Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising Review

Not too long ago I talked about two wargames that will be released soon that really had me excited: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. They're the bigwigs in the war genre right now, but I often forget that there are lesser known but just as dedicated war games out there with their own unique take on the genre. Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is the unofficial sequel to Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis that was released back in 2001. It is known for its intense difficulty and committment to war realism. I played Operation Flashpoint: CWC a long time ago and was giddy to find that headshots were automatic kills, something the other, more popular war games don't actually do. I respect Kotaku's review system, instead of giving it an arbitrary number, they break it down into things they liked and things they hated. Check it out a portion of that review:
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Damage System: Getting shot in Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising can have a lasting impact on how you play the missions. Besides headshots killing you instantly, you can get tagged in the legs, the chest, the arms, the head. Injuries show up on a little version of your character on the screen, if you don't fix yourself up fast (or have a medic do it) you'll eventually bleed out. And even when you do patch yourself up you still won't be able to run sometimes. The end result? More cautious gameplay, more thinking before you move. Perfect for this type of game.

Difficulty: Played on the average setting, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is a brutal, unforgiving experience. If you don't pace yourself, using tactics and squad commands, you're going to be shot down in seconds. And those one-shot kills you land can happen to you too, so don't stand in one place for too long.

Realism: From the whine of bullets and full body damage modeling to the relatively open map, which allows for just about any sort of approach you want in a map, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising plays more like a training exercise than it does a run-in-gun shooter.


Save System: Managing and creating save points in a game can be an art. Too many and players will just trudge through the game, regardless of loss of life, knowing that they can respawn feet from where they dropped. Too few and you have Dragon Rising, which has you play for 30 to 40 minutes, cross vast tracks of terrain, take out multiple units and then die only to do it all over again. The save points improve as you near the end of the game, but the beginning is brutal and unnecessary.

Line of Sight: When a single shot can kill you instantly and save points are stretched between unforgiving distances of objectives and terrain, having a game that can't render an enemy on the horizon doesn't just look bad, it guts the action. In almost every map I played there were enemies who phased in and out of existence as they wavered on the edge of what the game could handle showing me, making sniping a near impossibility.

Brain-Damaged Friendlies: Your squad mates can be life-savers, helping you flank enemies or patching you up after you've taken a shot to the chest. But man can they be stupid. It's shocking how many times my men came to patch me up and then just stood over me with a med kit in hand, watching me die, or refused to mount a vehicle, or walked directly in front of me while I was shooting. Or the one time I had to restart a section of a mission because my squad had commandeered a jeep, drove to the other side of the map with it and then refused to join me at the extraction point. In a game so reliant on squad, this level of artificial intelligence problems is unacceptable.

Sounds good, but doesn't seem to pull off a lot of the things that made the original so noteworthy. Oh well, Modern Warfare 2 is next month! Whooo!

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