American tax dollars at work: The US military us spending $57 million on "the most realistic military simulator ever developed," using Crytek's CryEngine 3.
Called the Dismounted Soldier Training System (DSTS) and in development from Intelligent Decisions, the simulator allows the Army to train using a videogame environment with real weather effects, squad-based interactions, and motion sensor tech.
"What we're trying to do with infantry squad-level training is suspension of disbelief, and the CryEngine 3 is the best video game technology on the market today," said Floyd West, director of strategic programs, Orlando Division of Intelligent Decisions.
"With CryEngine 3 being used for Crysis 2 and the capabilities that game engine provides, it allows us to make the most realistic simulation possible. We're able to transport soldiers to accurately recreated locales like Afghanistan and Iraq, where we can simulate everything from visuals to 360-degree sound."
Army personnel will use special "head-mounted displays on their helmets," to be able to use the virtual word, but will also need to use "real-world peripheral vision to ensure they don't bump into their squad mates."
Each soldier will also don a backpack, called a "man wearable system," which is basically a laptop, and then run around using the simulator, which is a training area with a 10-by-10 foot pad.
"While the man wearable units aren't running on an off-the-shelf Alienware, the internal components themselves are commercial off-the-shelf CPU's and GPU's like NVIDIA graphic cards and whatnot," said West during his interview with GamePro.
"The goal is to complete common operating environments, so the things the Army is doing today would be Afghanistan, the mountainous, cavernous regions, and the Iraqi desert-like regions, as well as wooded areas.
"We have some geotypical and common operating environments built-in for training, but the system will come with an editor that allows real missions to be created in the field."
West went on to say CryEngine 3 was used due to the tech's ability to accurately depict: "ground vehicles, aircraft, dismounted infantry, and guided weapons, footprints, disturbed soil and grass, rolling terrain, and dense vegetation."
It will also allow military trainers to modify a particular mission before sending Special Forces or other soldiers out.
The Army plans to have 102 systems installed globally by January 2012.