Get Real: America's Army Proving Grounds

The Tacticool Jerk post series is still running. I'm just taking a break.

Today I'm going to talk about a game I've been playing, America's Army: Proving Grounds.

I've been playing this game for a while now and I've gotten pretty addicted. It's a hard game to master, but once you get the hang of it, it's pretty fun. A realistic military shooter sponsored by the U.S. Army, AAPG is the sequel to America's Army Three which is similar in its basic idea, but the two games are quite different.

When I first started playing this, it was very difficult and frustrating, the only way to get good at it is to practice. If you have played other first person shooters, that will help you out a lot too.

Today, I figured I would just talk about my current in-game experience. Not exactly a review, but I can imagine that this post could definitely influence you as to whether you would want to play this game or not.

Anyways, so AAPG is pretty realistic as far as video games go. It mimics the stress and chaos of real-world combat, and its damage model means that you can get killed very quickly with a variety of weapons if you're not careful.

AAPG doesn't have respawn per se, but you can be revived by teammates if they can reach you and bandage you before you bleed out. But some hits are fatal, and if you get choked out, you can't be revived, or if an enemy player reaches you first and handcuffs you with zipties.

Thankfully, the rounds have a pretty quick turnaround so you don't have to wait too long even if you get killed or secured.

Lately,I have been playing a lot on Bridge: Extract. This is a fun map and I steered away from it at first (fearing snipers) but once you get your feet wet, its a lot of fun to play. The particular server that I've been playing a lot has no limits on weapons, which means that each team can have whatever weapons they want.

 Usually, each team is limited to two snipers, two DMRs, two machine guns and so on, but with this server, the whole team can load out with sniper rifles if they want to, which gives you plenty of freedom for your playstyle.
Friendly player getting revived (note the objective backpack)

For sniping, this map is excellent. I was doing pretty well sniping, but I became annoyed by enemy snipers that I can't see that hit me out of seemingly nowhere. The map is shrouded with fog, which prevents snipers from ruling the battlefield with impunity.

But there are plenty of channels and beaten paths that players travel, presenting a fair amount of targets if you are a good shot and don't expose yourself too much.

Sniper leaning out from cover with M24 sniper rifle

Bridge isn't just for snipers though. The areas under and around the center bridge tower are usually hotly contested with assault rifles, handguns, and grenades.

 For a few rounds I played with a shotgun and I dropped a bunch of enemies using that and my M9 pistol while holed up around some roadblocks underneath the tower. The M9 pistol is a 9mm handgun and carries 16 rounds.
It's counter part, the Colt 1911 .45 is pretty cool, but only carries 8 rounds and has harsher recoil.

I have dropped many opponents with the M9 but only one with the M1911, and that was a rare situation. I'm not a very good shot, and I rely more on volume of fire rather than accuracy.

Therefore, I pretty much always carry the M9. I'm sure I could get a kill or two with the .45, but to me its not worth it. I get a much better kill/death ratio with the M9 than I would if I used the 1911.

M9 in action

For sniping, the bolt-action M24 is king. It's a lot of fun to shoot, and its rate of fire is pretty fast even though its a bolt-action.

 In one instance, a downed enemy was lying on the ground next to the center tower. This is a fairly dangerous spot, as it is pretty exposed to sniper fire. An enemy came out from cover to revive him, and in the ensuing chaos I as tried to shoot them, the downed NME was revived and got up.

But then I managed to drop both of them within five seconds of each other. Getting back-to-back kills isn't too hard when your using the M24. It's a real good gun.

In the extract game mode, the attacking team has to move the objective (blue guidon flag) from their side of the field to the other.
The defending team has to prevent them from extracting the objective, which appears as a black and blue backpack on the player carrying it. If this player gets dropped or killed, the objective appears as a flag again and stays in place til somebody picks it up again.

Teams can win by eliminating each other, or the attack team can win by completing the objective. Defense can win if the attackers run out of time. Most rounds are won by wiping the other team out.

Enemy player getting revived
When playing defense, most of my team (including myself in several rounds) would run right out onto the front lines, right up to the center bridge tower, which is probably the hottest zone on the map, populated by grenade explosions, snipers shooting through it, and gunfights blazing under and around it.

I noticed that most of our team (about two-thirds) would get involved in this heavy combat, and get killed. With such a hotly contested zone it was hard for these soldiers to get revived, and the enemy team would usually push on to our side of the bridge, where there would be a hazy gun battle as they threw smoke grenades and tried to get over to the extraction point.

The extraction point is populated with a ton of shipping containers that are really good for hiding behind and ambushing opponents.

Jumping on this bandwagon (as well as mimicking the tactic of another player) I equipped myself with a M249 machine gun, fitted with a red-dot scope (non-magnifying) and I held back in the shipping container area.

I played a few rounds like this, some where I went out into the action and fell back later, others where I went into action and got killed, and at least another where I stayed back for the duration of the round.

I found this to be very effective, as you can ambush the whole surviving enemy team, blasting them all away as they try to get to extract. In one round, myself and a few other survivors managed to accomplish this. I killed several enemies with my M249, and I got the last player using my M9.

Pistols can be fired extremely fast in the game, and I've noticed that the M9 is like a backup submachine gun. At medium ranges you can drop opponents with aimed double or triple taps, and at close range, you can just empty the entire magazine, spraying your opponent with lead.

If you are playing with a sniper rifle, having a handgun is very useful, unless you can pick up a third gun from a fallen player. Weapons that other players drop come with extra magazines, so its a pretty sweet deal, especially if you get to pick up a enemy weapon.

This is a schematic of the situation explained below. The enemies are coming from the right side, and their routes are represented by the red lines. I'm the yellow dot, and the killzone (marked out with the thin red lines) represents my field of fire.
In another round I managed to drop a bunch of opponents with my M249 as they presented themselves, but I made the incredibly stupid mistake of trying to secure an opponent right in front of me.

There was no chance for this guy to be revived since he was lying right in front of me and there was no point in doing it this late in the round when everything was down to the wire. I probably wouldn't have been killed if I had just been smart and waited for the last enemies to come into my field of fire. When I was zip tying this guy, an enemy player quickly dropped me with his assault rifle.

Getting a takedown (chokehold kill) is one of the hardest in-game feats. I have only managed to do this once, and it was in a situation where I was fighting another player one on one, and he was less experienced than me.

 I would like to get takedowns more regularly. As for me, I have been taken down a embarrassing amount of times. Or the circumstances were embarrassing, because the same player choked me out three times in the same spot about three rounds in a row.

Takedowns are a fancy pants move, they do have the tactical advantage of being quiet, (shooting can really give away your position) and whoever you choke out can't be revived, so there's no chance of them getting back in action.

But usually, players go out of their way to do a takedown just because its so cool and really marks you out as being skilled (not to mention its pretty humiliating to the victim).

However this can really backfire, as I remember a player who attempted to sneak up on another player to take him down, but the other player turned around and shot him. Going for a takedown is a calculated risk and you have to be careful.  Usually its just easier and safer to shoot somebody when you get the drop on them.

And that principle is pretty accurate in real-life combat, as knife fights and things like that are pretty rare. Its always best to kill your enemies from as far away as possible.

 In one round where I was playing the VIP, I only had a pistol with sixteen rounds and no extra magazines. I got the drop on another player, and if my profile statistics are correct, I killed this player with just one round to the head. I could have attempted a takedown, but there's a good chance I would have met the same fate as the previous example. You have to be smart! This is no game for Rambo. Its for brainy, patient Rambo!


  1. Dude we need to get together and play this sometime I started playing but gave up because it is so team oriented and I had no one to play it with ~ Daniel Loyd

    1. Really? Awesome! I wanted to find someone to play with too. That would be so cool. Just two players working in tandem could probably do a ton of damage. I was just going to play right now, I'm usually available in the the afternoons. Tell me what works for you and maybe we can work it out!

    2. Hey Andrew, Sorry I never got back to you but Work has had me soo busy l8ly, Imma DL AAPG tonight and I'll setup a time to play tomorrow, not necessarily play tomorrow but figure out when we can. Do you still have my Email? idk if I have your's anymore.

    3. Well about that.. hate to be a bail-out jerk, but I uninstalled AAPG, I was getting really good at it but it was becoming a bit stressful. XD

      I don't mind playing it again though if we can figure out a time. Since you're busy a lot I figure we wouldn't be doing it a whole lot and I don't mind playing it all, I would just need to redownload it which is no big deal. We can definitely work that out and it would be great to play together again.

      If you figure out some times that could work tell me, because I'm fairly flexible.

    4. Lol much has happened to you in the past few days. You go from a glowing 1700+ word review to uninstalling the game ROFL. NAh you don't have to re-DL it? is there any other games that have caught your momentary interest? xD If not maybe you would be interested in Project Reality it is a standalone mode for battlefield 2 that was mad to resemble ARMA. It is complex but rewarding.

    5. Yeah, I know. It was a good run though, I was getting pretty good at it. Right now I don't have any games installed. If we were to play anything I would probably just RD AAPG.

      I was looking at PR and it does look awesome. Can you play it with VoIP only with the people you know? Players always use profanity, so I couldn't really play it if it is such a teamwork-based game. I read that solo players can even get kicked from servers. But I'm still pretty interested in it.

    6. Yah or you can just mute anyone you don't like/want-to-hear. Really we could just play Co-op if you like no one cares about VOIP when you are playing bots. Or we can make our own server.
      Email me at Oldwornoutbook@live.com and we can set something up.
      Oh and there is also a game called blacksquad that I have been playing alot it has blood but it is not exorbitant and there is an option to decrease the amount and turn it black. Its pretty fun. or mybe we could play Creativerse it is an awesome Minecraftesque game that is a ton of fun.

  2. Wow, sounds like you've got this down to a science. I know that I personally am exceptionally bad at first person shooters, despite playing them since I could walk. So I compensate for my inability to hit things by packing a squad support weapon to every fight:) The strategy element of combat is more my speciality. One important thing Iv'e learned it not to move out of cover towards combat while reloading. My family tried AA3 a while ago but found it to slow, clunky and overly realism based. Realism is good, but not at expense of good gameplay. Difference between a game and a simulator. But AAPG sounds fun. I really like your Gif's.

    1. Yeah AA3 was pretty rough. AAPG is still realistic, but I feel like they took on a more modern approach, and made it more like a mainstream video game.

      Yeah, I love how tactical it can get, between predicting your opponents and choosing your position and everything, its sort of like airsoft.

      Thanks, I've been collecting them, building up a good repository, they really make posts more interesting.


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