|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Red Storm||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 15, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-16||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by D'Marcus Beatty
For the most part, I think that gamers don't have much of a problem with advertising in games. Utilized moderately, advertising in games offsets the development costs and adds a degree of realism that wouldn't be attainable otherwise. You can't drive ten minutes down most highways without encountering a McDonald's or a Wendy's, so why aren't these places represented in the games I play?
However, when the advertising is so overt that it becomes obnoxious, the game becomes less entertaining and more offensive. That is the case with America's Army: True Soldierss, a game that tries (and fails) to hide Army propaganda in the form of a video game. The problem is that the game is so obviously propaganda and that it lacks any redeeming fun value to offset that rhetoric. True Soldierss is like attempting to play one of those Army Strong commercials on your Xbox 360.
America's Army: True Soldierss is an attempt by the U.S. Army to create a game that would be entertaining to the gaming masses. Coincidentally, the majority of gamers is of the recruitable age and would probably be valuable assets to the military, especially considering the virtual combat hours logged on Halo 3. True Soldierss, however, doesn't do a good job of presenting the army as a fun or even interesting experience, crafting a game that is so abysmal few will even make it beyond the basic training course.
True Soldierss puts you in the shoes of an army recruit. You begin the game with the option of choosing basic training, war games, or multiplayer. Basic Training is just how it sounds, taking you to different courses and training you in the use of the game's different weapons. The problem here is that the game starts off incredibly boring. You cannot move from the outset, so you're basically forced to endure the drill sergeant's speech about the weapon you're about to learn and what you have to do. It doesn't really matter that you're charged with basically doing the same thing throughout Basic Training or that most gamers will be able to figure it out without instruction. You're still forced to sit through the instruction every single time. In addition to that, whenever you clear a course, you have to go back to the menu to progress to the next section, which only becomes unlocked after completion. Since the game forces you to follow a strict progression, it seems as if it would have been more efficient to simply allow the game to progress after you complete each objective instead of forcing the player back to the basic training menu each time.
In Basic Training, you will notice the visuals, which are decent at best. They aren't the outstanding next gen visuals present in games like Gears of War or Bioshock, but the graphics are functional. The weapons are realistically modeled and feel accurate, as should be the case with a game designed by the military. However, beyond these positives, the rest of the game is a mess. Almost nothing can be performed without bringing up a radial menu, which means that when you reload, restock, change weapons, or put on your night vision goggles, you have to access a radial menu, which always takes a second to process your request. This inconvenience is exacerbated by the fact that it is easy to choose the wrong thing on the radial menu, especially in the heat of battle. Add in slow, plodding controls and the game feel more like a chore than fun.
Wargames mode takes you into a battle simulation allowing you and a team of soldier to battle against other soldier in paintball wargames. This ultimately boils down to the player playing a game that is simulating another game. Any "killed" soldiers simply sit down and become unresponsive in what is presumably the rule of army wargames, which is supremely unsatisfying. I guess I understand the developer's choice in not allowing you to kill any other soldiers, but the game lacks any kind of punch when your opponent just sits down after you shoot him. Even worse is that you do the same whenever you're shot, which is extremely frustrating. Many times you'll find yourself urging your character to get up, though probably with the use of some choice expletives.
One plus that the game offers is the ability to upgrade your soldier. You have the ability to customize your soldier in a few different ways, and you can earn skill points that you can allot towards your character's marksmanship, physical training, fortitude, medical skills, or valor. Each of these different attributes affects your character in different ways, such as fortitude allowing your character to ignore wound movement penalties or valor improving your character's ability to aim under fire. The bonuses created through improving these attributes become noticeable throughout the game, but few people will have the fortitude or the patience to level up their characters sufficiently.