Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


America's Army: True Soldiers (Xbox 360)

Developed by Ubisoft and High Voltage Software in co-operation with the US Army, America's Army: True Soldiers for the Xbox 360 delivers an engaging combat experience that brings players to the front lines of combat. The game allows players to learn the real tactics and strategies used by the Army in a series of training missions then applies them to realistic combat situations. All the weapons are authentic ammunitions used by real soldiers, which gives the game a realism other titles can't match. America's Army: True Soldiers also lets players compete in several exciting online multiplayer modes with challenging maps and solid gameplay. The visuals are decent, but there are some choppy moments which detracts from its aesthetics, but this is still a solidly enjoyable game that brings the intensity and adrenaline experienced by real soldiers to life vividly.

America's Army: True Soldiers isn't like most other FPS titles on the market for one key reason: it was developed using the input and advice of real US Army Soldiers, and the Army itself. This means that instead of fantasy weapons and scenarios, everything you play in the game is grounded in reality. This approach makes for a much more authentic and engaging experience than you usually see in video games. For example, instead of jumping right into combat, you'll first have to undergo an extensive boot camp where you learn the basics of firing your gun, go through several tests including an obstacle course and then go through several training missions before you're ready for combat. Once you're on the field of battle, you'll also have to stay true to actual combat maneuvers, which makes things more challenging than you'd expect, but the grounding in realistic situations also makes the experience feel more believable, allowing you to immerse into combat easier. The game allows you to play through these training missions but also allows you to skip ahead into wargames, which are scenarios designed to mimic real-world combat situations. There are distinct missions for each of the four classes, which allows you to refine your skills in each area. Successfully completing these missions will enhance your individual soldier's ranking in one of several skill areas including Valor, Fortitude, Physical Training and Medic areas. As your soldier gains skills, they becomes more able during the missions and earn increases in their overall ranking.

During each mission, players will take on one of four distinct main combat roles which are designed to compliment each other. These are Rifleman, Grenadier, Automatic Rifleman and Sniper. Each of these types of classes allows you to use a specific type of weapon and determines your role during each mission. Learning what you need to perform in these missions, following your commander's orders and completing objectives with the minimal damage or loss is your goal. The game allows you to use a variety of tactics during each mission that allow you to reduce the risk to yourself and your team. You'll learn how to attack from a distance, close in around an enemy in flanking mode and use stealth effectively. These are important as mission objectives become more complex while enemies become smarter. As you play through the missions, you'll discover that you'll need to rely on your fellow soldiers in many instances to get the job done before you can complete your task. This co-operative, team based approach does an excellent job in recreating the co-operative approach that is used by Army soldiers. Most of the gameplay is fairly straightforward and players won't have much trouble learning what to do. An onscreen map and the accompanying radar do an excellent job of pointing you in the right direction, while the HUD allows you to see your health, weapon and other status at a glance.

The basic controls in America's Army should be familiar to most FPS veterans, with movement and firing fairly easy to perform using the shift buttons. Players can switch between weapons using a wheel which they can call up to select different weapons and tactics. Standard firing is fairly easy to perform and players can zoom in to their guide for a more accurate shot. When it comes time to throw a grenade, players can switch to that weapon, use a quick guide to set its trajectory and guide it to it target. You can also switch between different positions and attack either in standing position or crawl on the ground to catch enemies by surprise. Most of these functions are fairly straightforward and most players shouldn't have too much of a problem with the game's controls, which are intuitive and responsive. The game's overall feel and pacing are fairly well-done, allowing you to gradually learn the basics before you're ready for combat, and these accessible controls make America's Army easy to learn and play. From a visual standpoint, the game is somewhat of a mixed bag, with some decent environments and character models that give a sense of realism to the experience. However, there are some fairly noticeable frame rate stutters here and there that make things feel less polished than they should. On the other hand, the realistic rending of the weapons and soldiers enhances America's Army's realism and these minor problems with the graphics don't really detract from the overall feel of the game.

The single player experience is fairly engaging, but the game also delivers several solid online gameplay modes that allow you to battle it out via the internet with a group of friends. You can choose to play within your own group and create Units, where you and invited soldiers complete missions with each other. In addition to taking one of the standard fighting positions, players can also choose to play as Squad Commanders, which allows them to command their friends around each missions. One of the more interesting aspects of the online modes are the Respect Tokens that you can award to your fellow soldiers after each mission to reward them for performance during the game. Earning these medals adds to your soldier's Skill level points and also reinforces the good behavior guidelines of America's Army. It's a clever way of showing how real soldiers act on the battlefield while also creating a real sense of camaraderie between you and your fellow soldiers as you play online. In addition to playing through the standard game, America's Army also includes an interesting selection of video extras that allow players to see what its like to be a real soldier with interviews of many real life Army people. These videos are very well done and should give players an appreciation and respect for what these members of the armed forces stand for and accomplish on a daily basis. If you're interested in what's it's really like to be a solider, they are definitely worth viewing. They also help to enhance your experience because they help to put the game into a larger context and give you a sense of what Army life is really like.

Despite the fact that America's Army: True Soldiers isn't quite as deep or polished as some other FPS titles on the market, the game still delivers an intense, authentic experience. The gameplay is designed to let FPS newcomers learn the ropes but also offers some degree of challenge for experienced players. The game's structured missions allow you to learn the tactics at your own pace or jump right into combat. With its authentic weapons, gear and tactics, America's Army creates a believable scenario in which to do battle which makes the gameplay all the more exciting. Its co-operative team-based play mechanics with four unique positions allows for some exciting tactical missions that should challenge players. The visuals are a bit shaky at some points, which some glitches here and there, but the game still delivers some fairly exciting moments if you have the skill and persistence to make it to the later levels in single-player mode. AA: True Soldiers' multiplayer modes offer a variety of solid maps and gameplay modes that deepen the tactics you learn in the other stages to make for an even more challenging experience. Despite some minor faults, this is a surprisingly convincing yet also accessible title that brings the feel of real-world combat to your living room in a convincing and challenging manner.

- Michael Palisano


Related Reviews

Unreal Tournament III (Playstation 3)
Assassin's Creed (Playstation 3)
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Playstation 3)