US Army To Release Two Free PC Games. Seriously.

The US Army has announced that it will be releasing two free games for the PC designed to be recruiting tools. The Army will be releasing an RPG/Strategy game called "Soldiers," as well as a group oriented FPS called "Operations."

Soldiers and Operations are intertwined games that allow users to build off of each other. Players can get additional missions by going from one game to the other. Playing the games is designed, according to the Army, to give players the opportunity to see how life in the Army can be. Soldiers appears to focus more on life as a recruit, while the training and activities in Soldiers allows one to participate in the missions in Operations.

The US Army was not available immediately to answer questions concerning Mac availability. When we do find out, we will publish a follow-up story. The games were developed from the Unreal engine, which has been ported to the Mac.

From a news release from the US Army:

In the Soldiers role-playing portion, players undergo Army training and adventures while encountering tactical, technical and physical challenges -- similar to issues soldiers might face in their first tour of duty while on and off duty. Importantly, players manage their characteris goals, values and resources. Each player chooses specific soldier attributes, career, and personal goals to achieve. As each goal is met, another is set. Values are integral to how the player guides a character while they coordinate six resources to determine how fast their character reaches a goal.

Each time a soldier-character encounters a new challenge or life choice, the game uses a revolutionary real-time story engine to generate new screenplays, dialogue, scenes, sounds and actions to carry the character through a personalized story. This link between playeris actions and choices results in nearly infinite story possibilities. The game features text-to-voice technology allowing for personalized simulations while combining animation with photo realistic background images.

The action-packed Operations portion allows up to 32 players to enter into "virtual service" with the U.S. Army on the same unit mission. Players begin their virtual Army experience as a recruit with an anonymous user name to experience challenging Army missions from a first-person perspective. Developed using the latest version of Epic Gamesi "Unreal Engine®" and optimized for NVIDIA GeForce2® graphics processors, Operations features 20 single and multiplayer missions. Training missions build player capabilites -- from navigating Fort Benningis obstacle course to parachute drops in preparation for assignment to the 82nd Airborne Division. Multiplayer missions are played free on a virtual playing field online with Web servers hosted by HomeLAN.

Multiplayer missions are organized into assignment tours, such as being part of the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) or the 75th Ranger Regiment. To join a multiplayer game, the players must complete the appropriate training. Gamers use realistic equipment and authentic military hardware. Teamwork, leadership and the benefits of training are emphasized. As in any team effort, communication is key: gamers use different speech, whispers, shouts, radio messages and -- in a game industry first -- genuine military hand and arm signals. Borrowing a page from Army force-on-force training methods, players always perceive they always are on the U.S. team.

The two games are interlaced, with experiences and attributes accumulated during gameplay in one game shaping adventures and opportunities in the other. Players can jump from one game to another to find out additional mission and career information and learn hints to help them advance.

Both games will be free, and according to a C|Net article, the Army will be hosting online play with 140 servers. The article also says that there will be admins for online play that will punish cheaters with virtual time in a virtual Fort Leavenworth. Itis a very interesting read, including information on the way the Army approached realism, and other issues.

You can find more information on the new games at the US Armyis Web site.