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|Developer:||US Army (MOVES Institute, other army organizations)|
|Release date:||AA- July 4, 2002 AA:SF- November 6, 2003|
|Genre:||First-person tactical shooter|
|Game modes:||Single player, multiplayer (see text)|
|ESRB rating:||Teen (T) (13+)|
|Platform:||Windows, Linux, Mac (not all versions)|
|Minimum Requirements:||direct Internet connection (56K+) or faster, Pentium 1.3 GHz CPU+ (or 700 MHz G4 CPU for Mac. Pentium3 766 for linux), 256MB RAM+ (128MB for linux) and 2 GB hard disk space (version 2.4)|
America's Army is a multiplayer first-person shooter computer game series. It can be played using Windows, Macintosh, or Linux. It is the official game of the United States Army. The first version was free. It came out on July 4, 2002. It has been updated many times since then. The second important release was America's Army: Special Forces in November 2003. America's Army was made by the MOVES Institute at the Naval Postgraduate School. It is based on the Unreal engine.
America's Army is a tactical shooter. It is also called a "serious games". According to the game's website, America's Army "provides civilians with an inside perspective and a virtual role in today's premier land force: the U.S. Army. The game is designed for verisimilitude and to provide an accurate portrayal of Soldier experiences across a number of occupations. In the game, players will explore progressive individual and collective training events within the game. Once they successfully completed these events they will advance to multiplayer operations in small units."
On February 20, 2005 there were 4.6 million registered players, and 2.7 million of them had finished basic training. Also, there were more than 15,000 servers being used, and 1.3 million rounds being played each day. The game has been changed a lot. This keeps people interested in the game. It can be found as a free download on the Internet or on a CD-ROM at recruiting centers around the United States.
In 1999, Lieutenant Colonel E. Casey Wardynski, a professor at the U.S Military Academy at West Point decided to tell the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Military Manpower about his idea for an online computer game. His basic idea eventually became America's Army. In the same year, fewer people were joining the army.. Congress decided to use "aggressive, innovative experiments" including America's Army to get more people to join the Army.
The first release was July 4, 2002, and other changes (called patches) were added. On November 6, 2003, version 2.0 of America's Army: Special Forces was made. (Go here for more information about the different version). The Army is spending about USD$3 million a year to make more versions of the game.
Since America's Army was created, people have complained about its purpose. People have argued about the Army using its money to make a game. They are also worried about how this game will change people's lives.
In America's Army there are teams of soldiers fighting in a war. The person who is playing controls a soldier of the US Army from the character's eyes. This is called first person. Players fight as either the US Army or Indigenous forces ("IF"). They fight against a team called "OPFOR" (Army lingo for "Opposing Forces"). There are different kinds of OPFORs called insurgents, enemy forces or terrorists.
US/OPFOR Transformation for Teams
One of America's Army's different features is the way the enemies are. The players are split into two different teams. There is usually an assault group and a defense group. The assault loses the round if the time limit runs out, which is usually ten minutes.
The players on each team see themselves as American soldiers with American weapons, such as the M16A2. Their opponents look like non-uniformed people with Eastern bloc weapons, like the AK-47 (the counterpart of the M16A2 in the game). In training maps the only distinguishing features are the players' uniforms. The development team did this to make the game realistic for players on both sides. They allowed everyone to play on the side of the American forces. They also avoided the problem of asking players to kill American soldiers.
This is confusing to many players because when they pick up an enemy weapon, it works differently than the US version. An AK-47 removed from a fallen opponent is fully automatic, more powerful, but less accurate than his M16. But when his opponent had it, to him it was an M16. The important thing is that each weapon behaves as the owner sees it. It transforms when it is picked up. If people pay a lot of attention might notice that the enemies weapons behave wrong, but it is hard to notice.
Every round starts with both teams spawning at the same time. Players can join the other team, but cannot play as the OPFOR. Equipment is not bought but selected through choosing a class.
Goals and scoring system
The goal of the game is to complete the objectives, kill the enemy team. For example, one objective could be to kill the V.I.P., who is trying to survive and escape. If a player joined the other team, he would have to protect the same V.I.P. The round is over if a team wins0, or if the time limit is reached. For a listing of missions gohere.
The game remembers how many people each player has killed, how many times each team has won, how many times each player has been killed, and how well the player is completing the objectives. The game then distributes score which calculates the player's "Honor" level.
Every time a player is killed, every time he fails to protect an objective which he is assigned to defend, and especially every killing of teammates or his allies caused by friendly fire is called a violation of the ROE (Rules of engagement) in the game and has an extremely negative effect on his score and "Honor". If too many points are lost in a round, the player is put in "jail" and kicked out of the server. As of February 2005 95.2% of AA players had 0-20 HONOR points, 3.3% had 20-40 points, 1% had 40-60, and .4% had 61-80 points.
Every healing of injured teammates and every killing of opponents increases a players score and "Honor". Completing the game's missions affects a player's score in a good way and his "Honor" points as well. The score is saved in the player's account that was being used. Some servers only allow players with certain Honor levels to join. The most common is to not let anyone with less than 10 Honor in because this is the base level that everyone starts with. Some also do not let players with too much Honor in. The developers say that "Honor" is based on the values of the Army: "Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage or Leadership". Its main purpose in the game is stop "team-killing", which is a problem in a lot of online first-person shooters (see team killer).
Weaponry and equipment
Players may select a "class" like squad leader, rifleman, automatic rifleman, grenadier, or sniper; these classes decide what weapon the player will have at the beginning of each round. Some players from each team may be medics. Medics can help their teammates get better after they get shot. Being a medic is an extra ability which is added to the class. The Honor points are used to decide which players gets which class. Players with more Honor usually get to pick their class first.
Each gun also can jam in action. When a gun jams it means that it stops working because a part is stuck. The player then needs to press a button to fix the gun. This can be a problem because it makes it so that the player cannot shoot for a few seconds. AA was the first game ever to have player's guns jam.
Every firearm in the game has either iron sights or a telescopic sight (for sniper rifles); while using the sights, a zoom effect enlarges objects in view. The iron sights enlarge to a small degree, the telescopic sights to large one. Until he stops zooming, the player's moving speed is additionally decreased.
In the first few versions, weapons could only hurt players and glass. For example, a grenade could not destroy a television but a gun could put a bullet hole in the screen. Compared to most games, the grenades and are more deadly. They tried to make the blast radius of grenades more like real life than it usually is in other games. Getting hurt by weapons always leads to some bleeding, which causes a player's health gauge to go down over time. Injuries make players slower, they also make it harder for the player to shoot where they are aiming. Sometimes, if the player does not get help from a medic, they will die.
In the newer versions of the game players can make changes to their weapons. For example, the M4 Carbine can be change in different ways and let the soldier have features that work better on a certain map. For example, on a large map a scope and a bi-pod might be picked, but in a city a player might choose only iron sights and a M203 grenade launcher.
Classes and weaponry
- Automatic Riflemen:
- Special Operations Weapons Sergeants:
- M4A1 SOPMOD including one of these options from each category,
- Special Forces: Standard M4 Carbine with SOPMOD kit including one of these options from each category.
- Top Rail
- Standard Ironsight - the basic carrying sights
- ACOG 4x Sight - a zoom-in sight for your m4a1
- M68 Reflex Sight - a dot sight for your m4a1
- HeatShield - a shield to prevent burns
- Front Rail
- CQB Reflex Sight (Must Be used with Ironsight on Top Rail) - the other part of the dot sight
- Leaf Sight (Only applicable with M203 Grenade Launcher)
- HeatShield - a shield to prevent burns
- Bottom Rail
- M203 Grenade Launcher (Must Be used with Leaf Sight on Front Rail)- a explosive shell that fires once before reloading
- Flare Launcher (Must Be used with Leaf Sight on Front Rail) - a flare grenade
- Harris Bipod - a bipod structure to stabilize your weapon
- HeatShield - a shield to prevent burns
- QD Suppressor - a silencer witch stops a great deal of the noise produced when firing your weapon
- HeatShield - a shield to prevent burns
- Left and Right Rails
- HeatShield - a shield to prevent burns
- Top Rail
- OpFor AKS-74U SpetsNaz with Modifications
- Advanced Marksmen (Sniper): Snipers carry the M9 Pistol
- Hand grenades:
- Indigenous Forces (IF):
- M141 Bunker Defeat Munitions (BDM) (new in Q-Course (version 2.4))
- AGP-DB14 Door Breacher (new in Q-Course (version 2.4))
- US Stryker Armoured Personnel Carrier looks like a Russian BTR-80 if on the other side. In old releases A 50-caliber machine gun on the roof can be controlled from inside, but cannot be driven around.
Weapons planned for future versions
- The XM25 weapon. The XM25 in AA will be an assault weapon that fires an Airburst round using a special launcher.
- TALON Robot. The robot will be a radio controlled machine that looks like the Goliath from World War II, but instead of exploding it has special tools that can be used for defusing a bomb or helping people that are stuck in dangerous locations.
- JAVELIN Rocket Launcher. The Javelin is an anti-vehicle, self-guided rocket. It can also be used against bunkers and other strong locations. In AA it will have a special scope target system and can be carried on a player's back. (Note: Included in version 2.8)
- Other planned game weapons include small bombs used to open locked doors (included in 2.8), a shotgun (also used to open doors), and land mines. The land mines are armed and placed like a hand grenade, but they would not explode until triggered. They are also working on making more drivable vehicles, like an armored HMMWV, which was in a video at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), and has also been included in version 2.8, though only in one mission.
Missions and maps
The map list is sorted by the version they were released with, with newer maps coming first. The game currently has 28 multiplayer maps and 14 single player training missions. Completing these training missions unlocks things like the ability to play online or to become a medic, a special forces unit or a sniper. Maps have different sizes, objectives, and weapons that players can have. However, no known custom maps have been made because there is no level editor for the game and the developers made it impossible for players to use the level design computer program UnrealEd, which works for other Unreal engine games.
- AA: Special Forces (Direct Action) (v2.5)
- SF Dockside
- SF Extraction
- AA: Special Forces (Q-Course) (v2.4)
- SF Courtyard
- SF PCR (Precious Cargo Recovery)
- SF Blizzard
- SF WaterTreatment
- AA: Special Forces (Firefight) (v2.3)
- Woodland Assault, a forest map where one side must find and destroy a collection of weapons, and the other side defend it.
- Urban Assault, a city map in a desert. Each side must find collection of weapons.
- AA: SF (Vanguard) (v2.2)
- SF Taiga, a winter map in a forest.
- SF Oasis, set in a desert one side must get out of a canyon and the other must stop them.
- AA: SF (Downrange) (v2.1)
- SF Village, a city map in a desert.
- SF Arctic, a winter map, one side must defend a group of vehicles traveling together (convoy). Includes Stryker vehicles that cannot be driven.
- AA: SF (v2.0 and v2.0a)
- SF Sandstorm (came with Sandstorm v2.0a), a desert map set during a sand-storm among buildings and ruins.
- SF CSAR, a city desert map with a crashed blackhawk helicopter. Can play as US Army or indigenous soldiers against the OPFOR.
- SF Pipeline, a new version of the original Pipeline map, but with SF things. The map's layout and objectives stay the same.
- SF Recon, a large desert night map in which one side must find a bunch of things, and the other must stop them.
- SF Hospital, a VIP rescue or defense map set in a city environment surrounding and inside a hospital and helicopter landing pad
- AA: Medics (v1.9)
- Mountain Pass SE, a new version of the original Mountain Pass from AA:0.
- AA: Operations
- Bridge SE (came with v1.7), a bigger version of Bridge Crossing which adds extra ways to get around the bridge and is less foggy.
- Radio Tower (v1.6), a desert map with several objectives.
- Weapons Cache SE (v1.5), a bigger and different version of Weapons Cache with different objectives.
- River Basin (v1.4), is a large MILES training map with objectives in grassy hills, in a daylight summer environment.
- Mountain Pass (v.1.3), a large winter map with lots of hills.
- JRTC Farm (v1.2.1), one side spawns in by using parachutes and must destroy a parked helicopter, the other side must defend it.
- Weapons Cache (v1.2.1), a city map with objectives inside a big building.
- Mountain Ambush (v1.2), objectives in a mix of forest and grassy environments.
- Swamp Raid (v1.2), A dark map that focuses on the rescue or defense of a prisoner. The Rescue side has night vision.
- FLS Assault (v1.2), a night map centering on the defense or attack of a field landing strip. The attacking side parachutes in from a C-17 and has night-vision.
- AA: Recon (v1.0)
- HQ Raid, a MILES map set at night, in a forest area with hills.
- Collapsed Tunnel, a dark level in sewer tunnels. Each side must secure objective points.
- Insurgent Camp, set at night in Afghanistan, the attackers must get into a building and access computers.
- Pipeline, a winter map that takes place at a pumping station in Alaska. One side defends the station, and the other completes objectives inside, such as turning of valves.
- Bridge Crossing, a foggy winter map with each side starting on one side of a long bridge. One side must stop the other from crossing.
- MOUT McKenna, a training level in a fake city, kind of like city paintball courses. This map features MILES.
Newest Version is 18.104.22.168
Version 2.7 came out June 2006
- Version 1.0.0 and 1.0.1 - America's Army: Recon — (released July 4, 2002) (Windows)
- Version 1.2.0 - America's Army — (released August 23, 2002) (Windows)
- Version 1.2.1 - America's Army: Operations — (released August 27, 2002) (Windows)
- Version 1.4.0 - America's Army: Operations — (released November 27, 2002) (Windows)
- Version 1.5.0 - America's Army: Operations — (released December 23, 2002) (Windows)
- Version 1.7.0 - America's Army: Operations — (released May 1, 2003) (Windows, Linux, Mac)
- Version 1.9.0 - America's Army: Operations — (released August 10, 2003) (Windows, Linux, Mac)
- Version 2.0 - America's Army: Special Forces — (released November 6, 2003) (Windows, Linux, Mac)
- Version 2.0a - America's Army: Special Forces — (released December 23, 2003) (Windows, Linux, Mac)
- Version 2.1.0 - America's Army: Special Forces (Downrange) — (released June 1, 2004) (Windows, Linux, Mac)
- Version 2.2.0 - America's Army: Special Forces (Vanguard) — (released October 19, 2004) (Windows, Linux)
- Version 2.2.1 - America's Army: Special Forces (Vanguard) — (released November 18, 2004) (Windows, Linux)
- Version 2.3.0 - America's Army: Special Forces (Firefight) — (released: February 18, 2005) (Windows)
- Version 2.4.0 - America's Army: Special Forces (Q-Course) — (released: May 16, 2005) (Windows)
- Version 2.5.0 - America's Army: Special Forces (Direct Action) — (released: October 13, 2005) (Windows, Linux, Mac)
- Official America's Army Website
- AA-Overview.com (Independent and non-sponsored fansite)
- AAO-Tracker (The biggest AA community in the world)
- French America's Army Website
- Americas Army Custom Mapping Website