A New Release of the Official U.S. Army Video Game
A quiet, provincial town square sits abandoned with a light dusting of snow covering the buildings and grounds. There are taverns, an open-air market, even a desolate laundromat that is complete with vending machines offering items like fresh sparkling “Fizzoline” and crunchy “Cortees.” The side of one building is plastered with political posters from imposing strong-arm politicians. This is one of the scenes from Uptown, the latest release from America’s Army video game.
America’s Army is an action-packed, authentically scripted, first-person shooter game and the official video game of the United States Army. It is available for free to Soldiers and civilians alike. America’s Army is produced by the Army Game Studio, which is part of the Army’s Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) Software Engineering Directorate at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. The new Uptown scenario was released just this past April.
“We had several maps that were set as training environments and we wanted to bring those environments to life,” said Daniel Kolenich, executive producer for America’s Army. “Uptown is the same layout as Downtown [the original training version of the game, created in 2002], but it is not just for training. [Uptown can be played] as the actual mission location that the Downtown training area was built to rehearse.”
Though the game is primarily a combat mission, it still includes several training options. The trainings are short, multi-player game scenes that use fast-paced maps designed to sharpen small-unit maneuvering skills.
A virtual walk of Uptown’s urban streets reveals plenty of good fighting positions – sandbags, abandoned armored vehicles, dead-end alleys – to make this scenario an excellent addition to the world of America’s Army. Alpha and Bravo teams, the game’s designated opposing forces, have a good field of play to battle over during realistic squad engagements that feature authentic Army gear and tactics.
Uptown includes a new map plus head and voice customization and enemy weapon support that have been added to the MySoldier menu. Players can opt for multiple mission objectives, including extracting intel and escorting a VIP to safety. Between rematches and game screens, players can view short videos featuring real Army experts sharing everything from tips on PT, to clips of actual past joint training exercises.
The game allows players to team with other users who are online at the same time, and it is generally easy, once in the game, to find a welcoming band of brothers and sisters in arms to virtually fight alongside. According to Kolenich, players have been coming to the game in droves. Perhaps this is because of the unique perspective it offers.
“We are seeing several thousand new accounts created every day with 30,000 unique players daily,” Kolenich stated. “Since it is the official U.S. Army game, it offers an authenticity that players can’t get anywhere else. It’s based in reality – players can imagine Soldiers performing the missions they are playing and use the weapons that are in use by Soldiers today.”
In America’s Army, players are in the role of an 11B Infantryman as part of a Long Range Combined Arms-Recon unit. Throughout the series, U.S. Army Soldiers are deployed to a tiny fictional foreign nation in the middle of a desperate conflict. What starts as a humanitarian relief effort quickly escalates into active combat.
The game offers unique game play that mirrors the training, skills and technology used by U.S. Army Soldiers. It even requires users to employ teamwork and leadership skills to accomplish the unit’s mission. When playing the game, choosing actions that make the game characters display values such as honor, integrity, a sense of duty and selfless service influences player success within the game. Players can experience just a tiny bit of being a Soldier – in a virtual world.
When creating the America’s Army video game, AMRDEC incorporated Soldiers and Army subject matter experts in every step of the design, development and testing. They went so far as to ensure the games’ characters were authentic in nature by modeling the movements of the characters after real Soldiers. Their movements were recorded at AMRDEC’s motion capture studio and then integrated into the game.
Equipment and military hardware in the game include the M9A1 and M1911 Pistol, 870 MCS shotgun, M14EBR-RI sniper rifle, M24 sniper rifle, M4A1 assault rifle and the M249 SAW. Also included are the M67 fragmentation grenade, M106 Fast Obscurant Grenade and the M84 Stun Grenade, as well as optics like the M68 Close Combat Optic, M553 Holographic Weapon Sight, M150 ACOG 4x Optic, Elcan M145 and Ghost Ring Sight.
In the game, players can apply self-care to treat any injuries their characters may receive. This keeps them from losing a life, which allows them to remain in the game until mission completion. They can also offer buddy-aid to wounded squad members and bring those players back into the contest.
The game supplies integrated Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VOIP, for efficient team communication. Other customization options are the camo pattern of the team, the gear load-out to the Soldier, the ability to unlock weapon skins on weapons and ability to obtain new optics.
The popularity of America’s Army has grown over the years, and dozens of new version releases have been provided. Its brand has expanded to showcase the Army through a variety of products, including a comics series that can be downloaded from the game’s website AmericasArmy.com.
America’s Army is rated “T” for Teen by the Entertainment Software Rating Board and can be downloaded for free from the PlayStation Store.
Kolenich encourages Soldiers and civilians alike to visit AmericasArmy.com often. “We are working on new weapons and maps, so stay tuned to our website and our trello board at Trello.com/b/NzgMh61m/aapg-roadmap.”
By STAFF WRITER Matthew Liptak