America’s Army is a free shooting game, available over the internet and through army recruiters, that allows a person to assume the role of a US Army soldier. The game is funded by the Department of Defense and US tax dollars but is available for anyone around the world to play. It originated in 1999 when a Colonel for the US Army presented an idea for an Army video game as a medium for recruiting. Since the first version came out, America’s Army has been used to supplement mail sent out by recruiting officers of the army and to give the average American the chance to see what life is like for our uniformed men and women.
The graphics of this game are absolutely stunning for a something that anyone can download free of charge. Maxing the settings out would give even state of the art computers at least something to keep them a little busy. The recommended computer requirements keep many people from being able to take full advantage of the game and see it in all it’s beauty, but even if you have to turn down the settings, the gameplay itself still makes up for it. The sound, as well, is refined to take full advantage of surround sound. When someone is sneaking around and your volume is up, you can listen closely and anticipate the corner around which the enemy will come. The recorded sound for weaponry makes one feel as if there is a war going on all around them.
The game itself, apart from training, is played entirely online with other human beings. The training starts off as bootcamp where you learn how to shoot your gun and move about. After finishing the basic training, you are able to hop online immediately and start going head-to-head with other gamers on one of several different maps. If the maps opened by basic training aren’t enough for you, then you can go back and do several different advanced training Excercise which open up more playing options including more than 30 different maps. The advanced training ranges from jumping from a plane and landing with a parachute, to medic training complete with a power point-like presentation from an animated instructor on how to stop bleeding and prevent shock.
When you decide to actually go online and play, there are hundreds of servers and options to choose from when deciding where to play. The realism of America’s Army goes so far as for certain wounds to bleed and thus cause your health to diminish over time. These are the circumstances when medics are needed. Also, once players are wounded, their speed and aiming abilities begin to leave something to be desired as the wounds are sapping your soldier’s energy. As in real life, accuracy diminishes on the run, and certain positions (crouch and prone) offer better accuracy at the cost of lower mobility. This creates an intense gaming environment in which gamers are never waiting long to see what happens next.
The ranking system of AA revolves around the “Honor” system. When playing, you are given points or have points taken away from you depending on how you play. If you are a leader, you are expected to lead your team to victory, and thus, if you lose, you will have points taken away. On the other hand, however, if you are a leader and you manage to rope a victory for your team, then you are given more points. You are also given points for successfully completing objectives and eliminating opposing forces. Every time a person plays, they are perceived by their team to be the US Army team and their opponents to be a group known as Opfor. This enables everyone to feel as though they are the good guys. To keep with Army’s values, there are also major deductions in points when you violate the “Rules of Engagement” or ROE. This is a punishment for attacking teammates without first being sure of your target and to keep make players think before they act. If the offense for ROE is bad enough, the player is removed from the game room and sent to an in-game cell to serve punishment.
The game’s 5 million registered users mean that no matter what time of day you log on, you will always be able to find a game to join. Many AA users are unwilling to remember that they, too, were once new to the game, and so beginners are often given a hard time. Most of the time however, you will find people that are willing to give you a chance and help you along the way to becoming a better soldier. The online factor keeps players on their toes at all times, because unlike computer AI, their human opponents are always likely to try something new to get the edge and win a battle. This means that every time you play, the game will be a little different and always heaps of fun.