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Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising Review
Review Score:

There is a gap in the market for realistic war simulations at the moment and for those that believe the Call Of Duty series to have any semblance of realism please press ALT+F4 followed by Return now! Now we have a sensible audience left with us, I’ll continue. For the console market the only combat based FPS games that offer anything close to real warfare are with developers Ubisoft and their Tom Clancy franchises. There is no denying the quality of both GRAW 2 and the original Rainbow Six Vegas (let’s forget the second one, as the single player was a cop out) Since it was announced, Codemasters anticipation to bring the second iteration of Operation Flashpoint to life was a welcomed one. We’ve seen allot of polished footage throughout the last year and with the possibility of real ballistic properties and a plethora real life weapons, it certainly had us oozing so much, that we needed a second change of boxer shorts. So, now the game is out, has it delivered?

Story – 8

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 military infrastructure. Why America would team up with Russia defies some logic, but on the flipside perhaps the financial elite that attend the Bilderberg group meetings will at some point make it a reality. I digress, its fiction, anything can happen right!

The way the story is told throughout is refreshing with the game starting with no narrator, just atmospheric music and a credit sequence similar to that of Territorial Army adverts seen in the United Kingdom. When the actual game gets going you are told through communication systems your objectives and this helps pan out the overall picture in a similar format adopted in Epic’s Gears Of War ,mid-mission.

Gameplay – 7

So, how much gusto do we have here? Well in terms of the content you are looking at a single player campaign, 2 multiplayer game modes along with an online version of the single player campaign or single based missions. So, multiplayer aside (we’ll discuss that in its own right) Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is undeniably an interesting single player experience. Interesting in the fact that it’s managed to extract from me every single emotion I’ve ever come across from playing a videogame, well, apart from crying. The game is tense it requires you to think tactically at every stroke, whilst also asking you to make split second decisions to turn battles in your favour. In terms of atmosphere, this game has it in abundance and it doesn’t require any background music to set the tone either, it’s the tracer fire of Chinese PLA, the weeping of your injured comrade and the incredibly life like sound of munitions crashing around you, which has you often fearing for your life, hiding in bushes or just running like hell!

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising does have several difficulty modes, but instead of increasing the enemy AI or amount of spawned enemies Codemasters have instead taken away your designated marker points and HUD, so you have to listen to your men, navigate with your binoculars, remember when your players get hurt and remember how many bullets are left in your clip, the orienteering aspect of finding things by yourself, listening to where your enemies are catapults the simulation aspect to new heights.

This is a military simulator in every respect, so don’t expect much love when it comes to standing up point blank without any cover, your body will be ridden with hot metal whilst your frantically scurry on the floor (if your lucky not to be dead) to patch yourself up or call in a medic to help you. If running in gung-ho is your preference then you should have been enlisted as a Kamikaze pilot for WW2. Weapons and vehicles are plenty here with over 50 different variations of assault rifles, hand guns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers and stinger missiles all of them have varying degrees of weight, sound and recoil.

Sadly Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising doesn’t hit the mark in its offline components. Firstly, for a game that requires a steep learning curve, there is no tutorial mode. You are simply left with your instruction manual to give you reasonable guidance of learning how everything works. Secondly the command system that is used to order your infantry around the game is utterly horrid. The combination of D-Pad and analogue stick to make tactical selections are insanely frustrating which can end up sending all your men to their slaughter instead of forming tactical positioning for each individual. Even bringing up a map of the combat area isn’t enough as you are still required to use the same procedure to direct orders away from the combat. It’s such a shame this wasn’t thought out better as mapping the controls to your headset or simply being able to move men with a press of the A button (Rainbow Six Vegas) would have eliminated these problems. This isn’t nit picking, this mistake pretty much leaves the single player mode up for debate as to whether it’s worth investing any of your time in.

There are a few more niggles with the game, the checkpoint save system doesn’t cut your progress into pieces, this can cause problems such as loading the game in an unwinnable situation (there was one point in the second level where the game save loaded up with a helicopter gunship after us with 6-8 men behind our infantry pushing us towards the town and boxing us in from all areas, there was simply no way out from death)

So with the single player out of the way, the game can be enjoyable and thankfully you can play the campaign online if you can find others and despite some mundane objectives you do get the opportunity to drive tanks and helicopters to spice up the action in later levels, a relief!

Graphics & Audio – 9

Whether it’s eerie mid-morning fog, dusty towns or accurately rendered weaponry, Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising offers realism in droves. Don’t expect landscapes that excite, this game gives you an island that is believable in every essence and once again the EGO engine has delivered by offering a massive landscape rendered in real time and that is truly impressive, especially when you’re flying above it in a helicopter. It feels as impressive as when Avalanche Studios showed us the magnitude of the Just Cause world. There are lovely touches here that add to the immersion, such as ammo rounds kicking mud in your peripheral vision or seeing your own blood splatter across the screen when you are shot. Flashing green light of hot tracer fire are evident along with dust that kicks off the floor from bullet fire, you’ll find more and more attention to detail the more you play. Don’t get me wrong, this title isn’t graphically the most impressive around, but it certainly delivers more than enough to get soaked in the enthrallingly claustrophobic world of military combat.

The games audio is perhaps one of the best things about the title, everything sounds the way you expect it to no two guns sound the same. You can really appreciate just how painstakingly hard the technical team have worked in both their research and sampling to deliver the authenticity here. If the game lacks anything in this department it’s the menu music which has two different tracks, one of them being slightly tribal in scope and boy does it annoy the fuck out of you!

Fun Factor – 7

Whilst one shot kills can be annoying and the single player so frustrating that you’ll literally want to tear out your pubic hair, thankfully all of the fun is online strategising with your team mates about how to defend/attack objective points. This in itself can almost make the opening problems forgivable had the price been adjusted to reflect it, as a result it gets a 7. If and it’s a big IF you can find people to play the campaign mode with online, it will serve as a great distraction from the online play and if Codemasters follow up their promise of continual DLC support hopefully we’ll see new factions and more multiplayer modes to delve our war torn fingers into.

Online – 7.5

This is where the magic happens (no not where you have sex, you’ve been watching too many episodes of MTV cribs) when it comes to Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising being a rewarding and purchase worthy experience. You have two team based game modes Annihilation and Infiltration. In Annihilation it’s your standard team based death match, it basically consists of 4vs4 combat and though that sounds small in the scale of things, there are actually a plethora of NPC characters that are on each team, these can be controlled as support to your objectives. Infiltration is an objective based game mode whereby you either have to capture or defend a designated area. The defending team has a larger amount of players, whilst the attacking team has a smaller squad that have to use tactical ops to successfully capture a specific building.

You also get to play single player missions and the whole campaign in multiplayer which is a nice added touch, though whenever we searched the lobbies there were never any hosted matches available. If you do indeed get a game started in co-operative depending on how many people are in the lobby depends on how many NPC’s will be replaced by human AI, a much needed game mode given how cocked up the command system is.

Unfortunately the multiplayer doesn’t go without left wanting for more game modes and the re-spawning appears to be a little random at most, I found myself spawned into certain death or weirdly enough a river (that did make me chuckle) With this in mind, hopefully Codemasters will see the potential in their military simulator and support it regularly, especially as it has the potential of becoming a game widely endorsed by the pro gaming scene.

Overall Score 7.7/10

With a single player mode seemingly fucked by Red Rum and an online mode lacking in some options, there is no denying Operation Flashpoint 2 isn’t without its flaws, however the game is the most realistic shooter out on the console market and for that reason alone it’s definitely worth picking up if you want a true realistic war experience.

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Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
  • Mort Harries
    October 12, 2023
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    Excellent review. Really hope you keep it up and I am of the opinion that you will continue to do so. Its great to read people talk about something they obviously care about instead of the usual boring reads half the web seems to come up with.
    Hope to pick up Flashpoint soon!
    Also, will us readers be having the pleasure of experiencing you guys delve into the wonders of Borderlands upon its release?

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  • James Ireland
    October 13, 2023
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    Well hopefully, though finding out who exactly is doing the PR for this 2K game seems to be baffling people at the moment.

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