Alliance of Valiant Arms is a free to play online-only first person shooter that features modern weapons and modern style gameplay like many shooters in the genre. AVA was released in 2007 for PC and it was more or less buried among popular shooters like Call of Duty, Battlefield and Counter Strike. While it is not a popular game it seems to have grabbed a small but, committed group of players. AVA does not deviate much from the standard mechanics and gameplay expected from modern first person shooters. It’s not bringing anything new to the genre, simply it’s a solid multiplayer game with an underlying feeling of potential and fun. It does not feature a single player campaign rather, it focuses solely on online multiplayer. Set in a modern world in places like the middle east and eastern Europe AVA provides the standard match types people know and love. Annihilation, Demolition and Free for All modes serve as the team deathmatch, bomb disposal and deathmatch modes. Along with that there are a number of somewhat creative match types like Escort and Escape. In Escort players have to protect and escort a tank from one side of the map to the other while fighting the opposing team. Escape is a bit more fast paced, players have one life and need to reach a boat on the other side of the map to escape without being killed by the opposing team.
There are enough match types to keep you playing but, certain match types are frequently hard to find. Military drill match types like Cross Steal (capture the flag) and Domination are hard to find leading players to create a match or simply focusing on the popular games like Annihilation, AI mission and Demolition. AI matches add another bit of variety to AVA. A small group of players can battle the AI in a number modes like Lockdown and survival just to name a couple. Lockdown features players locked in a Prison facility fighting off prisoners to make it to the next wave and Survival is a bit more like Call of Duty zombies I suppose. Players fight off waves of robots that increasingly get bigger and stronger after each round.
With all these match types comes a large number of maps that are surprisingly quite good. There are a wide variety of maps set in the Middle East, Egypt, Eastern Europe, industrial areas, European villages, a shopping center and even a rural map filled with windmills you can shoot from. The only problem is certain maps are exclusive to certain match types. The high multitude of maps give the game some more replay value and some maps have some interesting moments. One map in particular has a train running through it every minute so, if you are not careful you might get run over. The Airbourne maps has players parachute in every time they respawn which makes it a blast to drop down behind someone and knife them. At first some maps may appear small and simple to maneuver but the developers have given each map a variety of routes and way to escape or attack enemies. Over time players can discover these multiple routes and inconspicuous spots and learn how sprint through them to gain an advantage opposing players. The game is quite fast paced, players will die in respawn quickly and be sprinting into battle once again. It’s almost like a shooter on 1.5 speed, everyone is sprinting around and shooting each other adding a sense of constant instant gratification from kills. This fast paced gameplay leads to a low amount of camping which creates a more enjoyable experience contrary to Call of Duty and its camper infested maps.
There are plenty of the weapons like M16s, AKs and MP5s but, many take quite a bit of play time to unlock unless players decide to buy AP points to purchase them from the start as well as custom armor, helmets etc. Some of the players I encountered had colorful gold and red AKs with bayonets on them. For players willing to spend real money in AVA these cosmetic features add an incentive to spend some money to make their characters stand out. Although players can purchase better weapons if they choose to spend real money, it does not really give players much of an advantage. Most of the 20 hours or so I spent playing, I used the weapons initially provided at the start of the game. There are only 3 class types, point man, rifleman and sniper and each class sadly doesn’t have any features or advantages other than the change in weapons. There are no classes with medics, C4 charges or gadgets so, each class is basically the same except the type of primary weapon players can choose. Visually the game is decent, it has been around since 2007 so, it does show its age. I was able to run it on max settings with a Macbook Pro and it looked solid so, players can typically run this on low end computers. The maps had plenty of color and the lighting effects were adequate. Don’t expect this six year old game to compete with the vsuals of Battlefield or Blacklight Retribution. Soundwise there was nothing to pick at but, nothing interesting. Grenades exploding sounded authentic, each gun had it’s unique muzzle sound and players were able to yell the default battle calls. Sadly the game does not feature any type of voice chat.
In the end Alliance of Valiant Arms is a solid free to play online shooter. It does not not stand out in the pact but, it is easy to play, has tons of maps and a variety of game modes. Gamers who have purchased Call of Duty or Battlefield will have no real reason to play this. Yet gamers short on cash who want a solid online first person shooter experience should at least give this free title a try.