It was on July 4, 2002, that the US Army released the original version of America’s Army, its free, multiplayer first-person shooter designed to be both a recruiting and public relations tool. While you can’t fault the Army for wanting to launch the game on the nation’s birthday, in retrospect it might not have been the wisest thing to do. With most of the gamers in America having the day off, demand on the Army’s servers was crippling, and there were the inevitable teething issues as well. It took days, if not weeks, for the Army to finally sort things out, but America’s Army eventually proved to be a major success.
America’s Army 3 is the latest installment of the US Army’s official game. It’s a first person shooter (FPS) featuring a rigorous training section and online multiplayer games. The Army has issued a major new revision called America’s Army 3, but this time it launched it on June 17. However, again, strong demand and technical issues managed to overwhelm the servers, and it wasn’t until a couple of weeks and some patches later that the game is finally in a reliable, playable state. And while there are still certainly lingering bugs that need to be squashed, this new America’s Army is a remarkably compelling and authentic team-based game.
So what’s America’s Army 3 all about? Well in simple terms it’s a team based FPS, like a cross between Battlefield 2 and Counter-Strike: Source. You play as either the US Army or the Opposing Force who are generic baddies, and battle for various objectives on a variety of maps with an array of real and fictional weapons – the fictional weapons are used only be the Opposing Force.
Built on the Unreal Engine 3.0, America’s Army 3 looks much better than its predecessors, but there are not only cosmetic changes. The training sections, which are a big part of the game, are now totally optional. While they can sometimes be a bit of a grind, you will unlock better equipment for completing them, so it’s worth it in the end. The best first stop on your path to wading through the game is training. The assault course, the firing ranges and so on and so forth. This is time consuming and such a spectacular gaming cliché in the modern age that it was as much as I could do not to take my M16, Charlene, into the toilet muttering to myself and hoping for the opportunity to gun down the drill sergeant.
Upon launching the game you have to create an account and a soldier. Your soldier can unlock new skills and level up over the course of your time playing the game, in much the same way as you could in earlier America’s Army games. The actual creation of a character is, by modern standards, very lame indeed, with the ability to choose from a large pile of ugly faces to slap into a uniform that covers most of it up anyway.
- Very tense gameplay
- Five varied multiplayer maps
- Lots of training missions
- Graphics are not outstanding
- Multiplayer can involve lots of waiting
America’s Army 3 is a serious FPS game, but if you invest time in it, it can be very rewarding even if it’s missing the Hollywood action and drama of popular shooters like Modern Warfare. The fact that it is completely free to play is a major plus, especially when you consider the quality you’re getting. There won’t be any cash shops for you to waste your money on, only a fair environment where you can test your skills. The tactical gameplay is a refreshing change from the usual mindless twitch-fest that most FPS games have become, too. If you’re looking for a modern tactical FPS, fire up Steam and download America’s Army: Proving Grounds today and you won’t be disappointed.