Bohemia Interactive has given us Armed Assault: Cold War Assault. This game allows us to re-live some exciting battles from the Cold War Crisis and Resistance campaigns. I will never forget the fun times I had with the game series. I got to storm a beach with a lighthouse in Red Hammer, then there was the time when I had to escape by foot to an extraction point all by myself in Cold War Crisis, and the time when I made the wrong choice and got an innocent resistance soldier captured in Resistance.

Farewell to the Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis series, and long may Armed Assault: Cold War Assault live!

May it continue to live on in our hard disks for many more years to come. Perhaps, until the next ArmA XX mega-release another decade down the road?

Here they come!


The Verdict

8Great

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