We all know the partially unspoken rule of sequels in computer games, movies etc. Its basically the law of diminishing marginal returns. I’ll throw this accusatory pint glass directly at the Call of Duty franchise as a first point of call (I’d mention Mario but you know what, I regard that franchise more as a sick corporate experiment than anything else) but there’s plenty of examples out there. But I’ve realised that I’ve been somewhat hypocritical in my extroverted loathing of sequels. I’m actually looking forward to a few of them right now. So like all good hypocrites, I come before you to justify my position rather than to abandon it. Allow me to begin my justification by stating that these game series are either unique, constituting a genre in and of themselves, or games which began their own genre and are still the exemplar of quality in that genre. So without further ado let me start with the first game on my list, Arma3.
The Arma series is probably the only commercially accessible combined ops military simulator out there. Lets be honest and admit that Codemasters only succeeded in spawning an abomination when they tried to continue the Flashpoint name without Bohemia Interactive’s input.
The Arma series has to rate as one of the most involving game series I’ve ever played. I’ll admit right here, the original Operation Flashpoint came out well before I abandoned my clamshell blue & white iBook for a gaming PC. The first Arma game however, I sunk so many hours into it wasn’t funny (not according to my girlfriend anyway). I never finished the SP campaign, but that wasn’t what I found engrossing about the game. I spent about 500 hours making and playing missions in the mission editor and playing with the vast array of mod content available. The ability to craft your own missions with incredible scope (once you’ve learned your way around the sometimes frustratingly obtuse software) was and is unparalleled by any other game out there.
As hinted at previously the Arma series boasts one of the most enthusiastic and talented mod communities I’ve ever encountered. Despite the increased graphical quality and thus the increased amount of work the modding for Arma2 was even better. From the Advanced Combat Environment (ACE mod) to the recreation of the original Flashpoint with the Cold War Crisis mod. I’m not even mentioning the mod that’s meant I’ve been able to share the joy and frustration of this incredibly ambitious milsim with my friends, zombies and with the jerk sniping in Cherno.
Given DayZ is set to become a game in its own right (hopefully with the version of the Real Virtuality engine that Arma3 uses) I will be one of those diehard Arma hipsters (yep thats right, I liked Arma before it was cool) waiting for Arma3 with bated breath. Nothing else lets me create missions with the degree of scale and intricacy as the Arma series. With the enhancements to the engine and the improvements that seem to be present, I am so keen for this game its positively unseemly. Hypocrisy or not, this is one sequel that as far as I’m concerned, is totally outside the rules. Arma3 looks to be an insane step forward, fixing the lack of realistic physics which has been the bane of the series. It also looks set to introduce a gear system which allows custom loadouts and weapon alteration, a boon for players and modders alike. A new storyline, new gear to play with and an entirely new map drawn from a scaled down Aegean island. This is one sequel which I feel is totally justified.
Hello mission editor. Goodbye social life.