Contact. – Support Gunner – 300 Metres – South West
First Person Shooters aren’t normally known for their realism, running and gunning your way through a village like John Rambo is hardly realistic. So, when Codemasters announced a follow up to their 2001 smash hit – Operation Flashpoint, the gaming hordes sat up and prepared for one of the most realistic shooters to ever grace our high-definition televisions. Can Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising capture the brutality of war?, We lock and load and prepare to embark in this as close to war as you’ll want to get simulator.
OFP:DR takes place across 11 missions, set on the Island of Skira off the coast of Japan. Your enemy? The Chinese People’s Liberation Army who have invaded and captured the island for its newly found Oil Reserves. As realistic as all that sounds that’s about as far as the storyline goes; there are hardly any Cut-Scenes in the game, and details on your mission are sent in by highly classified readable text, which more often than not you don’t really engage in reading. Each mission can take anything from up to 30minutes to an hour to complete, although playing through on hardcore mode can take even longer, as we will touch on in just a moment.
OFP:DR prides itself on giving the gamer an experience as close to real life combat as possible, so the difficulties remain the same for everyone. You can change the difficulty mode to restrict your HUD (Heads-Up-Display), this takes away enemy contact locations, objective signals and ammo count. You and your team will have to communicate at a high level to achieve your objectives and with no re-spawns it’s a game of life and death. Hardcore mode isn’t advised for a first play through, but once completed on Normal, it’s like playing a whole new game with a whole new enemy. Tactics and Teamwork are paramount.
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is all about choices that you the gamer will have to make, some may cost you or your squad-mates their life's, others may save their life’s from certain death, that is the responsibility you take on when you purchase OFP.
You’re surrounded, cut off from supplies, in a foreign and unforgiving land, a village lies 600 Metres to the North East, populated by enemy APC (Anti Personal Carriers), a unit of men lay waiting in the distance, hidden by foliage, and enemy Gunships patrol from the skies above. What do you do? OFP is a game of tactics, you can flank the village, take out the guards patrolling quickly and silently leave the village or bring down the rain with your only Artillery Strike blowing everything and everyone up in its devastating and explosive rounds, sending men and machine 50ft in the air; all your choices have consequences, which you’ll have to find out for yourselves.
All Daggers this is Dagger One, All Units Deployed, Stand by for Smoke, Danger Close...Out!
The Friendly Artificial Intelligence in Operation Flashpoint can only be described as horrid. Friendlies constantly disobey your orders, send them to flank an enemy village and they’ll take the enemy head on, ultimately leading them to their demise and leaving you down a creek without a paddle, or they’ll run in front of your fire when suppressing a heavy machine gunner, or....Well the list is endless.
While the Friendly A.I is shocking, the Enemy is that of a real human, Enemies will try and flank your position once they’ve made contact, set traps such as leaving you in the middle of a field, begging for a medic to come save you, only for you and your medic to be killed. Enemy troops also will lose or gain morale depending on what they are faced with, you can hear the screams and whimpers of enemies once you’ve destroyed their whole village and beg for mercy, which of course you don’t show. All these little things add up to bring you the ultimate war experience.
Luckily for us, Codemasters have included up to 3 player co-op to take the fight to your foes with your friends via Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE Service. This is well implemented and no doubt is the most fun I’ve had with my friends in a very long time.
The Intense combat that is shown during a fire-fight is something I’ve yet to experience on a console, although Modern Warfare came close, it didn’t really make you feel like it’s now or never, that your life could end with a well placed bullet. I believe that is thanks to the visual presentation and sound effects that Codemasters have obviously spent a lot of time working on.
Tracers fly and crack above your head; going prone during a fire fight will fly specs of dirt in to your eyes and firing rifles and anti-tank missiles really have the weight and feel of a Hollywood action movie.
The sound is fantastic, right from the outset you’ll hear helicopters flying in from 700 Metres away, bringing terror to your doorstep, or the crackle of a tank hidden in the trees parting with its Rounds, sending all sorts of debris your way. Whatever is happening in the world, Codemasters have done a wonderful job of making your environment come to life with impressive visuals and sound effects to keep you fully absorbed in the world around you.
All right, Dagger One wants us to keep any Anti-Tank Teams off our AAVPs until we clear the beach, this is gonna get pretty Intense!
You’ll be able to choose from different Fire Teams each time the mission starts. For example, Dragon Fury (Mission 11) will allow your friends to choose from SF Rifleman x2, SF Medic the ‘host’ is always the Team Leader.
Each position will give you different weapons and abilities, for example (like it needed explaining), a Medic will be able to heal you with an injection of morphine to keep you fitting fit, an Anti-Tank Specialist will spawn with a Javelin Anti-Tank Missile, while the Squad Leader will have the ability to drop Artillery on a village or call in an Air-Strike on unsuspecting Tanks. You’ll have to work together as a close knit team to secure objectives, and to make sure that you all come home alive making this one of the best tactical experiences on the market so far.
Making it home alive isn’t as easy as it sounds. The Island of Skira is 220 Square Kilometres, you could run from one side of the Island to the other in one sitting, but it will take 9 hours 30minutes to do so, and that is without encountering any rouge squads of enemies. If that isn’t your cup of tea, why not jump in a Humvee, this will take roughly 4 hours to cross the Island, but, my personal favourite is the Helicopter, with a flight time of 20minutes, hardly time for an on-flight movie.
While the game does boost a high amount of driveable vehicles, you hardly ever use them as one well placed AT (Anti Tank) gunner or enemy tank can dismember you’re whole squad, meaning you’ll need to start the whole mission from the start. (Trust me, just walk)
The online game modes are exciting and really create a feeling of all out war, although getting access to online game modes can be almost as difficult as playing through the game on Hardcore, as it’s almost impossible to find your friends in a Ranked Match. At the time of writing this, Codemasters have announced that there will be a patch to address this situation, so expect a full online review soon.
For all you Achievement lovers out there, like myself, you’ll be happy to know that to obtain the full 1,000 is pretty straight forward and mostly comes from around two playthroughs of the game. Most achievements range from getting 100 kills, to flying a helicopter around an island - simples.
In closing, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is an intense, realistic, first person shooter that will bring gamers as close to war as they’ll ever want to experience. It’s been an Eight year wait for Dragon Rising, but man was it worth it.
Sabre One, This is Sabre Two, Operation Complete.