GC 2008: Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising Impressions
Written Wednesday, September 24, 2008 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is the follow up to the hugely successful PC original which is still in active use today, 7 years after its original launch. The Xbox port may not have done the game any justice but Codemasters are looking to rectify that this time.
Billed as a tactical shooter and battlefield simulator, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is all about realism. The game makes use of Codemaster’s very own in-house engine, Ego which has been used in many of their recent successful racing titles, Grid being one.
The game itself takes place on Skira island which is just north of Japan and since World War II the island has been Russian territory. Underneath the island is one of the world’s biggest untapped oil sources so the island does actually have a history plagued by tension and conflict which is the backdrop to the story. The island is 134 square miles and Codemasters have worked hard to create a perfect gameplay environment with the whole denser content aspect. Whereas in the original you may have felt a little vulnerable out in the open, in Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, the terrain is a lot more detailed based on satellite data and so there are pockets in the ground that can work to your advantage or even against you.
The whole aspect of realism is taken to another level with the island at large as the game not only boasts fully destructible environments but also persistent level damage. So if you airstrike a bridge on the first mission, don’t expect it to magically appear later when you need to cross the river. In addition to that, the game also features a full day/night cycle with an accompanying weather system that I must say looks pretty impressive and even as the clouds move, the shadows are cast on the terrain. The island just seems so alive... Especially with a 35km view distance!
The focus from Codemasters is on the attention to detail and to make the experience ultra realistic; one of the methods they used to capture this was character models. Just from looking at a character, you should be able to determine who that person is, whether it be your sniper, your explosives expert, whatever and the same goes for opposition soldiers by looking at what they are carrying. Even better, is that the soldiers animation’s are motion captured to suit, everything from walking, shooting to even setting up your Javelin is entirely realistic. The guns and weapons in Operation Flashpoint are meant to be realistic in look, scope and even how they are setup and loaded... Remember that the guns aren’t “magic wands with bullets”. The focus is entirely on realism.
The tactical side is very much present in the sequel and it’s one of the fundamentals of the series. Codemasters want the player’s decisions to work on two levels, on the one hand they will be making micro tactical decisions like, who do I shoot now, if I shoot their officer, can I disorganise the opposing infantry? Then on the other hand, you’ll be making macro level tactical decisions like laying up complex plans and a map system to organise an attack on a town. It’s all about making decisions to fit the situation.
Going back to the whole attention to detail aspect, it’s worth mentioning that the weapons and the vehicles in the title are incredibly realistic and based on their real life counterparts. There are about 70 infantry weapons and you can expect to find all the arsenal which an army would take to war with them. The game also boasts about 50 different vehicles that can apply their trade in the air, sea or ground and all the vehicles have realistic and genuine moving parts which adds to the whole immersion of the experience.
Codemasters’ aim was to take the original, well received PC title and add more units, denser content, smarter AI, bigger environment and a lot more effects and they look to be well on the way to accomplishing that. There are few, if any, real life, tactical, battlefield simulators out there, none with this sort of detail anyway and Codemasters are really pushing that as one of their selling point. They are also billing Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising as this “audio visual experience” where you can not only feel immersed in the action gameplay wise but the sounds and visuals give you a sense of being there actually on the battlefield.
Obviously this won’t appeal to everyone because some people don’t like to be killed with one bullet, but for those looking for an immersive and accurate representation of conflict, this could be right up your alley.
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is shipping on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC sometime in 2009.