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Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising Hands On Review
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So it’s launch day of Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising here in the UK. Codemasters Action Studio’s much anticipated fictional war first person shooter has finally arrived. I got in around 3-4hrs play before launch, so wanted to give you my thoughts of the title so far, watch out for a full review over the next week (that’s if I can get passed this damn second level)

Operation Flashpoint sets you out on a fictional island off the north coast of Japan called Skira and for centuries the balance of power of this island has been in the hands of Chinese, Japanese and a joint force of American/Russian interests. Since the 2008 economic decline China’s resources have been hit hard and as a result of the discovery of oil and gas field reserves are on the island. A battle ensues between China and Russia on the Russian border and Russian forces request American help to intervene in Skira and so it happens, you’re in the game and set objective based missions to destroy the Chinese militaries infrastructure.

It’s somewhat spooky that the 2008 economic collapse has been drafted into this title, but it certainly adds a sense of believability to the game itself. Codemasters have done a fantastic job of actually introducing the game. There is no narrator, just dramatic music and a credit sequence similar to a territorial army, advert. It’s quite refreshing to see a game introduced this way, it’s certainly allot better than other war based FPS games that fall at the first hurdle with terrible voice acting.

In terms of how the game handles, you have your standard set up of left trigger to zoom your weapon, right trigger to shoot, LB button to sprint and the face buttons to jig around weapons, reload them, open doors and enter vehicles.

The D-Pad controls the more finite additions such as your flashlight, engine noise in vehicles and so forth. These all work fine, apart from the quick command system which operates between the D-PAD and the analogue stick, when using the pop-up HUD it becomes a nightmare issuing commands efficiently under pressure, even when trying to select an individual man the analogue stick would sometimes auto select them all and commit all your men to the same command. This is annoying and something you’ll spend the first 3-4 hours of play adjusting to.

Thankfully you can press the back button and go to a MAP where you can plan your commands, but it’s still a little finicky and un-user friendly. I don’t know whether it’s down to the sheer wealth of options available that the 360’s controller simply doesn’t have enough buttons available to select them easily enough, it certainly does appear it could have been thought out better, put it that way. As a point of reference I’d have loved to have seen this game give the player an added level of realism by giving command controls to the 360 headset, voice commands would really make you feel like you are at the heart of a battle. Ubisoft’s ENDWAR successfully implemented it into an RTS, so it must be even easier to put it in a squad based shooter, no?

In Operation Flashpoint 2 you’ll find the combat a cat and mouse affair, constantly having to tweak your squad’s positions to avoid being flanked and overwhelmed. The ability to defend and attack gives the player great control over his soldiers and there is no questioning the superb AI on display here. The weapons are extremely realistic and tracer fire is a little scary, especially when bullets ravage your body. To give you an idea of the level of detail Codemasters have gone to, you’ll find if you are shooting from a very long distance your fire will arc across the sky, you may need to adjust your level of shooting to hit that pesky Chinese military foe at long range. You can call for a medic to save you (only if you have enough men alive) you can heal your squad, even call in air support at the appropriate times.

Graphically Operation Flashpoint 2 isn’t going to blow you away, but it’s a massive island that is seemly accessible in real time, this is important because secondary objectives are often allot further away from your primary targets, who wants loading times midway through a mission? I don’t and thankfully there are none here, or if there are it’s cleverly hidden in a communication update. To compare the game graphically you’re probably looking at the same level of detail as in FUEL, another game published by Codemasters. Currently I’m stuck on the second mission and I’m playing the game through on normal. This game isn’t designed for run and gun COD players, it’s designed for those that like to plan attacks, shoot through vegetated cover and recon spots before taking it to the enemy. It’ll please those that love true realistic combat. Purists will love it, others will hate it, there simply is no accessibility here for the casual player and neither was their any intention for it either.

Don’t forget to check out the full review coming over the next week and hopefully this hands on review, will entice you to either buy it, or lump it depending on your shooting preference.

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  • https://?u=bax88 Alan Baxter

    Couldn’t agree more with everything said.

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