3D Performance with ARMA II Demo
If youíve grown tired of the fast-paced yet linear style of military shooters like Call of Duty 4 and want to step up to something more realistic with more open world exploration, Bohemia Interactive's latest tactical simulation, ARMA II is a compelling alternative. Just be prepared to spend an hour or two getting familiar with the gameís controls: when we say this game is a sim, we mean it. If youíre the type who misses the days when sims from companies like Microprose, Spectrum Holobyte, and Janeís Longbow series were the norm rather than the exception, youíll feel right at home with ARMA II (with the only omission being the 200-page manuals that shipped with the aforementioned games).
In the game youíll play the role of Razor team, part of the 27th Marine Expeditionary Unit thatís been dispatched to the fictional nation of Chernarus. Chernarus is a former satellite state of the Soviet Union, with a pro-West democratic government trying to fight off a mixture of different factions including insurgents with no real allegiance to anyone, and Soviet-backed Communist forces who are intent on taking over the country. Your unit of Marines is the first to arrive on the scene; itís up to you and your men to sort things out with your trusty M4 assault rifles and M249 SAW machine guns.
The game utilizes Bohemia Interactiveís Real Virtuality 3 game engine. According to Bohemia, RV3 is built on shader model 3, with support for parallax texture mapping, hemispherical lighting, and multi-core CPUs (according to the minimum system requirements, a dual-core CPU and shader model 3.0 GPU are required). The game takes place in a 225 square kilometer area based on real satellite imagery of Eastern Europe and features a realtime day/night cycle with dynamic wind and weather. The gameís physics engine also models real bullet ballistics, material penetration, and round deflection.
Needless to say that like the flight sims of one or two decades ago, youíll need a fairly modern PC to play the game. Because the outdoor environments youíll traverse are so vast, youíll need a powerful GPU to get the best performance from the game, but ARMA II is very demanding on the CPU as well Ė as youíll see in our benchmarks you really canít skimp on either system component.
For this article we setup two basic testbeds. An ultra high-end Core i7-965 PC equipped with 6GB of OCZ Reaper HPC RAM, and a midrange quad-core PC built around Intelís Core 2 Quad Q8400, which is selling for $185 on Newegg right now. Running alongside both of these testbeds are GPUs ranging from the Radeon 3870 up to the Radeon 4890 on the ATI side, while GeForce cards range from the 9800 GTX+ up to the GeForce GTX 295.
Before we get to the benchmarks though, a couple of quick pointers. The frame rates youíre going to see are dramatically lower than other shooters like Call of Duty, Far Cry 2, or even Crysis. Thatís okay though because ARMA II is a sim with a very slow pace and as such, you donít need a blazing frame rate for this game. Anything in the 25-35 fps range should be pretty acceptable for most gamers. Some may even be willing to live with frame rates in the low 20s.
Also, our benchmark results are coming from the demoís built-in performance benchmark. We do this in order to ensure that the workload for each card is 100% repeatable. The standard benchmark though is slightly more demanding than most gameplay scenarios.
In any case, the game has a ton of different graphics options available in the graphics menu, so youíll want to spend a good chunk of time playing with different settings in order to optimize the gameís performance for your particular system. End users have reported playable frame rates out of GeForce 7800 and Radeon 3800-class hardware if youíre willing to compromise on the graphics settings.
Besides performance, another topic thatís frequently discussed with ARMA II is bugs. Honestly we didnít run into the blue screens, lockups, or any other show-stopping bugs others have mentioned online Ė the game was 100% stable on both testbeds with ATI and NVIDIA hardware. No graphical glitches or artifacts either.
Instead our biggest gripe with the game is the absolutely terrible voiceovers. Thatís another story thoughÖ