Game Review: Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (PS3)
Release: October 6, 2009
Genre: First Person Shooter/Tactical Shooter
Available Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Players: 1-8 players
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon rising is set during a fictional war in the year 2011. The game is set on the Island Skira, a fictionalized version of Kiska an island off the west cost of Alaska, however in the game Skira is located to the north of Japan. Russian and American companies have gained access to its hidden resources, some of the richest remaining oil reserves in the world. With domestic oil reserves depleting General Zheng orders a tactical lightning assault on Skira securing the island without resistance. Russia then joins forces with the American army and war breaks out.
You play the leader of an American squad helping out the Russians during the war. Your squad consists of 3 other members, each of these can be replaced by a friend in the online co-op mode. There are 12 long missions in the game all located on different parts of Skira, each mission consists of a main objective and then 1-4 secondary objectives, and you can go back to any mission from the main menu to re-do any of the objectives you may have missed. Twelve missions may not seem that many but trust me each mission will take some time especially on the hardest difficulty and due to the game’s open plan maps, each mission can be played a number of times without feeling identical. There is also a lot of variation in the missions themselves, which is nice to see, on one mission you may be storming a beach in an aggressive manner taking down any enemy you come across, then the next mission may see you crawling on the floor as slow as you can in order to sneak past groups of enemies so you can blow their equipment up without being seen. This helps the game to always stay fresh and constantly bring new experiences to the player.
The presentation of Codemaster’s games is always fantastic, and this is no exception the main menu is easy to navigate, the in-game squad command menu is simple yet gives the player a lot of choice but the best bit is the game’s opening. When you first start a new game you’ll be given a very brief history lesson explaining how all the previous wars led to the current war the game is based around, This was a very nice feature as it is well implemented into the game and it also gives you a heads up to why your fighting.
The most impressive aspect to this game is the size of the map. It is said that in order to walk from one end to the other it will take 9 hours in real time. However, the game restricts you to the surrounding area of each mission which is a shame as I would have liked to have gone exploring a bit more. This doesn’t mean that the area’s you are given are small, in fact that is far from the truth the spaces you are given are huge and it would take quite a while just to walk to the edge of the given area, this provides for a good experience and gives players the choice of how to tackle a mission each time they replay it. As well as a large map there is also a day and night cycle, you may start a mission in the sunlight and depending on how long it takes you you could be finishing during sunset or even in the pitch black. As well as the visual cycle there is also a sound element to the different times, as it gets darker and lighter you will hear different animals such as birds in the morning and crickets at night, this creates a fantastic atmosphere that is forever changing.
The game isn’t exactly beautiful, textures look quite blurry at times and the pop-in can be abysmal, sometimes there would be no texture at all on a rock and there was many times this almost put me off playing, animation can also be very stuff, some times during the game you’ll look out at what first appears to be a beautiful vista, until your realize the sea isn’t moving and distant trees aren’t swaying, this can hold the game back, but gun detail is fantastic and more than makes up for it. Every screw and line that you expect there to be on a gun in real life is there in the game, light reflects off scopes realistically and sound from bullet fire is some of the best out there, which is a huge plus and makes the player feel like they are in the game rather than controlling it from afar.
I should also mention how hard this game is due to its realism, one bullet can kill an enemy but the same goes for you exposing yourself from cover for a split second it could cost you time or even your life. If you get wounded you’ll have to find cover and apply field dressing to your wound so you don’t eventually bleed to death. Reloading guns can also take quite along time especially when it is a Javelin Rocket Launcher, if you expose yourself whilst reloading a gun the enemy can easily get a nasty headshot in. Of course these are all on the plus side if you’re a fan of realism. In fact there are quite a lot of technical problems that can make the game a lot harder, the main one being the AI specifically that of your squad, sometimes they’ll be great they’ll react fantastically to enemy fire and get cover but its more than often they will just stand in the open getting fired at or refuse to move when your trying to run past them for cover, these problems along with the infrequent checkpoints, (which also got on my nerves) can cost you a big chunk of the mission making you start from a checkpoint you reached half an hour ago.
Its not just the friendly AI that has problems, the enemy AI can also vary quite a lot from being extremely responsive one minute and then the next thing you know an enemy just stood there not doing anything and waiting to be shot in the head. Its little things like this that takes away from the games otherwise excellent experience.
Although I spent most of my time with this game working through the single player campaign I did get some time in with the multiplayer, especially the co-op which I had a lot of fun with, as I mentioned earlier each of the 3 other squad members can be replaced with a human player via online play, so as long as you all have headsets this can be a lot of fun, otherwise the experience is pretty much identical to that of the single player campaign. Versus mode is lacking, maps are a large and the weapons are great, however on the console versions of the game matches are limited to 7 V 7 with only 4 people on each team being controlled by a human and the other 3 being controlled by AI, this was a bad move on Codemaster’s part and I don’t really see why they did it, because on the PC version of the game players can participate in 16 V 16 matches with all 32 slots being open to a human player, its obvious that Codemasters spent most of their time making sure the game included a solid and fun solo or Co-op experience.
Jake’s Final Say: If you’re a fan of realistic tactical shooters and can look past some of the games many glitches, then this could be your game, however if your looking to buy this on PC you may be better off buying one of the many other realistic shooters out there. If the PS3 version is anything to go by, this is a fantastic game that unfortunately includes many glitches, holding the experience back quite a bit. Codemasters has already announced they will be releasing a patch to fix some of the problems, so if your looking to buy this game I recommend waiting until then, to make sure the experience you get is a great one.