TOP 100 GAMES
Evan: What’s more PC than an open-world sandbox
that honors your ideas? Arma loves freedom as much as
Minecraft, demands more synchronized teamwork than
classic Rainbow Six, and—with a native mission editor—is
more moddable than Half-Life.
No other game has equipped me with a set of strange,
semi-practical skills. I can recite the NATO phonetic
alphabet. I can read topographical maps. I have a ne w
appreciation for compasses. I can tell you what a “staggered column”
troop formation is. I can estimate ranges. I can (finally) float seamlessly
into conversations about the trade-off in ammo capacity versus stopping
power between 5.56mm and 7.62mm rounds with my crazy, gun-loving
Half of Arma is commuting to the action—hiking, flying, floating, or
driving at-scale, often for kilometers—but the sparks of genuine tension
and emergent war waiting at the end are always worth it. Here are a fe w:
When you’re face-in-the-grass and a dragonfly whirrs through your
optics. Shooting out the tail rotor on a helicopter with an MG. Hijacking
anything. Phoning in a ground target to your friend overhead in an F- 35,
laser-targeting it, and holding your breath as the bomb falls so you can
hear the detonation. That feeling of having something deeply important
(e.g. “Guys, guys, guys—they have anti-air.”) to report to your teammates
over radio. Rocket-strafing a village. Landing a first-shot headshot at
400m because you dialed-in your sights correctly. Hell, just map-read-ing—having an eye for safe LZs makes you an asset to the team.
All that stuff adds up to Arma being a profound war story generator.
During one co-op mission our Blackhawk pilot had to fly us no higher than
30m off the surface to avoid radar detection. Over several clicks of variegated desert. We sat silent in the belly of the helo, clearing comms so our
ace could concentrate. He got us in alive. And then, for a full hour, he
waited on the ground, on-call, while 30 of us scrambled over Takistani
hills like rats, raiding a radar base. He wasn’t bored; he delighted in his
role, and in the mutual military story we were writing with our decisions.
He kept the engine warm for us. He was our getaway driver.
Arma’s imperfections exist only because the developers attempted
something ludicrously ambitious (64-player, high-fidelity warplay with
realistic systems, hundreds of weapons and vehicles in a hundred-mile-wide warscape). But the emergent moments waiting to be mined from it
are so personal and potent that they stick in your glands for weeks.
#224 VOLUME 19, NUMBER 3 MARCH 2012