“America’s Army”, a new game launched this Independence Day, is actually self titled. In a first of its kind effort, the United States Army has developed a virtual Army experience from training to combat, and all you need to enlist is your e-mail address! And the best part of it is that it’s absolutely free! Your first thought might be, “Free? What does this thing look like?” Well, it actually looks and sounds great! The game utilizes the “Unreal” engine via (most) Nvidia chipsets and touts Dolby Digital Surround Sound. But, unlike the Unreal series, “America’s Army” has court marshaled the gore and rampaging demons to produce a clean game that delivers the realism of joining the army without having to do any pushups.

Premiered at this year’s E3, the game series’ kickoff almost completely stole the show. Upon approaching E3’s main entrance you were met by tanks and officers (not actors) in fatigues handing out key chains. Then after walking a bit inside, you would see an officer, and then another officer casually walking the halls in full gear with war paint and fully armed. You may have thought at that point that the military was taking all high profile events very seriously, until you got to the South Hall and watched the show nestled between heavy hitters Sony and SEGA. That is of course if you could get close enough to watch the show… So many people gathered around for every performance that it blocked off the west side of Sony’s booth and caused Sony’s security to usher everyone off the company’s staircase that people were using to get a better view. But, even if you weren’t able to get very close, you could at least see the men come shooting down from the ceiling on ropes to the floor below. After the show ended, we decided to talk a bit with the men who put the whole thing together.

Showing us a pre-release version of the first game in the series, Lead Animator, Scott Dossett, spoke about the importance of consulting the Army’s best in order to make the games as real as possible: “All of the missions that we have done were developed hand in hand with the units that actually performed these kind of missions.” Motioning towards the screen depicting an enemy camp sitting in moonlight, surrounded by a desolate landscape, Dossett continued, “So, when we set out to design this mission we actually met with people from the 75th Ranger regiment, who sat down -and we had their intelligence officer there so they would make sure that they didn’t say anything they weren’t supposed to. But, they helped us. These are guys that have actually gone in and assaulted terrorist camps… It’s more of an amalgamation of all of their experiences and what they would typically find at a camp such as this.”

“In addition to helping us lay out the spaces, they gave us help with the weapons…They’ve helped us keep the fidelity of the game, in every aspect of the game, down to the point where… There is selector switch right here on the M16, that switches between single shots and 3 round bursts. And when we put the animation in for the guy to reach up with his thumb and switch it -originally the model just pulled back to the old model where the selector switch was in the wrong position. And the Army guys picked up on it just like that… Everything is as authentic as we can make it.”

LTC Eugene Wardynski (Left)

After finishing up with the game, the biggest question on our minds was, “What made the Army decide to make a game in the first place?” The answer came simply from the guy who got the idea together, Lieutenant Colonel Eugene Wardynski: ‘We came up with the concept back in August of ’99 as an idea for sort of a leap ahead in providing information to young Americans about the opportunities the Army affords. And when you look at the kind of games that are built today, lot’s and lot’s of them look like the Army, so we thought we probably knew something about the Army too. And we could put all that together and build an environment that was engaging and informative at the same and be a communication channel to young Americans.”

Get the First Installment of America’s Army today at: http://americasarmy.com


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