Last Friday I headed into London after Codemasters invited Console Monster to check out two of their biggest titles that are due out at the end of the year. Personally I was quite excited, as Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising was one of the titles being showcased and it’s been on my game radar for a few months.
After a brief presentation of the game we got a short hands-on with the co-op. Sadly this was very limited for everyone as there were more people than units to play on, I did wriggle myself in and also watched a lot of people to get a general idea.
The market is already saturated with modern day FPS titles, so what makes OF:DR so special? Well, how about the 220 sq km of open terrain, that takes over 9 hours on foot to cross? Or maybe a real-time day and night cycle, as well as a weather system, and a large variety of vehicles that might tickle your fancy. Hailed as the biggest military toy box ever seen in a console FPS, Operation Flashpoint 2 certainly does offer something amazing for the more tactical gamer.
I never played the original Operation Flashpoint, and from the looks of a rather dedicated following still online today, I am quite envious. OP:DR is a sequel to the critically acclaimed PC title OF: Cold War Crisis, which was well received by media and its community. In fact the game provided such a rich and realistic military experience, it was later adapted for combat training for a number of defence forces under the name VBS1.
Visually, the game impresses, especially on the console where the map’s sheer size did not hinder gameplay performance. Character and weapon models are top notch and climbing up to a high area can even display the whole span of the island, which is some pretty impressive draw distance. Lighting in particular was spectacular, and a personal highlight was being shown some night-time footage, the whole mood turns blue and the atmosphere really changed.
The sniper rifle attached with a thermal scope at night just looked so real and I was honestly jealous watching the developer play as he checked out the surroundings with it equipped. The attention to detail was something that really got me, from your AI team whispering at night and shouting during heated battles, to reload times depending on the weapon you are using.
We had a demo of a night-time mission in hardcore mode from the developers. Hardcore mode is obviously the hardest difficulty in the game, but instead of notching up damage taken or given from enemy AI, it just removes the HUD. This means that simple indications about how much ammo you have left or the health of your squad is completely removed and you must keep yourself informed. Enemy locations spotted by your AI team mates will only be announced vocally, so it’s vital that you really concentrate and rely on your team wither its AI or human.
You can even play the game relying entirely on your AI team and not even engaging the enemy yourself. Bringing up a menu allows you to choose from a whole range of plays, such as flanking the enemy, storming a building or even moving around in a ‘vee’ formation. Opening the map and selecting located enemy targets allows you to concentrate fire onto particular groups of enemies, making sure you are in control at all times.
Unlike Call of Duty, or even Rainbow Six, OP:DR requires such a high degree of team work that I have never really experience before. Sure clan gamers could argue that tactics play a vital role in their play for those titles, but the single player doesn’t really require you to think or even care about your squad, watching them drop like helpless flies. This means the up to four player online co-op in OP:DR should be played with friends who are willing to dedicate time to some slow-paced and arduous missions; this is one title that is going to frustrate the hell out of you but feel so rewarding when the work is done.
It’s a shame our team of distracted journalists couldn’t hold a squad together, which really proves how difficult it is without the right concentration, or even leadership. It was a shame us jurnos couldn’t hold it together, as I was looking forward to trying out the many modes of transport in the game.
It was brief but I really enjoyed my time with Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising. If you are looking for a slow paced, rewarding and hardcore FPS experience then take notice. This game, to be released 9th of October, is certainly one that will hold a dedicated following, and hopefully impress the already interested crowd.