This isn’t something that usually happens to the Canadian Forces. It happens all the time to video games. Someone decides they’d like to see an American Marine instead of a US army player and they produce a skin. You can find all kinds of these things. But nowhere more than in Arma 2. The war simulator supports hundreds of different modifications, so if you have your heart set on playing as the Polish swat team, you can.
A group of Canadians have settled on something more close to home though. They’ve started bringing the Canadian Forces in as a playable faction in Arma 2 and its expansion Operation Arrowhead. This is more than just a skin pack though. They are creating new vehicles, new models, and new weapons for the mod. It’s currently playable but still in testing, and I figured I’d give it a run through.
There are no pre-built missions with this mod. You’re expected to make your own fun with the tools they give you. But there are units pre-programmed in: a troop section, a machine gun team, an anti-armour unit etc. Within five minutes I had a scenario rigged up where I could test some different weapons while defending a forlorn mountain-top from Taliban insurgents. Oh wait sorry. Those were “Takistani Militia” I was fighting. If you want real places and real units you have to get a mod team to make it, and I don’t think there are enough hobbyist programmers in Afghanistan these days.
The thing that struck me is that the Canadian Forces Mod is really involved. Everything has been converted over to the Canadian version. I’ve downloaded mods that claim to bring Hungarian units in, but are really just re-coloured Russians. I doubt the Hungarians like that much. In the same vein, a re-skinned US force would have been disappointing. But instead we have a full blown Canadian contingent, with all new weapons and vehicles.
The Griffin helicopter is Canada’s Huey. The little transport chopper with door mounted machine guns that can be found performing almost any job you might need. Having actually spent some time up close with Griffins in the Canadian Forces, I was pleased and impressed with the one displayed in game. Take a look at these comparisons:
They have all our small arms weapon systems. The presence of the El-can sight is a welcome addition, as is the often derided Browning Hi-Power, which for some reason is still our national sidearm. It’s important that it is there though, and not a 1911 or M9 like the American’s carry.
The Browning makes up one of the three core weapon systems that are why I would call this mod a successful conversion. The Browning is something that would be easy to overlook, but they included it. The other two are the C9 light machine gun, and the C7A2 rifle.
The C9 is something that can be found in almost every Canadian infantry unit. From what I’ve been told, you don’t do a foot patrol without one. The fact that there is both an iron sights version and a holographic sights version is a nice addition.
Those same sights can be found on C7 rifles. Including the C7A1 there are six separate variations of the rifle, with different optics, grenade launchers, and laser designators to be found on each. The C7 is what everyone carries, but it’s good that when you spawn a group, every soldier isn’t equipped with an identical weapon. Specialization gives a much more meaningful experience when playing.
Also it’s worth noting that unlike the M16A2, which has a single and bust mode, the C7A2 selects between single shot and full-auto. Just like in real life.
Some other interesting weapons include the C6 light machine gun, which is comparable to the M240 carried stateside. And our Karl Gustav 84mm rocket launcher. Ideal for taking out tanks if you recall. Even the hand grenades have been re-labeled to their Canadian counterpart.
Now, some concerns: The C8 is the small carbine version of the C7 rifle. Its the sort of thing commanders carry. You find it tucked behind the seat of those Griffin helicopters, and in the hands of pretty much anyone who needs to stay mobile while doing their duty. But somewhere along the line the C8 broke the Canadian Forces Mod. It fucked it right up. Trying to use this weapon as any character will break your soldiers arms into some sort of marvel superhero. Actually it looks like something Clive Barker would make. Its too bad, because the C8 is a really cool weapon. But when you see your commanding officer doing his fancy pants duck run across the battlefield, it doesn’t inspire confidence. In fact it totally breaks the illusion.
I won’t feel comfortable adventuring across Afghanistan Takistan until these long-armed monstrosities are put to rest.
I do wish we had more vehicles available beyond the Griffin and a C130 Hercules. G-wagens, APVs and Leopard tanks would all make nice additions. Although with a little imagination you can use the American Chinook helicopter and LAV for some good fun.
The mod team also runs a clan, dedicated to playing cooperative games as the Canadian Forces. You can find their website, along with a download for the mod here, or join the steam group. Next week I’ll bring you some dispatches from one of their games, and we’ll see how the Canadian soldiers perform on the virtual battlefield.
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