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Military

Rising Storm 2: Vietnam photo
Rising Storm 2: Vietnam

Here's how squads and iron sights will function in Rising Storm 2: Vietnam


Help your dang squad, Rambo
Jan 23
// Zack Furniss
Last week, Tripwire Interactive began to talk about Rising Storm 2: Vietnam after announcing it at E3. Now it is further elaborating on the squad and firefight mechanics that it mentioned in the previous update. As far a...
Rising Storm 2: Vietnam photo
Rising Storm 2: Vietnam

Rising Storm 2: Vietnam aims to improve squad functionality and firefights


Easier to join up with friends
Jan 17
// Zack Furniss
We haven't heard much about Tripwire Interactive's Rising Storm 2: Vietnam since it was announced at E3 last year, as the developer been concentrating on Killing Floor 2. In what Tripwire says is the "start of many ...
Next Top Modders photo
Next Top Modders

Battlefield's top modders making 100-player hardcore shooter Squad


America's Next Top Modders
Apr 07
// Steven Hansen
The folks behind popular Battlefield 2 mod Project Reality, which my Arma and Battlefield-loving lawyer assures me is super cool, are making their own original online, team-based military themed first-person-shooter, Squad. ...
Promoted Cblog photo
Promoted Cblog

Videogames and military recruitment: Part 1


Promoted from our Community Blogs!
Feb 13
// The Scholarly Gamer
From Teaching to Terrorism Videogames have been used by many professions over the years as teaching tools, often in schools to help children have fun while learning spelling or math. As the idea of the usefulness of videogames as a learning tool has grown, we have started to see video games being used for all sorts of teaching and training purposes.

Ocultank  photo
Ocultank

Nor Way! The Norwegian Army is using Oculus to drive tanks


Tankulus rift
May 05
// Steven Hansen
Forget whether or not videogames are art. A wave of acceptance is sure to wash over the world when more people realize they can be used for war. When you're in a tank, you can't see much, what with the thick armor attempting ...
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Wargaming supports National Military Appreciation Month


Donate!
May 02
// Dale North
Wargaming's whole company is based on military history, so it's nice to see them giving back for National Military Appreciation Month. For the third year in a row they'll give proceeds from special packages to non-profit grou...
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Your first look at the SOCOM spiritual successor, H-Hour


H-Hour: World's Elite
Jan 08
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
H-Hour: World's Elite is the spiritual successor to the SOCOM franchise. After the studio went up, the team reformed into Special Operations Forces Studios and created a Kickstarter for a new third-person military shooter. The team met their funding goal last year and now we're seeing the first footage of H-Hour. The gameplay video here is all in pre-alpha, and it's looking pretty promising. .
Arma 3 beta photo
Arma 3 beta

Arma 3 beta brings more vehicles, larger scale


Also next gen fish AI, beating CoD: Ghosts to the punch
Jun 25
// Steven Hansen
Arma 3 is officially in beta, with four new showcase missions, two new multiplayer missions, and a bunch of new vehicles -- helicopters, transport trucks, minisubs -- in tow. Full beta details follow after the break. The extr...

Xbox One has 'single handedly alienated the military'

Jun 17 // Jim Sterling
"Even when the Xbox One is in sleep mode, its built-in microphone can always listen in," explains the article. "It’s a feature developers say will provide quick voice-command access to games and apps -- but that could spook commanders who might worry the always-connected device could also capture more than just idle chit-chat among troops." Videogames have become a big part of military downtime, and the Xbox 360 was undoubtedly a hugely popular choice. Don Mattrick has expressed his belief that anybody unable to use the Xbox One (basically the entire armed forces) can just keep using the 360, but I have a feeling service members will instead just migrate to the PS4. According to a local air force buddy of mine, that's already being seen as the best option by some folks.  Now we just need Jack Tretton to appear naked, wearing only the American flag and claiming PS4 is the only console to support the troops, and I'd say this generation is over. Well ... maybe without the flag bit.  No ... no, do the flag bit. New Xbox 'a sin against all service members' [Navy Times]
Xbox One military photo
Armed forces thoroughly unimpressed with Microsoft's DRM
Regular gamers have expressed quite a bit of upset at Xbox One's ridiculous DRM policies, but nowhere is the disdain more keenly felt -- nor more justified -- than that coming from America's armed services. Considering the tr...

Review: Wargame: AirLand Battle

Jun 08 // Fraser Brown
Wargame: AirLand Battle (PC)Developer: Eugen SystemsPublisher: Focus Home InteractiveReleased: May 29, 2013MSRP: $39.99Rig: Intel i5-3570K @3.40 GHz, 8 GB of RAM, GeForce GTX 670, and Windows 7 64-bit AirLand Battle is something of a military fetishist's dream, distilled into a videogame. Upon opening up the deck menu -- where players can put together their force, split by nationality and faction, for online confrontations -- I was more than a little overwhelmed by the huge array of units. Where some strategy titles boil troops and vehicles down to health, armor, and how much damage they can do, each unit in AirLand Battle comes with a long list of statistics and important information that have a genuine impact in battle.  Vehicles can run out of fuel; weapons go through ammunition; they might have a high front armor rating, but have little protection on top; some struggle while going through rough terrain, while others happily power through the mud; and they all have different ranges and lines of sight. There's so much minutiae to account for that building a deck could take longer than the match you'll be deploying them in. The build might not even last more than one match -- eventually being consigned to the scrap heap when you realize you've made an egregious error. In one of my first forays into the online battlefield, I found myself completely ineffective because I knew nothing about radar, and I was quickly punished for my ignorance.  Most of my AA support vehicles were using radar, and unbeknownst to me, my opponent was using this to his advantage. He was sending wave after wave of anti-radar fighters after my forces, utterly decimating my AA units. Without them protecting the skies, it was little effort for him to bomb my remaining forces and claim a swift victory.   I learned two things from that embarrassing defeat: every unit has an exploitable weakness, and radar can be switched off. Every match, whether ending in victory or defeat, has forced me to tweak my decks or my tactics. There isn't a cookie-cutter build, or at least not one that I've come across, and all it takes is for a half-decent player to have a force that counters all of your choices for everything to go up in smoke. This is, of course, less likely if you have a good mix of units that allows you to react to a change in the battle or a foes tactics. Having air-lifted infantry is a good way to deploy men quickly, for example, but it's useless if your enemy is just shooting them out in the sky, so it's handy to have a back up plan in the form of armored infantry vehicles.   Deploying the right units for an appropriate task and using the geography of the varied maps to one's advantage will consistently beat numbers and aggression. This is a thinking man's war, where planning and reconnaissance are paramount. There's no fog of war, and players have to rely on line of sight and radar to keep track of enemy movements. The fastest way to travel -- apart from air -- is down roads, which crisscross the maps. Yet they are often a fantastic place to lay an ambush. I can't count the number of times I've seen a force trundle along a road, through a thicket of trees, and not make it to the other side.  Elevation matters too. Garrison your anti-tank infantry in a tall building, and suddenly they pose a very real threat to the many tanks that have puny armor on top. You could send in bombers too, but if your enemy has prepared for this by bringing along some AA chums, then it will be the infantry that saves the day. Thus, there are no medals awarded to those who just churn out the most expensive tanks -- all units have a requisition cost, but more points can be earned by holding certain areas -- and send them in for the kill. Without recon vehicles they will be ambushed, without AA support they will be bombed, without helicopters or jets they will harassed by enemy jets, and if they get destroyed, that's them gone for good. There's a limited number of units per deck, so each vehicle and squad represents a significant loss if taken out. While European Escalation had helicopters, other aircraft were noticeably absent. AirLand Battle rectifies this with a plethora of jets from MIGs to Tornados. Unlike other units, when not active, aircraft aren't present on the map. Airfields don't have a physical presence, so planes are selected from a menu, do their job, and fly around until evacuated or they run out of fuel and ammo. Once they return to base, they cannot be deployed again until the cooldown counter has ended. If they are damaged, they are repaired automatically -- lengthening the cooldown period.  The addition of these new units makes AirLand Battle remarkably different from European Escalation. Air defense becomes incredibly important, as does radar; helicopters now have to deal with additional air threats when preying on ground forces; and new avenues for assault open up. Jets are wonderful at softening up targets and defending vulnerable units when they are suddenly attacked, but they have plenty of weaknesses too: they can be rendered useless without radar and can be taken out swiftly by AA attacks.   Multiplayer matches with allies requires a great deal of cooperation and communication. Quickly sending out a beacon with a simple typed message like "flanking" or "more tanks needed" is a good way to get someone's attention, and it's extremely handy to be able to communicate with such haste and have other players' eyes drawn to the area. When you're playing with people you know and there's a more direct line of communication, things really get interesting. Instead of needing to have something of an all-purpose deck, you can tailor it to what your ally already has. That way it's possible to create a predominantly air or tank deck without fear of being useless.  While multiplayer is undeniably the focus of AirLand Battle, there is a dynamic campaign that can be dabbled in, seeing NATO and the Warsaw Pact butt heads. There's a sizable international map, political events that can have a direct impact on the war, and nuclear weapons that can be deployed. It's all a bit sterile, though. Events are random, no real context is given to the conflict in-game, and the battles are restricted to 20-minute scraps, which at the end of timer result in a draw regardless of how many points one gains or how close to failure the enemy was. This bizarre limit inhibits the slow, methodical nature of the battles as seen in skirmishes and multiplayer scenarios. The campaign becomes a race to score enough points -- by destroying enemies -- before the timer reaches zero. It flies in the face of the realism that Eugen Systems has worked so hard to craft in the rest of the game.  AirLand Battle's presentation is extremely polished, if not particularly flashy. Maps and vehicles are rendered realistically, while the lighting, explosions, and land deformation are effective and believable, yet the aesthetic lacks style and character. War isn't glamorous, and neither is AirLand Battle.  The UI is surprisingly simple and unobtrusive, relaying information flawlessly while never distracting or taking focus away from the battle. Zoomed out completely, the maps transform from detailed depictions of the European countryside to tactical displays revealing units through icons, air and ground vehicle reinforcement paths, and all the key areas in the conflict.  This all goes towards the very business-like feeling that permeates throughout the experience. It's an efficient, focused game lacking in fluff; one where everything serves a purpose and has a tangible impact on gameplay.  Eugen Systems' serious, well-researched approach to real-time strategy makes Wargame: AirLand Battle a rewarding, refreshing title. Not since European Escalation have I had to work so hard for my victories, and with the addition of aircraft and the absurdly huge 20 player matches, a whole new layer of strategy and tactics has been added to an already exceedingly deep series.  
AirLand Battle review photo
The Hot War
It took a truly horrific defeat for me to knuckle down and attempt to break through Wargame: AirLand Battle's tough, uncaring exterior. I'd tossed aside the campaign, had one skirmish match under my belt, and I dived head-fir...

Can Battlefield 4's narrative be relevant after Spec Ops?

Mar 28 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]249762:47806:0[/embed] Let me say that I appreciate that DICE is trying to do something with Battlefield 4. Battlefield 3 was a multiplayer game with a useless single player portion tacked on, but this new campaign seems like it has some real effort behind it. But I don't actually like what they're doing. If the team wants people to believe it is going for something emotional and believable, showcasing the protagonist sliding around a building as it collapses and then falling several stories (with a rock immediately overhead) and landing without serious injury probably isn't the right way to do that. The completely unbelievable amputation (one knife motion cuts through a hardened soldier's leg? seriously?) doesn't inspire me either, nor does the irritatingly manipulative death of that same character just a few minutes later.  As with any criticism of pre-release footage (especially in this day and age), there is a problem of context. These 17 minutes are all shown without any greater narrative significance, so I can't rightly pass judgment on the emotional impact of the scene. It's totally possible that there are all kinds of amazing character moments that give some sort of weight to what is on display beforehand. I doubt it, but it's possible. Still, this is what EA and DICE decided was a representative slice of gameplay and narrative, and they decided to show off the single player before the multiplayer. It's a pretty gutsy move, so it's unlikely that they're showing anything less than their A-game. For that reason alone, I wouldn't feel bad making judgments, but what is on display here is also symptomatic of some larger issues that are very unlikely to change with context. Let's talk about cognitive dissonance. One of the more unique (and oppressive) features of Spec Ops: The Line was its use of loading screen tips. At the beginning of the game, they just say general things about the gameplay like any other game, but as things begin to unravel, the game starts talking to the player in a rather unpleasant way. Some of them are more direct ("Do you feel like a hero yet?") and some are more general ("Cognitive Dissonance is the unsettling feeling caused by holding two conflicting beliefs simultaneously."), but they all make a point about the role of the player and of the player character. What makes them so significant, though, is that they don't just apply to Spec Ops. It is very likely that Battlefield 4 will make the player feel like a hero in the long run (although the gameplay demo does end on a sour note), but at any individual moment there is a question of what actual good is being done. This is especially true in a world ruled by DICE's Frostbite engine. Destructible environments are amazing things. Yes, I prefer Red Faction: Guerilla's real-time deformation to the model-swap that DICE prefers (especially since it doesn't lead to those awkward moments where blowing up a wall reveals an unharmed enemy immediately behind it who is firing on you while you reload your grenade launcher), but the gameplay possibilities afforded by either are really compelling. In Red Faction: Guerilla, it didn't really matter what you were destroying because you were playing a revolutionary/terrorist. You weren't a hero in the traditional sense. Now, what I'm saying applies to the last few Frostbite-run games DICE has released (and any other game with destructible environments), but it's not something I ever considered in a pre-Spec Ops world. Watch the gameplay video over again, and think about what happens at 4:49, when a grenade blows up a large section of a building. Yes, at this moment there were enemies in that building, ones who can now be more easily killed, but that is also a person's house. Then 10 seconds later the player blows up some cars, presumably owned by civilians. Why? Because it's an easier kill.  Would that make you feel like a hero? It shouldn't. It should make you feel terrible and feel like your character is terrible. The apparent lack of civilians on the street means that it's easier to forget that the satellite dishes on top of each roof represent some virtual person who just wants to watch the news at night, but believing that you are doing good while wantonly destroying civilian property is the epitome of cognitive dissonance. One of the other features that makes Spec Ops: The Line unique, and something that will likely find its way into other games as time goes on, is a progression of in-combat dialogue. At the beginning, characters shout "Tango down" after killing an enemy; by the end, it's "Got the fucker." At 7:46 in the Battlefield demo, somebody shouts, "Kill confirmed." It's a small thing, but it's significant. Rather than attempt to downplay the violence with their language, they are openly acknowledging what they are doing, and nobody has a problem with it. It brings to mind this particularly poignant Spec Ops loading screen: "To kill for yourself is murder. To kill for your government is heroic. To kill for entertainment is harmless." We go back to the idea of a hero. This confirmed kill is heroic, because it is done for the higher purpose of winning the war. For the player, though, it's harmless, because nobody is actually dying. It's very likely at least a few people were shouting that at me a couple of paragraphs ago. It doesn't matter if digital civilians are having their homes destroyed because they aren't real. There's no reason to feel any sort of dissonance. While some of that is true, it's also irrelevant. Another loading screen: "The US Military doesn't condone attacking unarmed combatants. But this isn't real so why should you care?" In Spec Ops: The Line and in Battlefield 4, the player should care because the game wants the player to care. They don't want the player to care about the same things, but both of them want to elicit some kind of emotional reaction. Selectively reacting to parts of the game is also a brilliant example of this kind of dissonance: "Oh, I feel bad about having caused the death of this virtual man I tried to save earlier, but I don't feel bad about killing all of these other virtual people or destroying the homes of these virtual civilians because they're not real or whatever." As soon as one death or event matters, then everything else matters as well. The fact that they didn't matter at the time says something about the way people connect with the medium, but it's also not the point. The character is an extension of the player, and the player must assume all responsibility for what that character does, good and bad. That is the lesson that Spec Ops taught. It is a lesson Battlefield 4 does not seem eager to expand upon. At the end of the Battlefield 4 clip, before it goes to the montage of action sequences, it turns out that the death of the person whose death doesn't seem all that meaningful was unnecessary. In fact, the entire scene was unnecessary. I'm conflicted about the exchange that follows— "So, Staff Sergent Dunn was KIA for... something we already knew?""You have your orders, Captain." —because it could either prove or refute the point I just made. The issue is that second line and the role in plays in the greater narrative. The death of Staff Sergeant Dunn is not Captain Recker's fault (that scene could have just as easily played out with Dunn shooting the window himself); it's the fault of the people who gave those orders. So the player is absolved of blame, and now their anger (if they have any) is potentially shifted towards the people on the other end of the radio. That's interesting, but it also rings false. If the game plays with the idea of "orders" and their significance, then perhaps some of that responsibility will be shifted to the character, and then these ideas can be expanded further. That isn't to say I want every military shooter from here on out to be Spec Ops: The Line. I really don't. But a game now exists that has made generic military shooters narratively irrelevant. In 2011, Battlefield 3's narrative was useless because of a clear lack of effort. But this time effort might not be enough. This won't affect sales, and it probably won't even affect review scores, but it will affect the game's lasting significance. If Battlefield 4's campaign follows the same tropes that so many other military shooters have followed, the ones that it appears to be following despite the way they were so brilliantly deconstructed last year, then it will just be yet another campaign, distinguishable only by the number of birds that it has flying over a given map.
Battlefield 4 Relevance photo
Probably not.
In lieu of partying or whatever it is college kids are supposed to be doing, I decided that my number one priority this spring break would be to to replay Spec Ops: The Line. I joined the Spec Ops party a bit late, but t...

WWII photo
WWII

Storm the Heroes & Generals open beta now


Square Enix F2P shooter now publicly playable
Mar 01
// Conrad Zimmerman
Square Enix has just opened up the beta for their free-to-play warfare game, Heroes & Generals, meaning that you can go sign up and play right now if you felt so inclined. Here we bear witness to a trailer announcing thi...
Arma 3 photo
Arma 3

Arma 3 is going Steam-exclusive to make its 2013 release


Doing so will allow Bohemia to focus on actual game development
Feb 21
// Jordan Devore
Last year, much of the news surrounding Arma 3 had to do with two members of its development team getting charged with espionage and arrested in Greece, not with the game itself. Bohemia Interactive is "on the verge of reveal...
Arma devs released photo
Arma devs released

Arma devs freed on bail after 130 days in prison


Charges still stand against Bohemia pair
Jan 17
// Alasdair Duncan
After spending 130 in a Greek prison, Bohemia Interactive developers Martin Pezlar and Ivan Buchta have been released on a €5000/$6,672/£4160 bail. The charges against artist Pezlar and creative director Buchta sti...
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Arma 3 delayed to 'reach its full potential'


Releasing sometime in 2013
Dec 13
// Jordan Devore
Given what Bohemia Interactive has called an "eventful year," it's not entirely unexpected to see that military sim Arma 3 has been pushed back to an all-encompassing 2013 release window. "The additional development time enab...
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ArmA 3 devs to remain in jail after being denied bail


Buchta & Pezlar's situation seems to have worsened
Nov 16
// Harry Monogenis
Bohemia Interactive's Martin Pezlar and Ivan Buchta have been locked up for some 70 days now, having been arrested while on holiday on the Greek island of Lemnos. The two are accused by the Greek government of espionage ...
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Bohemia gives an update on Arma 3 devs detained in Greece


Sep 17
// Jordan Devore
While vacationing on the Greek island of Lemnos, two Bohemia Interactive employees -- Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar -- were arrested after taking photographs and video. There's been a lot of speculation since this news first ...
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Wargame: AirLand Battle announced with a nice teaser


Aug 10
// Jordan Devore
Eugen Systems is back with Wargame: AirLand Battle, a follow-up to its real-time strategy game European Escalation. This sequel retains the 1975-85 Cold War setting, in addition to the eight nations featured by its predecess...
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Much-welcomed RTS Facebook action with War Commander


Feb 16
// Tony Ponce
Friggin' Words With Friends! I wish my so-called "friends" would stop telling me it's my move when I don't recall ever agreeing to play the damn thing with them in the first place. Let's forget about that and other similar F...
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Look at the US Army's Dismounted Soldier Training System


Dec 23
// Jordan Devore
Did you know that the United States Army is turning to RealTime Immersive Inc. and CryEngine 3 for its training needs? The figure being thrown around for this project is $57 million, which sounds all too believable. Two trai...

Calling on the Dtoid Army: Operation Supply Drop

Nov 04 // Daniel Starkey
If you have some decent, new games that you don’t play anymore, send them to someone who can still get some use out of it. And don’t send E.T. or an N64 or I will personally reward you with a light gun in a randomly selected orifice. Plus if you donate over $40, you get 1600 Microsoft Points. The Dtoid crew raised nearly $7,000 together for Extra Life. I know that was just a few weeks ago, but I’m sure we can pool together just a bit more for yet another good cause. If you’re interested and want more info, fire of an email to [email protected], and if you’re funky enough to send your stuff right now, drop [email protected] a line.
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So ... November 11th is Veteran's Day. Why should you care? Well, we still have quite a few active military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan and a fair portion of those people are gamers. Enter Operation Supply Drop. They se...

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Some things are just better in Japanese


Oct 24
// Conrad Zimmerman
When I saw the above trailer crop up in my feeds this morning, the title was entirely in Japanese. Since I am barely capable of reading English with proficiency, I just went ahead and clicked anyway. And while I couldn't qui...

Interview: Six Days in Fallujah

Oct 23 // Daniel Starkey
Six Days in Fallujah was the first project of Atomic Games. They had been asked by returning soldiers to make the game, because they wanted to tell their story. Sadly, when the press heard that a video game based on one of the worst battles in recent U.S. military history was in the works, there was an incredible backlash. In many ways, their anxiety was completely warranted; it was a recent, very sensitive topic and I'll be the first to admit that games don't have the best track record of handling these sorts of issues with anything that resembles tact or finesse. I had a chance to talk to a family friend, Reed Omohundro. I had no idea he had worked on the project until I watched an older Fox News interview shown in an episode of Extra Credits. After seeing that, I thought he deserved another, better chance to tell his side of things. Destructoid: Why did you join the military? Reed Omohundro: Ever since I was a young boy, I wanted to join the military. I was fascinated with legends and lore of knights, samurai, and Roman Legionnaires. Most of my family had spent time in the military, and I was enamored with the stories they told. I was drawn to fulfilling that sense of "duty" to my country.How would you say public perception of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan differs from your own experience? Most of the public is limited to viewing the stories and recollections of U.S. media. In our culture, we relish in "sensationalism." Every reporter wants to make a name for him/herself. Every media outlet wants higher ratings. As a result, a majority of Americans see the negative aspects of war. Stories that reflect positive images of what America and NATO Forces are doing are more often than not given little notice. My most remembered comment by reporters is "This event has been the bloodiest day in the war." I heard that saying so many times I just renamed it as the "bloodiest day since the last bloodiest day."You served in Iraq for several years, could you briefly describe your tour of duty -- where you were, who you were with, time served, etc.?The first time I deployed to Iraq was in 1990 as part of Desert Shield. Later, the operation changed names to Desert Storm. My portion of the war was brief and I saw little to no combat operations. As part of Brigade Service Support Group (BSSG) 5, we made our way to Kuwait by ship. The majority of our operations were from Kuwait. In June 2004, I deployed to Iraq for combat operations as an Infantry Officer. I was the company commander for Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. Initially, we established a Company Outpost in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq to secure an Ammunition Supply Point (ASP) that was continuously being looted for IED-making supplies. In October 2004, we relocated to Fallujah, Iraq. In November 2004, we participated in Operation Al Fajr formerly known as Operation Phantom Fury. I led a company of almost 200 Marines into combat operations to secure the city of Fallujah. We returned to the states in January 2005. Later, I redeployed to Iraq in February 2007 as a member of an eleven man Military Transition Team (MiTT) to advise an Iraqi Army Battalion. During this tour, we operated in Al Anbar Province between the city of Haditha and the city of Al Quaim. Our primary accomplishment was being able to progress this battalion to a point where they were capable of sustaining operations within our sector with no American support. We mentored them in all aspects of military operations, logistics, and civil military actions.Do you play video games often? Yes, but not that often. I find it difficult to allow myself to believe the construct of the game. More challenging for me is getting the controller or keyboard to perform the actions required. For this reason, I almost never play military combat scenario-based games that involve modern military weapons. Trying to believe that a hand grenade can destroy a house, or that a rifle can continue to fire indefinitely is difficult. When I do play, I stick to Fantasy Role Play primarily. Swords and spells are not things I can associate with on an everyday occurrence. So my ability to "participate" in the construct of the game is easier than allowing myself to become annoyed with the unrealistic action of modern military weapons.  Perhaps a better example of this is my frustration with driving games. When you can’t feel the action of the car, it's difficult to judge when you're about to lose control. The feeling of being knocked back in your seat from a hard acceleration has yet to be developed for in-home gaming.  How did you get started on this project Six Days in Fallujah?  I got started in 6DF when the producer Juan Benito sent me an email and later called regarding the project. He had been in contact with Gary Livingston, the author of Fallujah with Honor. Livingston had recommended that Juan Benito contact me. Juan Benito and James Cowgill met with me and showed me a demonstration of the game. For the first time, I saw a concept of how Atomic Games planned to incorporate a documentary into a video game format. I felt obligated to participate and get the story as correct and accurate as possible.What was your goal with your involvement in this project? My goal with this project was to assist in getting the audience to understand what occurred during the Second Battle of Fallujah. As a military advisor to Atomic Games, I acted as a consultant. I would work with the designers in ensuring the characters demonstrated correct military actions.  We tried to ensure that the demolition aspects of explosive devices resembled the results of actual military ordnance. More importantly, I wanted to ensure that the story those Marines experienced was told in a format that would reach a greater audience.Having commanded and fought in the Second Battle of Fallujah, do you think the game, from what you saw, tastefully and effectively handled the subject matter? Yes. Atomic Games went above and beyond any effort I have ever seen to ensure accuracy and legitimacy for this product. Several times we had conversations regarding what stories could or should be reenacted or told. At one point, we had a dilemma as to whether or not to reenact a scene in which a Marine was shot. The company consulted with the parents of the Marine in order to get their approval.  Atomic's Director of Development, John Farnsworth, even sent out letters to the family members of fallen Marines to explain the process of the game and how it would be developed as a documentary. Additionally, Atomic exerted an enormous amount of effort in getting the graphics and characters actions to resemble real life as much as possible.Do you personally think it is appropriate to use videogames to tell these kinds of stories? Tough question. But, yes, I think it is appropriate to use a videogame to tell this kind of story when it is incorporated into the documentary construct that 6DF used. Medal of Honor [2010], formerly Medal of Honor: Operation Anaconda, was able to tell the story of those special operatives, but had to change the construct to a fictitious environment. EA Games saw the public opposition to Six Days in Fallujah and diverted the attention by portraying the storyline in a fictitious environment. 6DF planned on allowing its audience to view real interviews of Marines. By seeing these interviews, the player would gain insight to the objectives and decisions the Marines had to accomplish in order to achieve mission success for the scenarios a player would participate.Are movies or books or other media better equipped to handle the emotional weight of modern warfare? I think that books and movies do an outstanding job in allowing an audience to see "a" perspective of a single story. Movies and books relay the perspective of the author. The audience gains little understanding into the decision-making aspects that each soldier or Marine faces when involved in a combat situation. 6DF planned on breaking this barrier by allowing the audience to gain insight before the scenario, and allowing the audience to feel the emotions of making a decision that directly relates to the action of others. The understanding is that a game will never allow a player to experience the actual effects and emotions of such a decision making process, but at least they would have a better insight. Do you have any hope of seeing this game revived? I do have hope that the game will be revived. Just not in the near future; perhaps in a decade. The public seems too attached right now. As with the outcries of war photos from WWI and WWII, and movies about emotional events in combat, the public will eventually agree to allow a documentary in videogame format. Perhaps it will work out better to wait for this type of documentary. As technology increases, so does the gaming format. In years to come, this type of documentary may be better suited for a platform not currently developed.Is there anything else that you would like our audience to know? This game was being developed strictly to break the barriers of today's modern way of gaming, in both technical design and story format. By retelling the actions of Marines in combat through a documentary/videogame format, a wider audience would be reached. Not only would the audience be able to achieve a greater appreciation for what combat operations involve, they would gain an insight that no movie or book can provide.  In no way shape form or fashion did the development of Six Days in Fallujah seek to dishonor or detract from the sacrifices of the participants of that battle. Instead, it sought to honor those that served and allow their story to be told in a medium that would provide greater insight to those that were not there.
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If you haven't heard, the United States began the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq in March, 2003. In late 2004 there was a joint offensive in the city of Fallujah, an insurgent stronghold. What followed was some of...

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Arma 2: Free is now ready for download


Jun 23
// Jordan Devore
I spoke briefly about Arma 2: Free -- Bohemia Interactive's less-featured offering for those on a tight gaming budget -- during the E3 rush. That was a simple announcement post; the real news today is that the military sim is...
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Arma 3 to get a summer 2012 release, here's how it looks


May 19
// Jordan Devore
Next summer, Bohemia Interactive is giving us a break from last-action-hero modern warfare with another one of its frighteningly realistic (but still totally heroic) military sims. Yep, it's none other than Arma 3. This one i...
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New U.S. Military billing options for Xbox Live members


May 03
// Dale North
Microsoft has heard the requests of gamers in our military and now has made changes in their system to accept their addresses in Military States in their billing system. This will come as great news to our men and women stati...

Preview: Apache: Air Assault

Sep 21 // Ben Perlee
Apache: Air Assault (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)Develop: Gaijin EntertainmentPublisher: ActivisionTo be released: November 16, 2010 To be clear, usually these sorts of titles appeal to a specific fanbase. While military simulations are always popular, they have a tendency to alienate more casual users by not offering the right sort of experience to appeal to everyone. Thankfully, publisher Activision and Gaijin Entertainment have added variations of difficulty to make the game more enjoyable to different audiences. For those who would rather get in the chopper and not worry about technical maneuvers or careful flight techniques, there is the Training Mode. While it restricts you from performing certain helicopter actions, it does let players go through the entire campaign without too much difficulty. For a greater challenge, there is Realistic Mode, in which players have only three lives. For players who really love helicopter action, there is finally Veteran Mode, offering only one life and finite ammo.  The helicopters themselves are all Apache brand choppers: the Apache AH-64D Longbow, Apache AH-1, Apache AH-64X Experimental Prototype, MQ-8B Fire Scout, and Mi-35 Hind. While only major helicopter nerds will know the variations by name alone, players will find that each one controls and functions differently. Compared to airplanes, these machines need a wider turning radius, can obviously hover, and generally function in a manner very different from other flight simulators. Helicopters unsurprisingly have special abilities, and Apache pilots will be able to maneuver these machines vertically and nearly upside down, for example. These abilities range from hovering to shooting techniques. Dodging missiles is as easy as dropping altitude, yet to gain speed, the player must dive the Apache downward then swing up, much like a glider. There is a lot of flexibility with these vehicles, and it's going to require a minor learning curve even for those players who are comfortable with flight simulators. One impressive feature is how the helicopters handle variations of damage, such as flying with a damaged engine at the expense of mobility. However, certain parts, like the rotor blades, cannot be taken out without bad things happening. You get my drift. While flight simulators don't exactly offer in-depth plots, Apache: Air Assault tells the story of three different Apache crews working for a fictional UN military organization fighting insurgents across the world. I suppose it'll get the job done, but let's admit it, no one will be playing this game for the plot. However, missions themselves are rather dynamic. Objectives will change on the fly, and goals never take more than a few minutes to perform. The first level I was shown, taking place over the plains of Africa, guided us across bluffs and dusty roads while we took out insurgent vehicles. After reducing one insurgent town to rubble (hey, it was filled with no one but guerrilla terrorists, alright?), our Apache had to defend a fellow downed helicopter in a much larger city as insurgents attacked both us and the soldiers on the ground waiting for airlift. Success in this mission involved locking the Apache into a hover position, then switching over to a shooting mode, alternating between a tactical black-and-white vision cam that highlights enemy vehicles and an infrared cam that highlights enemy soldiers as solid white against a field of black. It looks pretty great, and once the rescue crew showed up, the mission became an escort mission. Within 15 minutes, missions varied from taking out targets, defensive aerial battles, and escort challenges. If the whole game can keep up with the variety, fans of flight simulators will have a lot to like. If not, they'll appreciate the free flight mode, with a whole set of variables to keep the gameplay dynamic. With regards to multiplayer, Gaijin Entertainment is taking a cooperative approach. Apache: Air Assault offers 13 multiplayer-exclusive modes with up to four players acting as a squadron to work through more team-based missions. Though online only, the main campaign can be completed as a co-operative team with one player acting as the pilot and the other as the gunner. Coming away from the game, it's clear that fans of air combat games and flight simulators will find a lot to appreciate and enjoy. Clearly, it's not for everyone, but it's a niche title for a niche audience. However, there seems to be a strong amount of polish and focus on making a helicopter title that works. It also helps that it is a great looking game with very lush and realistic geography and a solid draw distance. Hopefully, Gaijin Entertainment and Activision can keep things together and release a quality Apache helicopter simulator when Apache: Air Assault launches this November.
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Apache: Air Assault is a special beast. While it might be considered a helicopter version of Gaijin Entertainment's IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey, a military aerial simulator released in 2009, it is clearly a differ...

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Medal of Honor banned from military stores


Sep 03
// Tony Ponce
Military personnel looking to pick up Medal of Honor this October will have to do so off-site. The Army and Air Force Exchange Services has announced that the game will not be stocked in any on-base GameStop or other post ...
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Atomic's Breach delayed until 2011, getting new features


Jul 16
// Nick Chester
Atomic Game's Xbox LIVE Arcade and PC military shooter, Breach, has been delayed. That's the bad news. The good news? It's getting new features!According to Atomic's president, Peter Tamte, work on Breach was already complete...
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Wii Fit and DDR might wind up in Naval boot camp


May 26
// Conrad Zimmerman
The times, they are a'changin. It seems that the youth of America are getting too fat to join the armed forces. Our sedentary lifestyles have made us ill-prepared for military training and injuries during boot camp are on the...

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