Armed Assault is Bohemia Interactive's successor to its title Operation Flashpoint, an innovative, hardcore military shooter/sim that proved a smash hit when it released on PC in 2001. The dev's new venture features the similar hardcore military sim and open-world/freeform aspect witnessed in its predecessor, but ramps up the ante in every regard. We recently sat down with Paul R. Statham, PR Community Manager at Bohemia, to find out more...
Can we kicks things off by getting an overview of Armed Assault - what is the game, what's the storyline, what can you tell us about the player character, and so on?
Paul: Armed Assault is our next game, and following in the footsteps of the 2-million selling Operation Flashpoint it will be a realistic military combat game fought over large areas with complete freedom as to how the gamer completes their objectives.
The storyline of Armed Assault is focussed on the island of Sahrani, which is split between a Communist dictatorship in the North of the island and a democratic Republic in the South. The premise is that with the South being US friendly and oil-rich there is a small contingent of American troops on the island to help train the Southern Sahrani forces in the spirit of friendship and cooperation.
North Sahrani and South Sahrani have had a number of conflicts over the years and even in modern times the peace is a very brittle one - as the training comes to an end and the US troops have almost all left the Northern Sahrani government chooses to invade which leaves a small pocket of American soldiers left with no choice but to fight alongside the forces of the South.
What particular challenges do you face making a military sim experience entertaining for the PC gamer, and how have these been resolved?
Paul: Most games these days tend to use fake methods to create a sense of excitement or shock or fear, events tend not to happen dynamically and they're all heavily scripted into the game. In Armed Assault the sense of excitement and intensity as well as the feeling of actually being one small part of a much greater war machine is created by the scale of the game, its engine and the simulation of war that it creates.
Elements such as simulated bullet ricochet and bullet penetration help to aid the immersive feeling because the environment and objects around you become heavily important to your overall survival - you can't just lay under a small bush, it's not going to protect you from bullets and even if the AI don't know exactly where you are once they know you're in the general area they will use indirect suppressive fire to keep you pinned down.
A feature we've built into the campaign which will help some gamers get to grips a little better with the functionality available to them is the option in certain missions and at certain points to switch characters during play. This makes it possible, for example, to switch from an infantry soldier to being a sniper hidden on top of a hill, or perhaps a gunner in a tank. This feature is fully down to player choice, it's there if they want to use it and if not it doesn't in any way impact on the campaign's progress or mission completion.
However, using the feature will certainly allow for an extra layer of entertainment in the game, as well as allowing for exploration of all of the many facets contained within the game.
Operation Flashpoint was an innovative game when it was released. How are you similarly trying to move the goal posts with Armed Assault?