Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising

Dragon Rising takes place on the Russian occupied fictional island of Skira

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Codemasters Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
  • Codemasters Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
  • Codemasters Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
  • Codemasters Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising

Pros

  • Rich tactical experience, looks gorgeous

Cons

  • AI can act quirky at times, sometimes unforgivingly hard

Bottom Line

It's not going to be the most talked about military game on the shelves this holiday season, but Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising offers players a rewarding (if flawed) and realistic military experience that is sure to keep gamers busy for quite some time.

Would you buy this?

There's a stigma in the gaming industry that a realistic simulation game has to be boring. Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is here to challenge that notion. What it lacks in high intensity run and gun Call of Duty style gameplay, it makes up for in its tense, cinematic and fun experiences. If you've got the patience to approach the game's 11 missions as the developers intended - you'll find much to like here, but if you'd rather shoot first and ask questions later, you're in for one frustrating bug filled experience.

Dragon Rising takes place on the Russian occupied fictional island of Skira. After a previously hidden gas and oil line is discovered on the island, a battle between the Russians and the Chinese sends Skira into turmoil, and it isn't long before the Russians make a call to their allies located over in the States for backup. From here you can guess your chore (hint: it's "save the day") and embark on one of the most rewarding shooting experiences you'll play in quite some time.

Be warned - Dragon Rising is not an easy game - nor is it a short one. Each of the game's 11 missions will require you to complete multiple objectives, each of which can easily take more than 45 minutes to finish. Luckily, these missions are quite varied and you never get the feeling that you're doing the same thing over and over. One mission you'll be escorting an armored vehicle and the next you'll be providing cover fire for an allied unit. The key here is that you'll have to stop and think of just how you're going to approach a situation. If you go in half-cocked and ready to just shoot anything that moves - you're going to die... a lot. Most battles take place from a distance and you'll have to plot out your next move carefully if you want to win. It may not follow the most popular formula, but when you finish a section, it's incredibly rewarding.

However, if you don't finish a section it means starting over, and oddly enough, it's here where you can see some of the game's true beauty. Don't expect the situation to play out the same way. The game uses unscripted events and you won't be able to change what you did wrong in the last attempt and expect to survive. Interestingly, when you turn up the game's difficulty setting, your enemies won't get tougher - rather, the game strips away elements of your on screen HUD such as your squad mate's health and your map. Taking away these elements make the game feel much more realistic and you'll have to employ an even higher level of strategy. At the same time, the risk for frustration gets higher as one stray bullet can be the difference between completing a section and having to start over completely.

Like many squad based games, you'll move in the battlefield by issuing commands and movement orders to your team. When they listen, they're quite useful, but at times you'll get so frustrated with the moments when your allies will have sudden brain farts and lose all want to live. They'll walk in front of your gun, step out from cover right into a bullets trajectory or take cover on the wrong side of the wall. When the system works it works well, but it can be so incredibly frustrating when it doesn't, especially when you take into account that your survival is so closely tied to theirs. Luckily, you can recruit up to three other players through local or Xbox Live Play and you'll avoid most of these pitfalls.

On that same note, the AI of enemy soldiers is quite impressive. Unlike most games, you'll actually feel like your enemies are a legit threat. They'll move into formation, take cover, provide suppressive fire and more importantly try to take you out from a realistic standpoint. It's not like these enemies are completely immune to the game's shoddy mechanics; you'll find soldiers stuck in walls or taking cover on the wrong side of the walls. It's these moments that take you out of the exceptional experience the game provides.

It's not going to be the most talked about military game on the shelves this holiday season, but Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising offers players a rewarding (if flawed) and realistic military experience that is sure to keep gamers busy for quite some time. At times it's frustrating and you'll die more than you'll succeed, but when you actually do accomplish a mission, it's all worth it.

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