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Platform PC
Coop Players 4
Max Players 32
Developer Bohemia Interactive
Publisher 505 Games
Engine Real Virtuality 3
Release Jun 17, 2009
Genres Action, First-Person Shooter, Tactical Shooter


Grit 8.0
Synergy 8.0
Implementation 2.0
Longevity 8.5
Depth 8.5
Fun 7.5
Overall 6.7


campaignCooperative Campaign
dropinDrop-In/Drop-Out Multiplayer
onlineOnline Multiplayer
modUser-Made Content

On Steam

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Launch Steam


ArmA II is a modern military first-person shooter by Bohemia Interactive, who also developed the game's predecessor, ArmA: Armed Assault (ArmA: Combat Operations in North America). Both games are spiritual successors to Operation Flashpoint, which was also developed by Bohemia Interactive. While ArmA II is not a full-on military simulator, which Bohemia Interactive also designs for the military, it is about as close as you can get while still being considered a game. There are also many aspects of the game that have real-time strategy elements.

The campaign is designed for four players, and if you have less than that, the AI will control the unused players. As the story progresses, it introduces you to more and more aspects of the game, until the final mission, which pulls out all the stops and shows you what the ArmA II warfare module can do. While the campaign isn't very long, you can simply play the multiplayer mode if you want and just be on a team with your friends against the AI. While there's no storyline attached that way, the gameplay is still incredibly intense and addicting. During the campaign, you mostly just run around on foot with your teammates, but some missions put you inside of tanks and other vehicles. In the warfare module, it's almost as if you are playing an RTS, except you are a single unit and have an entire army on your team being controlled by a commander.

As each mission starts, you are given a briefing and a small selection of weapons which you share with your teammates. Once you begin the mission, what happens next depends on the difficulty setting. On the highest difficulty, all you are given is your mission, a map, and a GPS, and you need to figure out for yourself where you are and where you need to go. During each mission, you are also given optional tasks, which can effect the final outcome of the game. You need to be very careful in every mission, because you will die almost immediately if you are shot, and you lose the mission if any of your characters die. Each mission is usually quite lengthy, so having to restart can be a pain. The game does allow you to save on some difficulties.

However, one of the best parts of the game is the warfare module. You start off at your headquarters, and you need to gain money and supplies by capturing nearby towns. As you gain supplies, you can build more buildings that produce more units. When you have enough money, you can buy those units. Such units include new infantry that you can control within your squad, vehicles, tanks, helicopters, and planes - though you get planes from an airfield, not from your base. The end goal is generally to find the enemy team's headquarters and destroy it, though the victory condition can be changed in some cases. This all takes place on a truly massive map, giving you tons of scenery to enjoy. Furthermore, the spawn locations of the headquarters are random, giving you a slightly different experience every time. This mode is a lot of fun to play, even if you just play against the AI with your friends.

ArmA II gets a nod for its mod-ability. If you desire, you can hunt down all sorts of mods on the ArmA II modding community websites to customize your game experience. These can range from simple maps and missions, all the way to total conversion mods that overhaul the game mechanics. Recently, the most notable of these is DayZ, which is discussed below. Another popular total conversion mod that we have been trying out as of late is Advanced Combat Environment 2. It enhances the realism and intricacy of the gameplay greatly, but not without drawbacks.

In conclusion, ArmA II is the end-all-be-all of modern military realistic shooters. Some console fan-boys will cry foul over the suggestion that Call of Duty isn't the best and most realistic shooter ever made, and various PC fan-boys will probably do the same for the Battlefield series or some other crap. But the fact is, Bohemia Interactive makes actual military simulators for the military (see VBS1), and ArmA II is simply a more gamer-friendly version of those. You don't get better than that if you want realism.

Operation Arrowhead

A full expansion for ArmA II was released on June 29, 2012. It adds a new cooperative campaign and a new large country, along with various new weapons and vehicles. The campaign is unrelated to the original ArmA II campaign except for a few references. While the original campaign gradually increased in scale as you went on, and only had minor aspects carry over from mission to mission, the Operation Arrowhead campaign varies greatly based on your action in each mission. The scale stays mostly the same throughout, but completely different missions can load depending on which objectives you complete.

The expansion also improved various game mechanics, but it was too long ago to distinguish which mechanics of the current game came from Operation Arrowhead. One notable change is the improved Takistan armory, which gives you and your friends a nice sandbox to play around in, using all of the weapons and vehicles in the game.

At this point, it's hard to separate ArmA II from Operation Arrowhead. You'd have to go out of your way to buy either of them by itself, and if you do, you'll be making a mistake. You should look for ArmA II: Combined Operations, which is a combo containing both ArmA II and Operation Arrowhead.


In mid-2012, a zombie mod was created for ArmA II known as DayZ. Though there were already several superior zombie mods for ArmA II, DayZ took a lot of elements from each of them and added in one new important feature: a persistent world. Your gear and location are saved on a central server, so you can stop playing and rejoin any game server, retaining all of your current gear. The mod had potential when it first came out, as evidenced by the fact that hundreds of thousands of people purchased ArmA II just to play it. Unfortunately, the mod only went down-hill from there. Every new feature made the game significantly less realistic and more tedious, to the point that it was no longer worth playing when we last checked in on it. After all, everyone knows that in real life, you literally die of hunger and thirst if you don't eat a full meal and drink a bottle of fluid every 20 minutes, along with whatever other ridiculous mechanics they've added to the game since.

It pretends to be a highly realistic, multiplayer, persistent, zombie survival game; but in actuality, it is a very unrealistic, tedious, player-vs-player shoot-em-up game that happens to have some zombies in it. To top it off, ArmA II was a relatively buggy game to begin with, and DayZ escalates most of the bugs to the point of being nearly unplayable. Ladders, doors, staircases, and even random rocks on the ground are the most dangerous things in DayZ, as interacting with them has a random chance to kill you or cripple you.

Next up are players, which are almost as dangerous. Because the mechanic allowing you to identify hostile players was removed, the only intelligent reaction to seeing a player is killing him immediately. You can idiotically spew pseudo-psychological nonsense about human interaction in survival situations until you reach voting age, but the fact is, this is a video game. None of that crap applies, especially when the game has no method by which to communicate with people around you. All you can do is type in global chat and hope the other guy somehow figures out that you're trying to talk to him, and not one of the other 30 people in the server. By the time you type that, he will probably have already killed you, because he's probably not a moron.

Coming in dead last on the danger scale are the zombies, which is a very bad sign for a game that is supposed to be zombie survival. The only time the zombies even matter is when you first spawn and need to find a gun, as you have to enter zombie-infested areas to obtain one. All that really does is make it harder for you to participate in the player-vs-player shoot-em-up gameplay of DayZ, which is the primary activity of the game. Another important note is that the zombies run, rather than shamble. While this makes them a little more threatening, the fact is that running zombies are as dumb as vampires that aren't killed by sunlight. The correct form of the zombie survival genre consists of hordes of shambling zombies and very few methods for dealing with them. While other implementations can work, DayZ's is not one of them. The zombies run faster than you do and never run out of stamina. The only reason they don't catch up to you is the game's terrible path-finding, which causes them to zigzag constantly. And yes, the zigzagging makes them very annoying to kill.

In short, DayZ was a cool idea with a lot of potential, but ultimately failed at what it was trying to be in just about every single aspect possible. If we rated it, it would probably compete with Serious Sam 2 for the rank of worst cooperative game we've ever played. Its popularity can easily be explained by the current zombie fad, perpetuated by TV shows like The Walking Dead, and people's desire to play a game that gives them the same experience. It'll pass someday, and then people will remember DayZ as just another terrible zombie shooter. Actually, they probably won't remember it at all.

Posted by Nick on Mar 8, 2011. Last updated on Jun 18, 2013.