by Jeff Gates
reviewed on PC
The sound is not the best I’ve ever heard in a game. While it gets the point across it just feels a little underwhelming. In many cases the sound effects, especially gunfire and explosions, just sound muddy and don’t have the same punch as is heard in other FPS games. Overall, I’m not completely dissatisfied with the sounds as they do provide some depth to the game, I just feel that more time and effort could have been taken to give them a more visceral and real sound, considering the depth and attention to detail taken with the other aspects of the game.
This of course leads to a discussion of the voice acting in the game. The voice acting in Operation Arrowhead is very difficult to classify as ‘good’. The only way I can call the voices in Operation Arrowhead good is when comparing them to the voice acting in ArmA II’s original campaigns. In the original campaigns, the voice overs are as bad as any I have ever heard in a game. I am not sure if the developers are not natively English speaking people, because if they are not, this oversight is completely understandable. There is a wild incongruity between the words being spoken in the game and the complete lack of any kind of predictable emotion in the voices of the actors doing the speaking. Operation Arrowhead, by comparison, has mostly resolved the absolutely atrocious voice acting in the original campaigns. The voice acting in the plot-related in-game speech is not terrible, although it could certainly be improved. Speech for the normal in-game actions, such as AI squad mates responding to orders or reporting spotted enemies is made up of individual words patched together to form sentences. The tone of voice changes with each word, and the result sounds like somebody reading a shopping list out loud more than forming a sentence; broken sentences like, "Unknown. Man... very close! at. 12... o’ clock" become something you just get used to hearing.
A crash course in collision
The physics in ArmA II are not great. You can ram a tree with an armored personnel carrier and it will fall over, but in a random direction not even related to the direction you rammed it from. All ground vehicles are somewhat plagued by solid objects on the ground, which sometimes present insurmountable obstacles even though they are only a foot tall.
A rock a foot high can, very possibly, bring a tank to an immediate stop and potentially even damage the treads or the armor itself. There are numerous glitches and issues surrounding the game physics while on foot or in any vehicle. While Operation Arrowhead does seem to have resolved some of these issues that were found in ArmA II, the experience is still not quite as smooth as it could have been.
For the hardcore
Overall, ArmA II: Operation Arrowhead brought many improvements to the ArmA II gameplay. New features have been added that in some cases make some cumbersome gameplay elements a little less cumbersome such as the new feature that allows you to access nearby containers from your inventory screen and quite a few others too numerous to mention. Other new features add a great deal of depth to the game, new types of mission objectives, new gameplay elements such as the ability to control the new helicopter drones, and other well thought bits of gaming goodness.
In addition to a huge package of gameplay, ArmA II and Operation Arrowhead are also full of something else: bugs. All games have them, some more than others. The more complicated the game is, the more bugs it seems to have, and this rule holds true for ArmA II. While it would be unfair to say that Operation Arrowhead has as many bugs as ArmA II, it would be a lie to say they have all been fixed. In fact, it is probably fair to say that Operation Arrowhead retains most of the bugs found in ArmA II. I will not go over the list here, as there are better places to find information about it, and countless forum discussions beating that horse to death; suffice to say that if you play ArmA II or Operation Arrowhead, you will find bugs, and you won’t like them. But if you are willing to overlook these annoyances for the literally hundreds of hours of immersion and entertainment that can be had in the Combined Operations package, you will be glad you took the time to do it.
Those gamers looking for a game that will let them run full speed into a room full of enemies and blast them all to death with a shotgun while simultaneously lobbing grenades everywhere would be encouraged to look elsewhere. However, for any fan of the Arma franchise or military action combat simulations, ArmA II: Operation Arrowhead is a great addition to the series; new features, a HUGE new map, new vehicles, new missions, new factions, these guys have been busy. It is impossible to find a more realistic example of a military combat simulation that encompasses such a huge variety of gameplay into one neat package.
Massive game, fantastic online co-op.
Weak sound and bad physics.