Gameplay and Graphics
One of the more grating features of America’s Army 3
is the fact that it is not remotely immersive. Although combat is quickly fatal there is no more of a sense of reality to the game than you’d expect to find in Counter-Strike
. Partly this is the fault of the graphics - despite the fact the game is based on the ubiquitous Unreal Engine 3, it looks terrible. It doesn't even stand comparison to games from a few years ago such as Battlefield 2
. In keeping with the game's background as a promo for actual modern warfare, the developers have aimed for an understated look, and achieved it, but achieved it to the point that the whole thing seems tepid.
Couple this with controls don’t feel sharp or accurate enough and you quickly get a sense your character doesn’t seem within the world in an entirely convincing way. There are some nice little details such as the meticulously accurate reloading and jam clearing animations, but in the context of the visuals as a whole they're diamonds in the rough. While the visuals are below par the audio is positively rudimentary: gunshots and bullet impacts sound weak and non-threatening, which is ironic given that combat tends to be quick and lethal. A gun that sounds like a typewriter will cheerfully drop your squad in seconds.
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Despite the obvious flaws there are some things to like about America’s Army 3. For a start, it is free to download via Steam, which is hard to argue with. It’s also unforgiving - much more so than Battlefield 2
and its ilk. It's not easy to hit a moving target and when you do they will die, which means the game is always high stakes. This ruthless streak gives the game an edge, and hardcore FPS players should definitely check it out because it's certainly a game of skill.
Structurally, there are also some interesting systems in place within the game, such as its approach to health and healing. Players who are shot will quite often be incapacitated and a medic can patch them up, but this takes some skill as you need to choose the correct treatment - attempt the wrong type of healing and your man stays down.
It also takes a while to heal, so the process leaves the medic vulnerable. The damage system isn't too shabby either. When you hit a guy in the leg he’ll hobble away, hit him in the body and his armour will soak up most of the hit. The maps are typically rather uninspiring and feature predominantly close quarters fighting. They're not badly designed per se, but a combination of weak graphics and general blandness don’t help liven them up.
If you like your FPS games hard, calculating and brutal, then America's Army 3
is worth a look. As long as this is the case and you don’t mind if they're designed with all the finesse of a lard sandwich then fill your boots, it’s a free game after all and you may well love it. To the average and casual gamer however, America’s Army 3
is a lot less appealing. The lack of immersion, the difficulty and the ruthlessness of gameplay online is certain to put off those who lack the killer instinct. The array of cool stats to track your progress and the promise of points for things that don’t directly involve killing people give the game a slightly fluffy visage, but it’s a ruse. America’s Army 3
takes no prisoners and even if it did you surely would not want to be one.
With better looking and more accessible alternatives already littering up bargain bins all over the place there are many good reasons not to bother with America’s Army 3. Unike Arma II
, it’s no military simulator, it doesn’t compare favourably as a team shooter and even for free it’s not a great bargain.