After two hours of tense waiting, the op was launched. The four of us, all policemen wearing night-vision goggles, slithered from our vehicles, spread out silently, and sprinted around the darkened buildings in the middle of the night. We converged on the civilian helicopter pilot who had landed nearby a moment ago, surrounding him, our weapons drawn and ready. Then we politely asked him to produce his pilot's license. He promptly did. We thanked him, dispersed, and met back at the vehicles. No illegal activity had transpired. Mission accomplished.
Altis Life, the police and civilian role-playing server mod for Arma 3, reminds me a bit of the time the very little time I spent on a few Garry's Mod role-playing servers. Rather than engage in multiplayer warfare, players engage in, well, virtual life. If you're playing a civilian, you buy a car, get a job, and collect a paycheck. If you're a cop, you police the civilians and enforce the law. The laws that include the requirement to have a proper license to operate vehicles such as helicopters, boats, and cars, hence the covert nighttime op.
Cool goggles! And they only cost $2 billion.
Speaking of cars, after the exciting conclusion of Operation: Does That Guy Have The Proper Paperwork To Fly A Helicopter, we drive off and stop at a street corner where our vehicles can be hidden behind bushes. My commanding officer (technically he's a private, but he's got better gear than I do, plus, he orders me around a lot) shows me how to use my pistol as a radar gun. Any cars going over 100 kph counts as a speeding violation, so we can stop anyone we record speeding. In the hour spent on the side of that road, we detect no cars going over 100. We see no cars at all, in fact. We just sort of stand there for an hour.
I feel the NEED. The NEED for SPEED. Detection. And apprehension of civilian motorists.
Why so much time spent watching for speeders and interrogating helicopter pilots? Well, one of the jobs civilians can undertake in Altis Life is that of a drug mule. They can collect drugs from dealers (helpfully marked on the map!) and transport them around the world. That's why we stopped the chopper pilot and why we've been standing here for ages waiting for cars to pass by.
It's hard to look casual while hovering, but this NPC drug dealer pulls it off.
Eventually, we go straight to the source: a dealer of drugs. This is an NPC quest-giver that we can interrogate. We surround this ne'er-do-well, who is somehow hovering several feet off the ground (probably high on dope!) but no one has had dealings with him lately, so it's expenditure of of time with no crooks jailed or shot or even detected.
Growing a little tired of spending hours waiting for crime to show up so I can fight it, I run off on my own for a bit. That's right, I've gone rogue. For all I know, my partners are all dirty, trying to distract the one good cop (me) from the real criminal activity. I head to an NPC turtle dealer on the map poaching turtles is illegal and pounce on him. He spills no info either, and no one tries to sell him turtle meat while I'm standing there with my gun drawn. I guess it's good that the crime rate on this server is zero, but it doesn't really make for thrilling action. But then, this is a life simulator, so it's to be expected.
Serpico? I'm more like DERPico. Or SerpiCAN'T. Or, oh, I just stink.
As a cop, I'm a complete bust, so to speak. I decide to join a new server and try on the civilian lifestyle instead. For civvies, there are a few basic tasks to get started. First, head to an ATM and withdraw some money. From there, head to a DMV to acquire a driver's license. Finally, visit a car shop to purchase some wheels: Altis is a massive map, and you won't be going far on foot. Then, if you're me, the next step is to run yourself over with your own car.
Like Ralphie from Christmas Story, that which I yearned for hath become my undoing.
I'm not sure how I fell in front of my own moving car thirty seconds after purchasing it, but chalk it up to not being particularly familiar with all of Arma's 6,439 control keys. Anyway, I'm fine. The only thing hurt is my pride, and my spine, and probably my car's tyre. It doesn't matter much: a few minutes later, I crash my car while trying to read the map while driving, so I have to downgrade to an ATV.
The server I'm on seems to have a lot more illegal activity than the other one. For instance, I drive back to the ATM to take out some more cash so I can buy a pickaxe I want to do some salt mining but all my money is gone. This is because the Federal Reserve has been robbed by outlaws. In fact, it seems to be getting robbed more or less all the time.
What. I'm just driving to the bank wearing night-vision goggles. Is that suspicious or something?
I head to the bank to take a look at it myself, and perhaps have some stern words with the robbers. Do they know the real victims are civilians? Do they know I just want to buy a pickaxe and mine salt and earn an honest living? On my way there, an SUV rams me, and then a cop jumps out and shoots me to death. Sheesh! The criminals are awful and the cops are trigger happy. Is there no room in this world for an honest salt-miner?
In my next life, I respawn and run to the police station to complain, both about the police force's inability to protect the bank and the fact that a policeman just bullet-murdered me without so much as a verbal warning. I'm stopped at the station by another officer, who cuffs me, points a gun at my virtual junk, and tells me he'll put me in jail if I don't leave the premises.
Please don't shoot me in the penis. I can't afford to buy a new one.
It seems no matter which side I'm on, cops or civvies, my Altis Life is a challenging one. Fun, though. If you're looking to do a little roleplaying as a drug trafficker, bank robber, jerk cop, or innocent civilian, I recommend checking it out. The official site is here.
Installation: You don't need to install anything. Just start Arma 3 and look (or filter) for an Altis Life RPG server. When you join you'll be able to choose if you want to be police or civilian. A lot of servers appear to save your progress as well and will keep track of your collected stuff and cash. Much like DayZ, most servers restart every couple of hours.