Arma might sound like an acronym, and although it's often confused as being a contracted alternative to 'Armed Assault', the name of Bohemia Interactive's last game, it's actually a Latin word. Given how few people are fluent in Latin these days, it's probably worth spelling out what 'arma' means: defensive arms, weapons, war, soldiers.
You shouldn't be shocked to read therefore that Arma II isn't a cutesified Japanese RPG in which your objective is to grow large flowers and play the lute. Instead, it's a game about modern warfare - and we don't mean Call of Duty either. This is warfare on a wholly different and much more epic (and unforgiving) scale.
Arma II isn't for the faint hearted - but if you think and play like a solider it can be a hugely rewarding experience.
Arma II is developer Bohemia Interactive's third attempt at one of the most ambitious concepts in gaming - a complete all-emcompassing military simulator, aka a milsim. Get used to that abbreviation because it's going to save us all an awful lot of time.
That it's taken three attempts and two different publishers, probably goes some of the way to showing the scale of Bohemia Interactive's ambition - rather than taking the traditional approach of developing a FPS, flight sim or tank sim, Arma II gives you the freedom to fight the way you want, whether it's stomping through a muddy field with an assault rifle, hitching a ride in the back of an APC, or swooping down from on-high in a fighter-bomber or helicopter.
Arma II is definitely more of a simulation than a traditional game
Unlike other game developers, Bohemia Interactive has two fortes - it not only makes games, it also makes proper, full-on, multi-million pound simulators for the military, such as Virtual Battlespace 2. Although you can pick up a personal edition of VBS2 for a cool £275, as I noted in my recent playtest, VBS2 is not actually all that much fun - and while I like arguing the various merits of the different marks of Sten SMG, it isn't suitable for all audiences.
Arma II has clearly been designed with fans of the milsim genre in mind - even on its easiest difficulty/realism settings it's a very unforgiving game. Still, if you want a richer experience than what most generic alien-blasting first-person shooters provide it's well worth exploring Arma II.
The PC and console markets are flooded with first-person shooters, some of which are marketed as realistic combat simulators, but in reality very few if any of them actually achieve that aim and if you play Arma II the same way as a typical first-person shooter you'll be dead before you've left the FOB. To let you decide whether Arma II is right for you we're first going to try and summarise the main differences between a milsim and first-person shooter because really it doesn't come down to whether or not the game is good, but more 'Will you like what Arma II offers?' There really isn't anything else like this on offer, you see.