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Posted on Jul 28, 2009 in Electronic Games

America’s Army 3 – PC Game Review

By DeWitt Cave

America’s Army 3
Developed & Published by the U.S. Army. Free download.

Passed Inspection: Teamwork-oriented, real-world setting, state of the art graphics, in-depth statistics.

Failed Basic: Lack of single-player missions, difficult to get into servers.

Overall, America’s Army 3 continues the exceptional game play that preceded it and provides countless hours of entertainment.

America’s Army 3 is the third installment of America’s Army, a first-person, online, multi-player video game. It is the official video game of the U.S. Army, which also developed and published it. AA3 was created with the intent of giving the player a realistic perspective of the common soldier, with the game play taking a serious approach to teamwork. Players are rewarded throughout the game by working together in teams, securing objectives, confirming enemy kills and healing wounded soldiers. Rewards include advancement through the Honor system, medals, badges and coins.

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To begin with, each soldier must complete basic training. While it’s not a requirement, if you do not finish all training exercises you will not be granted access to some very useful weapons. Basic training is pretty straightforward, beginning with the obstacle course and then moving to rifle marksmanship and weapons familiarization. The training culminates with the combat lifesaving and MOUT course. Pay attention during the lifesaving class because what you learn in this classroom will help you on the battlefield. In AA3, healing wounds is rather easy in most cases. The majority of first aid to teammates will be administered by pressing the space button, but some injuries will give you four choices to pick from. If you took notes in class, you won’t have a problem here, but a wrong pick may reduce your squad by one.

Finally, to graduate basic training you must complete the MOUT course. This entails a room-to-room course that will cover all the basic training skills you’ve learned so far—i.e., identifying enemies, using a smoke grenade and healing a teammate. Once you pass, you are on your way to exchanging fire with real enemies.

The game is broken down into five different maps; Bridge, Ranch, Alley, Impact and Pipeline. Each map is unique and requires a different strategy in order to accomplish your team’s goals. Missions can range from escorting a VIP through a bombed-out town, to defending vital equipment in a house, to securing an attaché case and bringing it to the extraction zone. Games can be as large as 26 players to a server, giving you multiple targets to choose from. If you’re lucky and do neutralize an enemy, you or a teammate must confirm the enemy kill. If this is not done, the enemy can be revived by one of his teammates and end up tormenting you later in the game. Game lengths can run as long as 10 minutes per round and are concluded when one team either completes its objectives or all enemies are neutralized.

Each side is divided into three teams with a squad leader who can set rally points and give commands to the entire squad. Teams are comprised of a fire team leader, rifleman, automatic rifleman and grenadier, with one team having the squad marksmen. The squad marksman is your so-called "sniper" but with a twist. Those who are looking to be the lone wolf and stalk their pray won’t be successful in this game. The squad marksman is equipped with M16A4 DMR with an ACOG M150 4x optic scope, not the same as sniper rifles in other FPS games. This means your role is to support your squad, not stalk and wait for the perfect shot.

In order to be promoted from private to sergeant major in America’s Army, you must advance through the Honors system, which goes from 1 to 100. Honor is achieved through what the Army considers to be core values of a soldier: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Integrity and Personal Courage. The average score of these core values comprise your Honor rating. In order to increase each value, you must perform certain duties during your missions including assisting teammates in securing objectives (Loyalty), providing medical assistance to your teammates (Selfless Services) and eliminating enemy soldiers (Personal Courage). Note that friendly fire or shooting an already neutralized enemy can decrease your core values, making it harder to increase your Honor.

Your choice of weapons in AA3 is limited to those that are currently being used by U.S. soldiers, which means that you won’t find yourself using a Desert Eagle, MP5 or .50-caliber sniper rifle. The weapon selection is even further refined by the role you select. For example, the Fire Team Leader doesn’t have the option of using the Squad Marksman–designated M16A4 DMR with scope or the M249 SAW machine gun. As of now, you have a choice between the M16A4 and the M4A1. This is a great feature, as it makes the game more engaging since you won’t find half the teams sitting in the grass waiting to get the perfect shot or everyone running and gunning against each other. In the coming months, there should be a wider array of weapon choices and upgrades to your gun, but until then the options provided will keep you engaged. The one catch with weapons is that if you do not pass the training, you won’t be able to use that weapon. Even though training missions can be tedious at times, it does pay off in the long run and is crucial for your development as a soldier.

Beyond the mechanics and rewards, the sound and graphics are what truly make the game memorable. Depending on your system’s capabilities, you may find your game truly engaging or lagging and blurry. The graphics are on equal footing to any first-person-shooter game currently on the market. From the fog on the fields to the steam rising from the vents, the game brings a real world experience to your house. As you are running for cover, you’ll hear the bullets whizzing over your head and thumping into the surrounding ground, instilling a sense of terror and fright as you dive for cover.

Even though the game has a lot of enjoyable features, there were some major problems that nearly made the rollout of AA3 a complete failure. Far more users than had been anticipated logged on the first day, and AA3 servers were completely overloaded, making the game almost unplayable, as users could not get into a server or even save their stats. The login issue had not been fully rectified and continued to be a problem at the time this review was written. Recently, more servers and a patch have been uploaded to the game, allowing for more chances to play, but during peak times you may find yourself frustrated over not getting into servers—you’ll log into the game, and then it’ll kick you back to the main screen. After a couple of tries on different servers, you will eventually find a game. My advice is to be patient, as the developers are aware of this problem and have recently implemented some noticeable improvements.

Another minor complaint is that you can’t ID your enemy from a distance, i.e., setting your sights on an enemy won’t confirm that you neutralized him or give you his ID. While this creates frustration with some users, this element reflects the real-world situation the game simulates.

Overall, America’s Army 3 continues the exceptional game play that preceded it and provides countless hours of entertainment. Battles are intense yet strategic, and winning comes down to the team that work best together. Teamwork is key to a successfully career in AA3 and is the most rewarding to those players who aren’t looking for the run and gun type of game. Despite its sub-par launch, you will be hard pressed to find another free game that absolutely hits the mark in this popular genre. Those who enjoy the Call of Duty, SOCOM or Battlefield series but wish for a more realistic setting will find America’s Army 3 the perfect solution. AA3 was created as a recruitment tool, and the game can be so addicting that the army may find its ranks increasing after players experience the ideal blend of teamwork, real-world maps and engaging battles.

ACG Rating – 89%

ACG Intel:

America’s Army 3

America’s Army: The Official U.S. Army Game @ Facebook

4 Comments

  1. The following information is technically incorrect according to open sources:

    Your choice of weapons in AA3 is limited to those that are currently being used by U.S. soldiers, which means that you won’t find yourself using a Desert Eagle, MP5 or –.50-caliber sniper rifle.–

    M107 .50 Caliber Long Range Sniper Rifle (LRSR)
    The M107 Long Range Sniper Rifle (LRSR) is a .50 caliber rifle with attached optics/electro-optics that supports all weather, day/night tactical dominance via rapid-fire direct fire engagements with armor penetrating, incendiary, dual-purpose ammunition. The M107 is based on the Marine Corps M82A3 Special Application Scoped Rifle.

    M107
    U.S. Army PEO Soldier Photo
    930×540, 127K, JPEG

    M107
    U.S. Army PEO Soldier Photo
    1024×638, 217K, JPEG

    M107 with AN/PAS-13 Thermal Weapon Sight (TWS)
    U.S. Army PEO Soldier Photo
    1024×681, 254K, JPEG

    If you look up the M107 you can find many pictures of U.S. Army PEO Soldiers firing the weapon as part of the fielding initiative. It is being included in the Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI) for use in Operation Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

    V/R
    Noah Emery-Morris

  2. Noah Emery-Morris is correct that the Barrett M107 is fielded by the Army; however, it’s not a weapon one would find in the infantry squad context of AA3. .50 LRSR’s are issued to dedicated independent sniper teams.

  3. The game preaches Army values but the project staff certainly doesn’t support them, let’s talk about loyalty, the game used to support Linux and Mac clients and they dropped them off back in 2.5 like garbage, now that’s loyalty.

    Recently an Army Veteran was banned from their forums for ridiculous warnings, for example making a statement that they felt another user who open expressed support for anti-government movements like waco and ruby ridge and their support for radical militia waiting for the opportunity to overthrow their own government “may” have been brainwashed by terrorists, belittling loyalty shown by a Veteran, who has sworn to defend this country against all enemies, both foreign and domestic, the very value the Army claims a soldier and a Veteran would be expected to have.

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