Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
- October 6, 2009 (NA)
- October 8, 2009 (EU)
- October 9, 2009 (UK)
- October 15, 2009 (AUS)
This review is brought to you by its respective author and does not represent the thoughts and/or views of GameLuster as a whole.
Alright, I’d like to make this little something clear right out of the gate: This is NOT Operation Flashpoint 2. It should not be considered a follow-up to Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis. For that, one should go play the ArmA series. This is outright a more serious (in that there’s less ‘action film’ kind of situations), yet less realistic military shooter that bears the Operation Flashpoint name and has literally no connection whatsoever to the 2001 game aside from the moniker. A lot of people, it seems, have negative feelings on this game because it’s not a true sequel to Bohemia Interactive’s title. That, frankly, bothers the hell out of me. This game came a full eight years after the original game and two years after the success of Bohemia’s OpFlash follow-up, ArmA: Armed Assault. This game is its own game with its own merits. The OpFlash name is simply a way to attract more attention and, thus, more money. I’m not here to argue whether or not they should’ve given the game its own name, though. I’m just going to talk about the game in itself and its own qualities.
Now with the rant out of the way, I can actually mention the game’s story… Actually, I wish I didn’t… because it’s nearly nonexistent. The game explains that the fictional island of Skira, which has tons of oil, was taken by the Chinese from the Russians after the global economic crisis causes immense amounts of strife for the Chinese people. The Russians are already fighting the Chinese elsewhere and so they ‘ask’ (read: command) the Americans to take the island back because, you know, those troublesome Cold War treaties say that we have to or something. And that’s more or less it. It says that in the beginning of the game and the rest of the game is, “FIGHT THEM THAR COMMIE CHINKS AND SHOW ‘EM ‘MURICA’S MIGHT!” I mean, it’s obviously just background for the actual gameplay, but something a bit more compelling would’ve been nice. We’re not even taking the oil-rich island for the sake of the US (a bit too controversial, I assume?), but for the Russians.
I’d just like to point out that this wouldn’t be a thing in real-life though, considering how buddy-buddy the Russians and Chinese are these days and how much of a dick Putin is. And, yes, I realize I’m picking apart the story to a tactical shooter. I just don’t care that it’s a stupid thing to do. The point is, the story is just… pants. The silly part is when you beat the game. It gives you something like a 30 second-long cutscene that might as well have said, “Yeah, you kicked their asses! Because this is AMERICA. HOO-AH,” and it wouldn’t have made a lick of difference. The thing that actually matters, though, is the gameplay. This is where the game gets kind of tricky. This isn’t a full of military simulation like Bohemia Interactive’s efforts are. However, it does have a certain focus on realism in terms of gunplay with rather accurate systems of bullet drop and spread and also in objectives, which are generally simple because you are, after all, a four-man fireteam and not action stars. These objectives, actually, really make you feel as though you are part of an actual military operation, never asking anything of you that wouldn’t be possible for an actual fireteam in real life. The game certainly clings to its war-like atmosphere and does an excellent job of it. The mechanics complement it well, especially considering how easily you can die. A single shot to your head will kill you, for instance. Being shot in leg can prevent you from sprinting. A shot to the arm will make your arm less stable. Thankfully, the game isn’t horrible about this and any injuries you’ve sustained will be healed (and your squadmates revived, if they took an especially lethal dose of lead in the mouth) when you get to the next mission checkpoint. That means that you won’t be left without the ability to sprint across the sprawling levels for a whole mission if you get popped a few minutes in.
The sprawling levels, I feel, are what’s going to be a problem for a lot of people. There’s not usually a vehicle to get you where you want to go especially quickly, so you do quite a good bit of running in the game. I actually don’t mind that, because the battles you arrive at are satisfying and lost long enough for me to feel as though it’s worth the sprint over to it and its worth keeping the atmosphere up. You can command your mates, thankfully, with what is a rather intuitive (but not perfect) command wheel. I’d like to complain that the default ‘Move’ command makes your team move carefully, not quickly. Being able to switch that out for the ‘Move Fast’ command simply to cut down on time going through the motions (even if it still doesn’t take long) would’ve been nice. The AI companions are generally quite smart and carry out your commands nicely. The enemy AI poses a challenge, but isn’t unfair in terms of their skill. The game’s difficulty is quite nicely balanced, with the last mission being the only one that frustrated me. The enemy armor I was supposed to destroy in that mission would sometimes pay attention to me, allowing me to destroy them, but then I’d die due to a shot from enemy infantry. The next time I arrived to take out the armor, it’d shoot me instantly. I died seven times on this part of the mission alone.** The game looks… decent. It looks intentionally muddy to make spotting enemies a bit more difficult, but the game’s textures vary from average to ugly. However, there are some nice vistas to enjoy as you run about the landscape, which makes going around the levels on foot pleasing at times. The smoke effects in particular look quite nice. The draw distance for grass could’ve been increased a bit, but the overall draw distance is impressive at 35 km. The object render distance was a clever 1.6 km, which works perfectly fine for the game. The game sounds good, too. Weapons sound nice and realistic, vehicles sound appropriate, and voice acting is decent. What’s impressive is how you and your team call out enemies and state commands. These actually sound as realistic as you’re going to get, especially after hearing how these systems work in ArmA, which sounds incredibly robotic. Nothing stands out as remarkable in terms of presentation, and that’s fine. It does exactly what it needs to do, and conveys information without looking or sounding poor.
Oh, and I’d like to comment on multiplayer. But I can’t. Because Codemasters already shut down the official servers for the game. It is possible to get a game going using LAN and something like Tuungle, which I used to get a buddy playing co-op with me. Player versus player is a lost cause unless you have a bunch of friends with the game, though. If you do have a friend, I recommend playing the campaign co-op for a bit of a fun time. The campaign can be completed under 5 hours if you don’t die. According to the game’s stats, which track game time on your successful runs instead of in total (meaning it doesn’t clock in the time spent when you ended up dying), I completed the game in 4 hours, 47 minutes, and 20 seconds. Including the time I spent with the less successful runs, it’d be around 6 hours, 45 minutes. Is there replay value? Uh… no. No, there’s not. I mean, I’ll likely replay it because I just enjoy the game a lot, but that doesn’t count. What does count is the editor you get on PC to make your own missions. Yup. If you think that the editor is going to push the game’s replayability score up dramatically… you’d be right. You can also download the missions created if you don’t wish to create one yourself. And people wonder why I like PC gaming so much… I should say that I do actually recommend the game at its current $15 price point, but only for those wanting a uniquely realistic shooter that doesn’t go full-blown simulation. Installing Tuungle and having a buddy or three to play co-op with is also wholly recommended to get the most out of the game. For those looking for something fast-paced or, indeed, even more slower-paced, look elsewhere. **As I pulled out the ‘Queen Bee’, ready to send a missile into some enemy armor, an ally stepped in front of me, hilariously (and frustratingly, considering how many times I had to redo this part) blowing us both into huge, gory chunks. Oh, and a helicopter fell on me one time. That was the most perfect moment of my life.**
–This game was reviewed on the PC platform. The console versions of this game are not recommended for their drastically lesser quality.–