ARMA II Gameplay Performance and Image Quality

In case you weren't frustrated enough with tactical shooters, Bohemia Interactive has dropped ARMA II on a wary and waiting gaming audience. ARMA II puts the current generation of video cards to the test, this realistic and demanding game is a graphics hog. We’ll evaluate eight video cards running this game and let you know what kind of gameplay experience to expect.


ARMA was released by Bohemia Interactive in May of 2007. It is the spiritual successor to Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis which earned a great deal of critical acclaim for Bohemia. Codemasters, the original publisher of Operation Flashpoint owns the intellectual property of the name. Thus, when Bohemia severed ties with Codemasters, they lost the right to use the name, and the ARMA franchise was born.

To add confusion, there is a sequel to Operation Flashpoint, Dragon Rising, due for release this year, but Bohemia has no part of that game. In Europe, ARMA was known as ARMA: Armed Assault, which led many people to believe that "ARMA" is a pseudo-acronym of "Armed Assault." When it came to North America, it was named ARMA: Combat Operations, but the idea stuck. However, "arma" is actually a word, not an acronym. On Bohemia’s developer blog site, Marek آٹpaněl explains that the word "arma" has various meanings, including "defensive arms, shields, weapons of war, war" and so on. Thus, ARMA II is not "Armed Assault II." It is just ARMA II.

ARMA II was officially released worldwide in the summer of 2009, with regional release dates staggered in Europe, North America, and Australia. It is published by Got Game Entertainment and distributed retail channels as well as via Steam and Direct2Drive for digital distribution.


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ARMA II is a combat simulator focused on realism and authenticity. It is a tactical shooter with aircraft and land vehicle combat as well as real-time strategy elements through the squad command system and the "high command" system. The High Command system allows the player to issue orders to multiple squads. It is primarily a first-person shooter, but it can be played through the third-person perspective if the player so chooses.

The game is staged in the modern era around a fictional post-soviet nation called Chernarus. Chernarus is in a state of open revolt, with communist forces attempting to seize control of the nation away from the existing Democratic government, which is friendly with The West. The single-player campaign begins as the USMC player lands in Chernarus to attempt to stop the burgeoning civil war and follows the player’s Expeditionary Unit, "Razor", through to the conclusion of the conflict.

Key to the success of the first ARMA was its full-featured mission editor. Bohemia has not skimped on the sequel. The ARMA II mission editor is capable of producing single-player missions or entire campaigns as well as multiplayer missions.

The Technology

ARMA II is powered by version 3 of Bohemia Interactive’s own Real Virtuality game engine. Real Virtuality 3 has been in constant development for 10 years and supports DirectX 9. There is no support or planned support for DX10 at this time. Shader Models 2 and 3 are supported under DX9, along with features such as such as HDR, parallax texture mapping, hemispherical lighting, and real-time shadows and lighting. Multi-core CPUs are also supported. Operation Flashpoint was powered by version 1 of this engine, and the first ARMA game by version 2. For more information, check out this overview PDF from Bohemia Interactive.

The Competition

For this evaluation, we have eight video cards lined up. From NVIDIA, we’ll be testing ARMA II with a GeForce GTX 295, GeForce GTX 285, GeForce GTX 275, and GeForce GTX 260. Representing AMD is the ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2, Radeon HD 4890, Radeon HD 4870 1GB, and Radeon HD 4770.