Crouching down in the long grass, I adjust my scope and try to get a decent shot at the guard by the gate. I hear shouting and look to my right just in time to see an adversary aiming in my general direction. The sound of gunshot rings through the air and I fall to the ground. Game Over. Welcome to Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising.
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is published by Codemasters and is available on the Xbox360, PS3 and PC. Welcome to Skira Island, a 220sq KM land mass in the Pacific Ocean, north of Japan. This island is the setting for Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising. The detailed and believable back story finds the player taking the role of a US marine, in aÂ conflict with the Chinese PLA over the islands oil resources.
The Operation Flashpoint series is known for its realistic take on war, and this installment in the series is no exception. The player is put in charge of a group of soldiers, that consists of three other soldiers and themselves, and are given objectives to carry out. How the player executes these orders is entirely up to the player. The island is a wide open map and the player is only limited by the current mission. If moving around the village and assaulting from the other side seems like the safest way to go, then by all means do that. If there is a safer vantage point on the hill, use that rather than sneaking through the long grass. Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising gives the player an objective and then the freedom to execute it how they see fit.
Controlling your squad mates is performed by use of the directional pad and a number of menus. Give your orders and watch them carried out, being it simply to follow you, or going and healing a teammate in the thick of the action. There are even some vehicles to control at certain points of the game, including a helicopter.
“As close to war as you ever want to get” is the tagline on the box of Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, and how true it is. This game tries to be very realistic, and that may be its biggest fault. Even in normal mode, the game is hard. Being killed by one bullet is true to life, scarce checkpoints and a realistic wounding model make for a great simulator, but sadly not that much fun. Apparently war is not the all out action movie that we have come to love in games such as Call of Duty, but more a slow trek across a huge field for half an hour followed by three minutes of intense combat, during which one bullet could mean starting it all again.
This game is a shooter for the strategic mind. In a game where getting shot could spell game over at the worst, or at the least mean having to get healed before bleeding out and then playing the game through with limited health, the best idea is not getting shot. Slow and careful are the order of the day.
The games AI is not the brightest either. Most of the time your comrades do what you want, but sometimes they do something that is so mind-blowingly stupid, such as trying to take cover in plain sight of the enemy, that you think they deserve what they get. The enemy AI is also prone to these irrational impulses as well.
Enough complaining, I hear you say, get to the good stuff. Graphically the game is beautiful. Although mostly greens and browns, it does a great job of recreating the island in all of its imaginary glory. The equipment, vehicles and buildings are finished to the highest standards and are recreated to near perfection. The characters and their animation is also done really well, although some minor glitches can be seen, like soldiers getting stuck in doorways etc. There is not much to be said about the sound effects. Gunfire is gunfire and explosions are explosions. They sound real enough for me. The voice acting seems a little bit bland, but doesn’t detract from the realism.
Taking the game co-op is the answer to the dodgy team mates AI problem. Play through the missions with up to three friends and then get a real sense of what war is all about. Playing with friends really increases the realism of the game, with a great sense of loss when you lose a comrade. Taking the game online is certainly the best way to enjoy war.
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is an intense, realistic shooter for the strategic mind. It is fun, but not in the traditional sense of the word. If you want a shooter that will make you think, and where a mistake could be your last, then certainly try this game out.