I hadn’t played ARMA II since having my mind blown by DayZ some months ago, but somehow buying and trying the sequel ARMA III brought me back. There’s this ARMA II mod some friends from work are playing, called Escape Chernarus. While not as revolutionary as DayZ, it shows the strengths of the game in the very best of lights, and adds an exciting and dynamic struggle for survival to it.
It all begins in a military camp. You and your friends are prisoners of war, guarded by a lone enemy soldier somewhere on the island of Chernarus. The location of the camp is random, so you don’t know where you are. You have no map, no compass. No weapons at all.
Suddenly the guard dies. Who knows from what – just quickly take whatever he’s got on him and get the hell out of the compound.
He usually carries a pistol and some kind of rifle. If you’re three players (like we have been) that means one of you will have to face the deadly opposition outside the camp walls unarmed and defenseless. But out you must, or reinforcements will make your life very very difficult and very very short.
You exit the camp, and if you’re still alive you have one simple objective: Get off the island. Escape Chernarus.
This is easier said than done. You have no means of leaving the island by yourself, so you’re going to have to find a military base and send a distress signal for allies to come and pick you up at some distant shore. But you can’t simply waltz into a base, so you’re going to have to take it by force. And one of you is unarmed, you got shit gear, you’re probably running out of ammo and you have no idea where you are.
Find a map. A compass. Better weapons. Unfortunately you’re going to have to take them from the cooling bodies of your enemies. Attack a roadblock, a village, a patrol, whatever that might hold some of the gear you so desperately need. But the island is teeming with soldiers, and they’re looking for you. Be quick. If they spot you, don’t let them live long enough to call for reinforcements. And here comes the helicopter searching for you, again.
Run. Hide. Fight. Survive. Steal a vehicle, preferably an armored one. If it’s night, see if you can get your hands on some night vision goggles.
Once the distress signal has been sent you get a coordinate on the map telling you where they’ll pick you up. However, that coordinate is probably going to be very far away, and you have an army looking for you. Do you try to get there quickly by following the roads, or do you try to stay undetected by moving through forests, fields, hills? Do you travel in the same vehicle, or do you split up to reduce risk of all dying from a single rocket, missile or grenade?
If you have the skills and the luck you might make it to that shore, and the help will come. Climb onboard. Escape Chernarus, and enjoy the moment – for I predict that most play sessions will end with you bleeding to death somewhere far away from any hope of rescue.
This mod makes the aging ARMA II engine shine. The smart AI, the wealth of weapons, gear and vehicles, the enormous and varied landscape, the weather systems and day/night cycle all come into play each play session. The dynamic nature of the mod creates a unique experience each time you play it, and it really feels like the enemy is searching for you, hunting you. Like DayZ, it makes Chernarus come alive.
It will be interesting to see how it’ll translate to ARMA III.