America's Army: Rise Of A Soldier
In the first-person-shooter arms race, America's Army coulda been the new superpower. Check its arsenal: You get a novel character-building system that lets you divvy up experience points among seven skills (including stealth and reflexboosting honor). You choose between seven different roles, from a just-out-of-boot-camp rifleman to a night-stalking special-forces badass. And the game is Uncle Sam approved: Real soldiers served as advisors, which explains the authentic radio chatter and realistic take on everything from aiming to squad tactics. So it's too bad that the missions themselves suffer major malfunctions. Despite their frantic firefights, they're completely canned, with enemies--and even your allies--going through the same motions every time. And the lack of enough checkpoints means you'll replay these battles so many times, you'll see 'em in your sleep. You'll also need to redo missions just to get experience points (be sure to build your honor skill, or you'll shoot worse than a stormtrooper). Online battles, of course, are much less predictable and definitely more fun--at least once you build your skills to where you can wield the better weapons.
Playing army man reminds me of my days with the Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon squads: lots of pin-point shooting of enemies (aka folks that don't speak American) from as far away as possible. It's not flashy--goofy animations and drab graphics take a lot of gung-ho out of this fight. But building up your character's skills and the variety of soldier classes make this a shooter/role-playing-game hybrid that's beefy and rather replayable. It can get impossibly difficult at times, though. I noticed the Xbox Live competition was very friendly, too--a big difference from the jerks playing Halo 2. Perhaps military games draw more Southern hospitality?
This is not just an adventure; it's also an Army recruitment tool. America's Army offers a cool, RPG-ish character customization element, but then you'd better put a cork in any independent thought to survive the mind-numbingly linear campaign mode. Both friends and your brown-skinned foes (brown because of muddy, murky graphics...or racial profiling?) are crushingly stupid. On the upside, the online multiplayer's wide and elaborate game types and maps help offer some redemption. And as Shoe said, most players were refreshingly supportive nonasshats--just like real Army gentlemen.
Download America's Army: Rise Of A Soldier
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP