Armed Assault, a DVD-ROM in English by Bohemia Interactive, distributed by Hed Artzi Multimedia with a 40-page Hebrew-language user's manual, requires Windows XP or higher and a 2 ghz PC, for ages 16 through adult, NIS 219. Rating: **** Devotees of tactical war simulators will get a feeling of deja vu playing this game, as it is very reminiscent of 2001's Operation Flashpoint, produced by the same independent computer and console game developer based in Prague. It was a very realistic game, and a subsequent version of it was used by the US Marine Corps and the armies of Australia and New Zealand to train their troops. The gameplay in both Flashpoint and Armed Assault is very similar, which is good, and the user interface is more friendly, which is even better - but the graphics engine is like that of Flashpoint, which makes it rather old-fashioned. The background too sounds familiar. The setting for this game is on the fictional island of Sahrani, a spacious territory of 400 square kilometers populated by two politically opposing sides, one in the north and one in the south. The northerners attack the south, recalling the actual history of Korea or Vietnam, with the former utilizing Russian-designed Warsaw Pact arms and their opponents using American-designed NATO equipment. You are training the southerners to fight when enemy troops from the north breach the border fence and overrun your territory. During free play, you take the role of either side, but during the campaign mode, you can play only from the NATO side (which will be frustrating for those who prefer the "bad guys"). It is rather odd that software companies have not yet chosen real-life battlefronts in such places as Iraq, Afghanistan or Iran instead of making up an imaginary location. You begin with a tutorial that gives you your bearings. Then you can choose between the "veteran" or "cadet" levels of difficulty. Even experienced gamers should start with cadet, as many of the missions are very difficult to carry out; you may get frustrated even as a cadet, when you can save them game at any time, which is not an option as a veteran. The default perspective for playing is first person (your own), which is the better choice when plodding along on foot, but sometimes your uniformed arms will get in the way of objects you want to see. In fact, you won't be standing up much of the time, but rather lying on your belly with your weapons, crawling along and keeping your head down to avoid getting hit by bullets whistling over you. By the way, the sound effects - from the wail of helicopter engines to the whizzing of bullets - are authentic and loud, and I had to turn down the volume below the level of the actors. Gamers can also choose a third-person perspective, which is especially useful when you want to control military and civilian cars, tanks, planes, helicopters and boats, of which there are nearly three dozen different models. As many as 100 men can fight simultaneously in one battle. You can't rout the enemy alone; teamwork with your buddies is the name of the game if you want to overcome the northerners. About a dozen missions in the single-player mode must be carried out in the sequence in which they are presented. The scenarios are quite interesting and complex, and the military simulations are impressive and realistic, which is why it is being used in three countries to train troops. The farther you go into the missions, the more weapons and vehicles you can unlock from the game's "library." In addition, the multiplayer mode pitting you against others in cyberspace enables gamers to scout the whole island, both north and south, and mount any vehicle or plane and filch weapons. But the graphics are a letdown: Most scenes look good from a distance, but when you get up very close, they often appear cheap and gross. Like an uncut diamond, Armed Assault is not flawless, but it has a great deal of potential. If the guys at Bohemia Interactive were given another chance to polish up this disk, clean up the graphics engine and fix up the bugs, it would be considered one of the finest in this genre of first-person combat simulators.