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2009 Is The Year... Of The Military Sim

Feature: Operation Flashpoint 2 versus ArmA 2. Fight

Love your war brutal and realistic? 2009 is your year. Two open-world soldier simulations are coming, both of them with serious heritage.

The first is ArmA 2, a sequel built by the military nuts that created the greatest soldier sim ever in Operation Flashpoint, Bohemia Interactive. They're obsessive on detail but light on polish, as their last game, the first Armed Assault, showed. Fixing this should be their first priority.

The second sim is Operation Flashpoint 2. A new team, working to produce a game with the same relentless detail, but with a modern level of style.

Both games are real contenders: expect to spend much of 2009 stalking through bushes for the perfect sniper shot.

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OPERATION FLASHPOINT 2
Why does the game's setting matter?
It's a real island, Skira, which lies to the northwest of Japan and is thought to house massive oil reserves. Both China and Russia claim it, but China's invaded, so Russia's gone running to NATO and the US has come sprinting towards the oil.

How big is it?
Skira encompasses 220km2 of varied landscape, with towns, forests, valleys, industrial complexes, mountains, swamps, beaches and even a looming volcano. Don't fret. According to the most recent surveys, it's dormant.

How real is it?
Skira exists, but it just isn't sexy enough. Codemasters found a similar island - Kiska - and modelled that instead. Ballistics are realistic, injuries are fierce and environmental damage, like Cliff Richard, is catastrophic and persistent.

How obsessed are they?
Very. Codemasters have 70 artists just for weapons and vehicles, while two full-time researchers whip reality into every crevice. Missions are based on actual US wargames and even the AI 'knows' the reality-based tactical playbook.

Can we all join in?
Multiplayer modes include a co-op option, most likely for the entire campaign, while a mission editor is joined by an AI playbook editor to allow for some major online customisation. Expect more announcements over the coming months.

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ARMA 2
Why does the game's setting matter?
Chernarus was once part of the USSR but it's been re-taken from the pro-Western government by Communist-nationalist types after a long and bloody civil war. Again, it's a real-life political powder keg/flashpoint/shitstorm.

How big is it?
At 225km2, Chernarus is five square kilometres bigger than Skira. Have that!

How real is it?
Though a fictional country, Chernarus is also modelled exactingly on real terrain from satellite imagery. It has dynamic time and weather, plus wind deflection and accurate material penetration. It also has civilian and even wildlife populations.

How obsessed are they?
Unbelievably, as you'd expect from the creators of the first Flashpoint. Killing civilians increases support for guerrillas, you get 73 weapon and 167 vehicle types and enemy AI offers striking realism without any scripting or waypoints.

Can we all join in?
ArmA 2 already has a thriving multiplayer scene for hardcore simmers. Bohemia Interactive promise 'multiple' modes and persistent battles for the sequel, with the potential to host 100-plus players, and a mission editor.

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