I've had a new long dream, and it's quite a humdinger. Strangely, it's the second dream in as many nights that compares my work to a school, so I don't quite know what the Freudians amongst you will make of that.
The bee in my bonnet today is a rather strange one. Since buying the game Deus Ex, a couple of weeks ago, I have been interested in the realm of First-Person Shooters, and those based on the Unreal engine, in particular (because Deus Ex looks spiffy on my GeForce4). Therefore, when I read that the American Army had released a free-to-download game based on said engine, my ears pricked up.
I shot onto nVidia's website, where I could download the game, in twelve parts (totalling 210Mb). In an hour and a half, it was down, and I was able to set it up, and register.
I should explain that the game is predominately an online game, in that you have to have an internet connection to progress, as your progress is stored on a permanent record that is associated with an account that you register at the beginning. Once you progress far enough, the only real way to play the game is online, as it is a multiplayer game, and it really helps if you have broadband. Also, anything less than a GeForce2 will cause the game's 3D engine to point and laugh at you.
The initial stage is training, which is a trip to the rifle range (looking rather similar to a golf course), where, if you do well enough, you will be invited to Sniper School. If you do badly, then you won't progress. There's also an obstacle course, a grenade range, and an urban training rig. After each of these, you must upload your achievements to the server.
After that, you undertake a team exercise in a streetscape, which is quite fun, but I'm still at that stage, so I can't tell you much about it.
The graphics are quite sublime. Shoot upwards, and bullet cases will shower down upon you. Every time you fire, a slight cloud of smoke emerges from the gun. Midges fly about at night. When you use a machine-gun, the last few bullets can be seen passing into the gun; the reloading is baroque in its accuracy (and quite impressive), as you see the gun being dismantled, the bullets being carefully positioned, and the gun being reassembled. And one last thing, the weapons sometimes jam, necessitating the fixing of the gun.
The game is obviously a huge propaganda exercise. The FAQ freely admits that the game sets out to show the world "how great the US Army is", and I have obvious issues with that sentiment. However, principles go out the window when a high-quality FPS is free for the taking. If you think your computer can take it, I recommend that you download it right away.