ARMA 2: Day Z – Operation Arrowhead Mod Review

Developer:

Bohemia Interactive

Publisher:

Bohemia Interactive

Platform:

PC

Release Date:

29 June 2010

Genre:

Action, Strategy, Simulation

Player(s):

Single/Online

Rating:

M (Blood and violence)

Languages:

English, Czech, French, Italian, Spanish

-Calvin Tomlinson

This isn’t a regular game review; I’ve never played vanilla ARMA 2 and probably never would have considered buying the game if it wasn’t for this mod. For those of you that haven’t heard of it, Day Z is a mod that turns ARMA 2, a tactical shooter with a level of realism that almost borders simulation, into an open world zombie apocalypse RPG. Something that a lot of gamers, including myself, have dreamt of for years!

Now, it does have to be said that this mod is still very much in development and taking that into consideration, there are a few problems with it. I won’t dig too much into them because of how early the current build is.

Basically, when you start Day Z, you’ll be thrown somewhere in a map that’s about as big as a country along with x amount of other players and potentially hundreds of zombies. When you start, you’ll be armed with just enough supplies to get by, including a handgun, a few magazines for it, and a small amount of food and water. As well as your supplies, players are given one mission; to survive. From here on out what you do is entirely up to you, you can choose to live out the rest of your life however you wish (for the record it might not be long, the average life expectancy is 31 minutes). There are some players that will roam the world on their own, some will team up with friends or survivors they find along the way and others will live a darker life, hunting down the survivors in hope of looting better gear. That’s the beauty of this game, there’s nothing telling you what to do. You can stick around the rural areas scavenging the odd house you come across, or you can chance the more populated towns and cities where there are more supplies but also many more zombies.

What makes this mod even better is the realism, you don’t just have to point and shoot like a lot of games in the Zombie genre. You need to eat regularly, need to drink, and if you do get hurt, you’ll need to bandage yourself up, take painkillers, and if things get really bad you’ll need another player to give you a blood transfusion. This game isn’t casual in the slightest, you won’t be just jumping in and having a little play, you’ll be immersing yourself and if you’re anything like me, end up falling into this time sink of a mod.

All the people I know who play this game have their “moment”. What I mean by that is the moment they really knew this mod was great. Me and my friends enjoy nothing more than telling tales of our adventures in this game, I don’t mean in a roleplaying sense, although if that’s your cup of tea then go right ahead, what I mean is when something happens in the game that you never expect from a game with no real story. To help show you what I mean, here’s a little story of my first ever attempt at playing this game.

I spawned just next to water right outside of one of the bigger towns and immediately I heard firing. I had absolutely no idea what was going on when I spotted one or two zombies on the road nearby and being used to the run and gun of other games decided that their heads had my name on them. Once I’d fumbled around with the controls a little bit I managed to draw my gun, and dropped those two after a healthy unloading of ammo. Next thing I know the chat was full of “Who’s firing” and “Are you friendly”. Being a complete newbie I had no idea how to reply, and thought it best to just try and lay low for a while. Once I felt like everyone was less threatened by the gunshots I made a move to the town and someone said in the chat “Any friendlies nearby, come to the school.”. That was an invitation I couldn’t refuse, a little bit of shelter and maybe a new gun was my motivation. Crawling up the road to the town I spotted a lone Zombie, right in my way, and did what any trigger happy survivor would do, and blasted him in the face. Biggest. Mistake. Ever.

Next thing I know there’s a horde on me, I’m bleeding, close to death and running around the town looking for this school that guy had said. I came round the corner and there it was, in my mind angelic music started playing and I felt alive, with less than ½ the blood count I started with I bolted towards it, and two guys on the roof started dwindling down the horse behind me while another waited at the door. Once I made it he led me upstairs, bandaged me up and transfused me some new blood. I was right as rain. I thanked this guy profusely and made my way up to the roof to thank my guardian snipers.

I stayed up there with them for a while, keeping watch, when I spotted another survivor in the distance. I told the snipers and they glanced in his direction. Next thing I knew, BANG! One of them had shot him, right in the face. No warning. No chances. I didn’t know what to do or say, these same people that saved me had just killed a man for no reason whatsoever. What can I say; I flipped, pulled out my pistol and dropped them both with a few shots from behind.  I was pumping with adrenaline. I’d just killed two men to avenge a random stranger. I knew the man downstairs would be coming to see what happened and I panicked. I start scrabbling at my keyboard, trying to work out how I can pick up the guns these two guys had dropped when I heard it, the ladder up here was clanging with footsteps. I swear I’ve never been so scared playing a video game before, this man was coming to kill me. I couldn’t take it, so I did the only logical thing in that situation; I jumped off the school, broke both my legs and bled to death while a few straggler zombies came and feasted on me.

That was when I knew this mod was something special.

Anyone looking for a realistic zombie game, this mod is the closest thing I’ve ever encountered, and once the development is a bit further along this thing will be incredible. This mod alone has brought a nice game like ARMA2 up to the top seller spot on Steam, that gives you a small indication of how much attention this mod is getting. I was really hesitant about buying a game just to play one mod on, but it’s one of the best game purchases I’ve made, and I’ll be seeing this mod grow for a long time, I can tell.

ARMA2: Combined Operations can be found on Steam for £24.99, or you can get it elsewhere, this mod doesn’t rely on the game being on Steam. The Day Z files can be found at http://dayzmod.com/ and there are some installation tutorials on the forum.

I can’t recommend this mod enough, take a look at some gameplay videos, read up on other peoples stories and you’ll see that this game is as good as you make it, mould it your way and you’ll really be living the Zombie apocalypse.

Verdict: 90%

*If development continues to be as good as it is now, expect to see a follow up with a potentially perfect score.

ARMA 2: DayZ Gameplay

Would you give this game a chance even with the steep difficulty?