America’s Army: Past, Present, and Future

by Chuck “Magnum” Ankenbauer

America's Army

 

Introduction

America's ArmyBack in 2002, I heard the U.S. Army was getting ready to release a free computer game for recruitment purposes. I love America, and I love the Army (heck, I spent just over ten years in it) but I was skeptical. What would the US Army know about making a computer game? How exciting or fun would this game be if it’s a “recruitment” tool?

Well, America’s Army was released for free to the public on Independence Day 2002, (at least they had a good marketing team), I downloaded it immediately upon release and now it’s the winter holidays of 2005, and I’m still playing more America’s Army then any other game.

What does the Army know about making a computer game? A whole lot in my opinion. I would gladly spend 50 bucks for this game, but thanks to me, and my fellow American taxpayers, we get it free. HOOAH!

The Past

The America’s Army game has had 18 public releases and updates since its initial release of America’s Army: Recon (v1.0) on July 4th, 2002.

In that release you had a number of training missions like the obstacle course, qualification with your M16A2 rifle, other U.S. military weapons like the M249 SAW and the M203 grenade launcher. Training then concluded with MOUT (Military Operations on Urban Terrain) tactical training.

The game released with a small number of fun and very well made missions and maps. The maps were the famous bridge crossing, HQ raid, insurgent camp, MOUT McKenna, pipeline, and collapsed tunnel. On a few of the missions you could use the MILES training system, which was a nice change from regular weapon fire, at least at the beginning.

I won’t list all 18 updates, since most were correction patches. Below is the list of updates that were quite significant, or added something new. It shows the dedication the development team has with this game. We will probably see more updates in the future.

  • August 1st, 2002 – The Marksmanship Pack v1.1.1 was released. This release included the M24 (sniper) training.
  • August 22nd, 2002 – The Airborne/Ranger Pack v1.2.0 was released. This brought in the 250 ft Jump Tower training and the Live Jump training. It also introduced three new maps: FLS Assault, Swamp Raid, and Mountain Ambush.
  • October 3rd, 2002 – America’s Army: Operations v1.2.1 map pack was released. This included two new maps: JRTC Farm and the Weapons Cache.
  • October 10th, 2002 – America’s Army: Operations v1.3.0 was released with the Mountain Pass map.
  • November 15th, 2002 – v1.4.0 the River Basin map was released.
  • December 23rd, 2002 – v1.5.0 was released just in time for Christmas. This included the Weapons Cache Special Edition map.
  • March 16th, 2003 – v1.6.0 was released with the Radio Tower mission.
  • April 21st, 2003 – v1.7.0 was released with the Bridge Special Edition mission.
  • August 8th, 2003 – v1.9.0 (yes, version 8 was skipped for some reason.) This version introduced the Medic. It included the Airway Management training, the Controlling Bleeding training, the treating shock training, and the medic field test. It also introduced the Mountain Pass Special Edition mission.
  • November 6th, 2003 – A big update was released. This was America’s Army: Special Forces v2.0.0. This version introduced the Special Forces soldier. You had to be honor 15 or above to be a SF soldier and had to complete the SF classroom training, and a very difficult SF escape and evasion mission. It also introduced four new missions: SF Hospital, SF CSAR, SF Recon, and Pipeline SF. You also got to build your own custom weapon system.
  • December 21st, 2003 – Introduced v2.0.0a which included a new mission: Sandstorm.
  • June 1st, 2004 – Introduced v2.1.0 which included the SF Village and the SF Arctic missions.
  • October 19th, 2004 – v2.2.0 introduced SF Oasis and SF Taiga.
  • February 18th, 2005 – v2.3.0 brought us Urban Assault and the Woodland Outpost missions.
  • May 5th, 2005 – v2.4.0 introduced the SF Courtyard mission, the SF Blizzard mission, the SF PCR mission, and the SF Water Treatment mission.
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