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Video Game / America's Army

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"The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat!"

Somewhere around the crack of the 21st century, higher-ups at the United States Army sought for a way to remedy their waning recruitment rates and number of new recruits dropping out of training, and came up with a plan to get American teenagers interested in joining the Army: A freenote  online First-Person Shooter based on Counter-Strike that educates players on the Army's principles and technical aspects through simulated "first-hand" experiences.

America's Army 3 managed to garner itself some infamy its first week of release, with the game being hardly functional at all, as the 8,000 people who attempted to play apparently overloaded the servers. The problem was largely solved in short order by preventing the players from needing to do the training and has since been rectified. After the release of the third installment, the entire development team was fired and development transferred to an internal Army development team who updated the game much more frequently than the previous team did.

After the success of America's Army, similar projects were started by the Canadian Army and British Army.

The game is available on Steam and was formerly available from the official website (which now redirects to the U.S. Army's general recruiting website, The U.S. Army shut down the project on May 5, 2022 with online features such as stats and rankings no longer functional. Private servers can still be created & played on.

This game contains examples of:

  • America Saves the Day: Obviously, since it is public relations tool for the U.S. Army. However, some Special Forces missions contain Indigenous Forces, local troops who work alongside U.S. Soldiers.
  • A.K.A.-47: Averted, all weapons use their real names. Played with in terms of the Obran series of weapons, which is what the fictional enemy military designates its modified version of the Galil.
  • Alliterative Title
  • Artificial Stupidity: The AI in cooperative missions varies between using surprisingly good cover and movement tactics and standing out in the open, waiting to get shot.
  • BFG: M249 SAW, M82A1 SASR, Mk19 Grenade Machine Gun and M2 .50 cal (both on HMMWVs), RPG-7 for Indigenous Forces
  • Battle Cry: "HOOAH!"
  • Body Armor as Hit Points: Averted, in America's Army body armor reduces damage but doesn't eliminate it. In America's Army 3 body armor only stops damage done to the torso.
  • Captivity Harmonica: If you shoot an instructor during the training missions the mission will end, the screen will fade to black and then reveal you to be in a jail cell with harmonica music playing in the background.
  • Capture the Flag: Some missions involve taking an intel briefcase and extracting with it.
  • Character Customization: Present to a limited extent in America's Army 3. The player can select from premade heads and completely customize his training and job, with many different paths. It gets to a point where the player has to decide whether he wants that particular Soldier to be an eagle-eyed marksman, heavily-equipped machine gunner, or something else and invest his character development in that field. Customizable profession isn't really present in America's Army, where the player can specialize in everything, creating a "perfect" character.
  • Character Level: Even though the RPG elements were scrapped, an experience points system was left in to give a feeling of progress and to decide which player has priority for picking what weapon he wants. In America's Army 3, there is an actual character development system.
  • Cherry Tapping: You can now finish off other folks with a well place knuckle/pistol whip. No knives though.
  • Cold Sniper: America's Army 2 had a full-up sniper/spotter team for Special Forces, while AA3 instead has a squad marksman using a semi-auto, accurized version of the M16A4 rifle with a 4x ACOG scope.
  • Cosmetic Award
  • Critical Existence Failure: Averted, players become less capable as their health worsens.
  • Death Trap: IEDs. However, they are in only a few maps and should be easy to identify for any player who paid attention during ES2 training.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: There are tons of aversions to the standard FPS genre, playing itself like an actual war if you were to be in the army. A no-brainer, as this was made by the government for the purpose of training potential soldiers, and thus have to axe some tropes that would never happen in real life.
  • Defunct Online Video Games: The game lasted for almost 20 years, initially launching on July 4, 2002 and eventually shutting down on May 5, 2022.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: Inverted, players cannot fire and run at the same time (though they can fire while moving at slower speeds), but the AI will run and fire at the same time, which will usually result in them missing as they will have realistically abysmal accuracy while doing this.
    • Purposefully played straight with bipod-supported weapons due to balancing; in return for laser-beam accuracy, players are pinned to the ground where they lay.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Averted, the meanest Drill Sergeants still aren't that mean. There actually are files in the installation for a pretty nasty Drill Sergeant, but he does not appear in game.
  • Easter Egg: Download a version of America's Army 2 and try to find the Yeti.
  • Emergency Weapon: Buttstock attacks in America's Army 3, put into place due to a distinct lack of such in previous versions, which resulted in periodic silly reloading dances between foes.
  • Enemy Chatter: Players can hear voice commands and radio beeps of human enemies and AI enemies have situational lines.
  • Escort Mission: Subverted, any hostage who is "secured" will be magically extracted instantly without actually needing to take him to the extraction zone. If the AI co-op missions is any indication of how rescued hostages would behave, this is a great thing.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The enemy soldiers have deeper voices, mostly only heard once you've been killed and they go "Enemy seguria.".
  • Exclusive Enemy Equipment: Except for Indigenous Forces and VIPs, players cannot spawn with the enemy equivalent of U.S. weapons.
  • Excuse Plot: Almost all of the mission briefings equate to, "There are terrorists/members of an enemy military/mercenaries here, go stop them and rescue a hostage/collect intel/capture their leader/destroy ordnance." Perhaps justified, as overly elaborate plots could be unfitting since real life situations aren't specifically designed to be interesting.
    • America's Army 3 attempts an aversion; to avoid the usual backlash about the game being tactless on account of using a current conflict as a source of inspiration for enemies and their guns, the opposing force is the state army of a fictional nation perpetrating war crimes on civilians, and there's even a graphic novel on the official website detailing the exploits of some Army grunts with their boots on the ground.
  • First-Person Ghost: Zig-zagged in America's Army 3, you can see your soldier's body when you slide or look down, but when you interact with objects such as doors, valves, etc. they seem to be operated by telekinesis.
  • Friendly Fire Proof: Painfully Averted. Target Identification and Fire Discipline are crucial skills in this game. Rocket Launchers are especially dangerous due to their very-much present backblast.
  • Fog of War: An overhead map updates with info that players observe and report on the radio. Obviously, any area that no one can see will not have much detail.
  • Forced Tutorial: Players used to be required to complete Basic Combat Training to play online. Now players can play online without completing training, but will not collect experience points.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Averted, sometimes annoyingly so. NPCs needed to complete the map's objective are as vulnerable as all the other civilians, and anything killing them will result in the round suddenly and irritatingly ending.
  • Good Guns, Bad Guns: Largely played straight, though the heavily modified IWI Galils the enemies use in America's Army 3 look more like something a western nation would use due to their black furniture and Picatinny rails.
  • Heal Thyself: Averted, players will need treatment from Combat Life Savers to prevent their wounds from worsening.
    • Played straight in the last versions of America's Army 2 through self-bandaging that could slow bleeding.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Being prone on a grenade as it detonates eliminates the damage it does to other players (of course, it kills the one who dived on it). In America's Army 3, there is a coin and Steam achievement for this.
  • Hold the Line: Some maps have a "Defense" team whose only objective is to prevent the Assault team from completing theirs.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Averted, suppressors have realistic sounds and, also realistically, aren't all that useful.
  • Instant-Win Condition: When the map's final objective is completed, all players who are alive at that instant are considered to have survived the round, even if they are surrounded by enemies, standing on a frag grenade with a nanosecond left on the fuse, or about to bleed to death.
  • Justified Tutorial: The player must go through Basic Combat Training to collect stats and Advanced Individual Training to unlock more roles.
  • Kill It with Fire: Thermite incendiary grenades.
  • Ladder Physics: Averted, usage of a ladder limits movement and use of equipment.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Despite efforts from the developers to prevent this, most players ignore teamwork.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading
  • The Medic: The game doesn't have medics exactly, but Combat Life Savers. Combat Life Savers are just infantrymen with extra medical equipment, as opposed to medics who have a different job entirely. In game, a wounded player must be treated by a CLS to prevent his condition from worsening.
  • Military Alphabet
  • Missing Backblast: Averted, backblast will kill anyone directly behind someone firing a rocket launcher.
  • New Meat: The player starts off in Basic Combat Training.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Players will always see their team as a U.S. Army squad and the enemies as Eastern Europeans of varying professionalism.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: The player is sent to Fort Leavenworth's United States Disciplinary Barracks for shooting Drill Sergeants or other recruits during training or for violating the Rules of Engagement in an online game. In addition, the training missions can be failed in various other ways.
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: Nothing is stopping you from asking for test answers during the Combat Lifesaving training.
  • One Bullet Clips: Averted, each magazine's status as well as the presence of a round in the chamber is meticulously tracked.
  • Old Save Bonus: But for online accounts. Players who register an America's Army 3 account with an email address that was used to register an America's Army account prior to the release of the former get a special ribbon.
  • Pink Mist: Averted due partially to the need to avoid a rating higher than T, and partially to the fact that 5.56mm bullets rarely cause that kind of Gorn. Plus, the game is a recruiting tool; people are likely to be less open to joining the Army if their death was just rendered in agonizingly gory detail. Those to whom such things would appeal are generally more unstable than Army recruiters would like; folks of that persuasion should go sign up with the Marines.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Players in America's Army 3 can smack the enemy with the butt of their weapon. Was implemented after instances in the previous version where players found themselves unable to continue fighting after running out of ammo.
  • The Present Day
  • Pretty Little Headshots
  • Qurac: Though not so much in America's Army 3, which is mostly Ruritania.
  • Rag Doll Physics: All dead bodies. Unlike many other games where the bodies get in weird positions because of moving too much, America's Army's ragdolls have been criticized for moving too little.
  • Real Is Brown: Played straight in some maps and averted in others.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Many complaints that this game isn't realistic are based on misconceptions created by other video games.
  • Remixed Level: Some maps are modified versions of other maps.
    • 3.0 rehashed Bridge and Pipeline
  • Ruritania: Played straight in 3.0 in response to complaints about obvious allusions to Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Shout-Out: A hidden cell at Leavenworth filled with water has a circling shark with a laser on its head, a reference to Austin Powers.
    • Many a reference is made to former Dev members in 3.0, including one combined with a Shout-Out to Portal.
    "The Pye is a Lie!"
    • One of the maps in Proving Grounds has a graffiti version of the GameSpy logo, who used to host America's Army servers before they closed down.
  • Shown Their Work: Obviously, as it's by the Army, so the developers aren't going to make too many factual mistakes.
  • Shur Fine Guns: Weapons aren't so unreliable as to be frequently dramatic, but they do jam.
  • Sniping Mission: Advanced marksmanship training.
  • Standard FPS Guns: M16 and AK-47 assault rifles, 9mm Beretta pistols, AT4 and RPG-7 rocket launchers, M67 frag grenades, SPR and SVD marksman rifles, and M24 and M82A1 sniper rifles.
  • Stay Frosty: Said by a Voice with an Internet Connection on one map.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: Special Forces Escape & Evasion training.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Parodied in the drowning death message that literally states the character "forgot to come up for air."
  • Swiss-Army Weapon: Not exactly a Shapeshifting weapon, but players can choose what SOPMOD attachments they have on their customized M4A1 Carbine.
    • In the old version of the training in America's Army, a Drill Sergeant mentions the use of duct tape for modifying AK-series weapons, with perhaps a tinge of humor.
  • Take Cover!: There is no actual cover system, but players are instructed to do so.
  • Tap on the Head: Realistically subverted in America's Army 3, a melee attack to the back of the neck is lethal.
  • Throw-Away Guns: In earlier versions, weapons could be dropped. Averted in America's Army 3, in which players cannot drop any weapon they started with.
  • Timed Mission: Certain portions of training and all online missions. Like most online games, this is simply a gameplay consideration and little-to-no explanation is given for the arbitrary time limits.
  • Universal Driver's License: Averted, players must be trained to drive the HMMWV before they may do so.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Makarov pistol, various explosives. They are the same as what the players get except cosmetically, so there's no reason why players would want to take them anyway. Was going also be done for the enemy weapons in America's Army 3, in which players would have only been allowed to take the enemy's STANAG magazines and not their weapons, but the development team changed it after players complained.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Players who demonstrate unprofessional conduct (i.e. harming friendlies or civilians) are punished to varying degrees.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: One complaint that has been lodged against the game is that it sometimes assumes too much of the knowledge the player has about its subject matter. Fortunately, this mostly manifests in the game's flavor details rather than its actual mechanics. Those acronyms can be learned soon enough.
  • What the Hell, Player?: Players who shoot Drill Sergeants or recruits during training are sent to Fort Leavenworth.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Not exactly like that, but if a fireteam leader or squad leader is killed, the position is passed down for that round.