Modern games have a reputation of being easy compared to the classic games of our youth. No longer is the question 'have you competed it?' it is now 'how long did it take?'. In the genre of current generation first person shooters we feel satisfied if a games main campaign takes 5-6 hours and we get the usual multi-player shenanigans. Now this game is a little different, its sheer difficulty level gives it longevity of a type not seen in most FPS games.
Now Codemasters Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (from here on referred to as OF:DR) Is billed as a tactical shooter along the lines of Ubisofts Tom Clancy games like Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six. Set on the fictional Russian owned island of Skira (somewhere in the hotly contested Kuril island chain) you are play as various members of a US Marine Expeditionary Force sent to retake the island from Chinese forces to try and prevent a war between the Russians and the Chinese. Mission objectives range from taking out radar sites, rescuing POW's, sabotaging fuel depots and attacking airfields. All done with a nice touch of realism.
By realism I mean you die a lot!
Think Halo 3's Legendary or Modern Warfares Veteran and add extra frustration. The number of times you will be scooting through some bushes just to have your head taken off by some sniper you didn't see 400 meters away will make you scream ( and this is on normal difficulty!).
On top of that the friendly AI leaves a lot to be desired (as does the rotary menu system used to control them) leaving you struggling to control your squad of four in the middle of fire fights. The AI's reaction to incoming fire leaves a little be desired also.
The game also occasionally disappoints in the realism factor it seems to try so hard to convey. You as a lowly marine can fly helicopters and drive APC's and tanks. You are also expected to loot enemy forces to access the weapons needed to complete missions ( I thought this was the USMC not the British Army!). In a game trying to be realistic ( to the point that you can not select your weapon load out at the beginning of a mission, taking only what uncle Sam sees fit to give you ) you would think that these other game play over realism factors would have been stamped out too.
Despite these flaws I really enjoy OF:DR. When it works properly it gives an immense sense of satisfaction. Missions need you to use tactics and plan your moves in advance otherwise you will quickly end up in a bloody mess on the floor. This process however is the most enjoyable aspect of the game. In one mission for example you are behind enemy lines tasked with calling in an air strike on a radio station while also tracking an enemy officer. Do it right and you end up calling in the air strike as he enters the base and you then have to exit the area while the rest of the Chinese forces start looking for you, You then end up in a tense yomp across enemy territory, dodging enemy patrols and avoiding ambushes. Needles to say this mission was one of the most tense 45 minute I have had on my 360 and by the end of it, despite having been caught in an ambush I had expended all of 8 rounds of ammunition.
The most realistic FPS you will find on a console.
Well constructed missions.
Nice Graphics and effects.
Great sense of achievement when missions are completed
Poor friendly (and enemy) AI at times
user unfriendly command interface.
illogical balances between realism and game play at times
I hope Operation Flashpoint becomes a console franchise. It would be nice to see how Codemasters could iron out the problems with this release and produce a fantastic tactical shooter.