It may not look like much, but the game's pretty fun if you're into slower-paced shooters.
There's also an online multiplayer component to Rise of a Soldier that's wholly separate from the campaign. Just like the single-player game, your online avatar can improve in rank with experience and skill points earned from participating in online matches. However, the character you created and built in the single-player game can't be brought online, and vice versa. Your online and offline personas are entirely different. Games are restricted to 16 players, with eight players on each team. What's interesting is that each player on each team has a specific role, like squad leader, fire team leader, heavy weapons specialist, sniper specialist, and so on. The specialist roles are not only given weapon privileges, but can do other special things like call in mortar strikes. Only players with a certain amount of experience points are allowed to take the specialist positions, so if you're new to the game, you'll have to earn your way up by playing as a regular rifleman.
The maps are usually objective-based, with one team having to protect certain assets like a helicopter or area from another team, but often times, games just boil down to one team eliminating the other team entirely. And unlike the PC version, you'll find that one team actually does take the role of "indigenous forces," which is just a fancy way of saying you don't always play as US Army. You'll even be able to use weapons that resemble Eastern-bloc style Kalashnikov rifles, and RPGs. Each match is played in round format, in which each player is allowed only one life. If you are shot, you can be revived if a teammate comes and bandages you within a brief period of time, but you'll recover in a very compromised state, unable to aim or move as well as you could while healthy. The maps are generally pretty large and intricate, some requiring quite a bit of teamwork. Snipers, for example, often need teammates armed with heavier weapons to blow open doors for them so they can climb up into towers and other elevated positions. In situations where the game is full, experienced players will actually set up feints, distracting one team from one side, while the other fire team tries to flank around another side. Your experience, of course, may vary depending on the quality of players you find, but overall, playing Rise of a Soldier online is a pretty fun experience, and we experienced little in the way of network latency to mar the gameplay.
If there's any way in which the game is somewhat of a letdown, it's that the graphics are starting to look dated. Character models offer an acceptable level of detail, but they animate oddly, sometimes appearing to moonwalk during the cutscenes. We also noticed vehicles with wheels that didn't appear to spin as they moved. And while there are buildings to walk into and explore, there isn't much in the way of furniture or interior adornment; nor is there much added detail in outdoor environments. The other aspects of the presentation are pretty good, though, like the clean menu screens and tons of real US Army action footage and photos. If anything, though, the exciting video of Army soldiers in action looks a little too slick and well edited, and serves as part of the game's unspoken but still palpable recruiting pitch. As far as sound effects go, Rise of a Soldier sounds great with its sharp gun effects, the muffled thud of exploding grenades, and plenty of voice during training and combat missions, so you always know what you need to be doing. We could have done without the sloppy rock soundtrack in the menus, though, most of which sounds like an even worse version of Limp Bizkit.
While America's Army: Rise of a Soldier may look like a three-year-old game, it doesn't play like one. The amount of thought and polish put into the gameplay over the years definitely shows. The RPG-like way in which you build your character works well, because the attributes you work on are all meaningful and have tangible effects on the gameplay. If you're someone who appreciates a shooter that goes at a more deliberate pace and attempts to model combat realistically, you'll want to check out Rise of a Soldier.