Review: Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising

It has been almost 5 years since the last Operation Flashpoint game was released, but luckily for us, Codemasters have taken up the challenge and delivered us a brand new edition to the series, known as Dragon Rising. Standing in the shadow of the enormous hype generated by Infinity Wards, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and Electronic Arts upcoming Battlefield: Bad Company 2, we explore if Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising stands a chance in this war of super powers.

First point to clarify, is that Dragon Rising is not like the prior mentioned games, a bit of a black sheep in the family, it decided to stray off the path into its own category. As all the prequels were,
Dragon Rising is known as a tactical simulator shooter, but unfortunately being released on October the 6th, just before Modern Warfare 2, it will be put in the same cage match regardless of game type.

Being a military tactical shooter means that realism becomes a strong factor, one shot can kill you, losing your head from several football field lengths is possible, and turning up the difficulty setting will remove luxuries such as checkpoints, HUD (Heads Up Display) and cross hairs; which may already make some gamers turn away – the game definitely is not for the beginner. Although the game does provide several difficulty levels, even the easiest difficulty can have you replaying a mission several times. This is due to weapons damage and AI of enemies remaining the same throughout the difficulty ranges; only player aids, such as HUD, are removed in the more difficult categories.

An interesting point to the game is the story. Even though it is fictional, it is not so unlikely. With China becoming a booming industrious country, its requirements for oil grows exponentially. And with the current oil shortage our world faces, the oil shortage does not help the situation; you could say it puts fuel to the fire, or maybe you couldn’t say that? Anyway, oil has become the most sort after commodity with a large well found on a fictional island called, Skira. The conflict starts when China lays claim to this island, when in-fact it was initially Russian soil due to some technicality in history. A stand off ensues and the US are called to intervene. The situation turns to boiling point when an uprising occurs in China and they are left without a governing body, and the next event sees China invading Skira.

As with previous releases of Operation Flashpoint, you will play in an open world environment as different arms of the military. Some missions are carried in dark
ness using Spec-Ops soldiers, fully equipped to carry out stealth operations. Their arsenal includes military technology such as, night vision, thermal scopes and silenced weapons. Whereas other missions will have you leading a company of Marines using brute force to advance your way to designations. No suppression needed here as you tear up the country side with loud machine guns, explosives and artillery support, all fully at your disposal.

The maps are definitely spacious and allow you to play your own style. You can decide to roam which ever direction you wish to ultimately achieve success in your mission. As discussed in Gameolios Podcast: Episode 1, the spacious environments are quite reminiscent of the original Ghost Recons and force the player to be on high alert at all times. The visuals are also very neat considering the large scale maps. Some aspects have been done exceptionally well, for example sitting back and watching an artillery strike hitting your designated target, with thick pillowing smoke looking amazing, and as you travel further away from your ground zero target you can still see the smoke smouldering in the distance which makes for a great affect.

The single player campaign has a fair playability, allowing the player to do bonus side missions as well as the main mission. There is also replay value, if you decide to approach the missions with a fresh new tactic or path. On average, the player can expect about a week or less to finish the single player campaign. The single player campaign also offers co-op allowing you and 3 friends to tackle the missions, in similar fashion to the Ghost Recon series.

It is unfortunate to mention the flaws as I do believe this game is quite good and deserves better, but there are just too many flaws to let it go unnoticed, and some of these flaws will cause real frustrations. One of the first annoyances is equipping your squad with gear; this is non existent. The player is provided with a screen to view all squad members and the gear they have been equipped with, but no alterations can be made. This becomes a further annoyance in co-op when one rifleman squad member receives a thermal scope and the other rifleman receive no scope at all. I guess the recession has hit everyone including budget cuts in the military.

The next major flaw is bugs – the game has a serious infestation of them, and with no save points in the large missions, bugs cause the mission to fail half the time. These include squad members climbing over a small wall and suddenly breaking both their legs (possibly budget cuts saw milk taken off the cafeteria breakfast menu). Another bug is salvaging equipment from a dead enemy, quite often becoming stuck on the screen to retrieve the items. Your medic can be utterly useless when giving commands to heal players, with him occasionally deciding to wander off in another direction, and in a worst case scenario, drawing a near by enemy platoon to your location.

One of the most constant frustrations is AI; commanding your squad in a line formation somehow can still lead to one of your soldiers deciding to walk right in front of your line of fire. The ultimate frustration is when you manage to set off a chain of bugs – climb a wall and break your legs, so you decide to call for the medic who runs off to bring enemies to finish you off. As you attempt to fight the enemies your medic dragged over, another of your squad members makes the decision to take the easy way out, and suicides in front of your line of fire. You would not believe how likely this scenario can be in-game.

There is not much to say about the music in this game. As all its predecessors, there is no in-game music, but only the subtle sounds of trees moving in the wind. Gunshots and explosions are delivered like thunder, and shots fired from a distance have a distinct realistic sound. What’s more, the whistle and snap sounds can help you determine if you are being shot at or bullets are just whizzing past close-by. One annoyance was the strange choice of intro music, but this may very well be more of a personal opinion.

In saying all that, the game is still great and we should see patches out to rectify most of the bugs. Definitely one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game is getting three friends together and making your way through the co-op mode. We should hopefully also see some expansions out in the near future, delivering us more missions. But for now, if you have grown tired of
Call of Duty: Modern Ware 2 and need a filler till Bad Company 2, then give Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising ago.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

About the Author

Nightshadow is an avid PC gamer, but occasionally strays off to the Xbox360 for some console action. Frequent writer for Gameolio - he has a strange obsession for uniquely flavored soft drinks such as Cherry Coke, Passion Fruit, and Buzz Monkey. Currently Playing: - Mafia II - Age of Conan - Red Dead Redemption