Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
A night time dropping in hostile territory with your squad of four, a compass, a small arsenal of weapons and a good survival instinct, the necessary ingredients to survive this mission. You start with the long walk towards the target with in the back of your mind focus on not getting spotted by hostile troops that are patrolling the area. After a couple of hours walking you get to see the enemy base. You order your team to take position and wait for the sign of Delta who takes the flank. Hours pass but radio silence remains. Suddenly you hear a branch break. Before you can turn your head you hear four shots… there you are, laying in the dirt while your body is getting colder and bleeding empty. With a last thought that war is hell, the lights go out.
Operation Flashpoint was the first game that chose the simulation way. This shows mostly in slowly changing weapons, bullets that are less powerful in long distance, but also a lot more deadly than we’re used in modern day games. The only aspect that isn’t based on current warfare is the story, eventhough some situations are borrowed from current political events.
All problems start with the fictional Eastern island Skira, with a wide history of political turmoil spread over more than one hundred years. Due to the economic crisis China goes into a strong downward spiral due to export of consumer good completely shutting down. Therefore the People Liberation Army of China focuses on the rich oild fields of Skira which are at that time in the hands of our red friends, the Russians. The situation, however, is a bit much for them and they ask help from the well-known “US of A” to solve the conflict. Of course America won’t say no against a war for oil.
The biggest difference that immediately gets noticed while playing Dragon Rising are the wide surroundings compared to other games that usually have linear and fixed routes. The environments are a breath of fresh air but they do bring down the pace as you often get the feeling you’re doing little more than running around. Especially when the player choses for a challenge on a higher difficulty degree and therefore has to do without waypoints.
Although experiencing a simulation is the most important aspect for the player, this doesn’t seem to apply for your opponents. Some AI bugs make that they take strange decisions. During an attack on a base near the shore all opponents suddenly decided to run into the sea. Another weird choice is to lay down at times when you’re near. This brain-infection disease is at least contageous as also your teammates don’t always seem to understand your commands. Often the action therefore results in fiascos where you need to do everything yourself. A bummer for the gameplay which results in you often choosing a long distance solution with your good friend, the sniper rifle.
What does eliviate the feeling of realism are the weapons, how they look, the way they work and the sound they make. The difference between a long distance rifle and an attack rifle feels perfect, the alternative firing modes like single-shot, burst and fully automatic give the players plenty of choices that go along with their tactics and possibilities to make Swiss cheese from the opponents.
Graphically the game looks a bit old, with repetitive textures and a lot of soldiers that think incest is a daily task. The game also is plagued with tons of bugs including heavily shaking bodies or bodies disappearing into nothing. Handy if you’ve just gone through your last round and can use the ammo. Another painpoint are the controls of the vehicles and how your team mate AI handles that. Very sad when you realise the game is built on the same engine as GRiD and DiRT.
People who’ve finished the six to eight hour lasting campaign can get going with the multiplayer possibilities that the game offers including a pleasant co-op that allows to relive the campaign with up to three friends who are smarter than the AI. The other options are the well-known deathmatch or conquering the opponents’ base. On Xbox LIVE or PSN the maximum amount of players is 4vs4 which is extremely little compared to 16vs16 on PC.
Those that can look around the shortcomings will discover a shooter that’s definitely not too bad. It’s unfortunate that the mountains of realism that was promised is almost completely killed off by the retarded AI. Those that want to check out this game would do best to get the PC Version due to better multiplayer and easier way of giving commands to the rest of your team.