The Closest You'd Ever Want To Be to the Battlefield.
The games in the Operation Flashpoint series have always stressed realistic battle scenarios. With humble beginnings dating back to the Windows 98 days, Operation Flashpoint has been no stranger to those wishing to play a tactics-based modern warfare video game, and OP: Dragon Rising does not falter from that position.
Set on the fictional island of Skira, a locale mimicking the real life Aleutian island of Kiska, the player is put in the boots of multiple leaders of fireteams that fight their way through an ongoing battle for the island's rich oil reserves. The player is tasked with undertaking missions that range from covertly raiding fuel supplies, rescuing soldiers behind enemy lines and leading assaults into the heart of the enemy's strongholds.
It's pretty obvious what you're supposed to do right from the get go, however the lack of a sufficient tutorial might leave most players inexperienced with Operation Flashpoint's modus operandi a bit confused. Unlike games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising puts you in control of a four man team. A small command wheel supplies you with a wide array of tactics and orders to give your men, such as moving to positions, assaulting buildings, defending marked waypoints and healing team members.
The game sells itself as a realistic, tactics-based first person shooter, and the word realistic is said with extreme emphasis. Bullets fired from players and NPCs alike all react as they would in real world scenarios. Players must aim their weapons according to height and distance from the enemy if they hope to get a good shot in. Players must also tend to wounds sustained on the battlefield, leg wounds, arm wounds and chest wounds begin to bleed rapidly until a field dressing is applied, fail to treat your wounds and you might just get the grand tour of the Pearly Gates while your Men continue on with the mission.
Difficulties range from Normal to Hardcore, normal supplying the player with checkpoint assistance and on-screen aids such as objective locations, ammunition and weapon information, health status and small signals seen emanating from the crosshairs as you hit your targets. Hardcore mode leaves the core of the game intact while robbing the player of visual aids and cues. Looking for a casual gameplay experience? You could play normal mode. Not like it would make much of a difference at all.
The AI is, to say the least, not all that I, however they are, for the most part, relatively sapient. Most of your enemies will stand around like targets until you shoot at them, only then will they turn around and find out where you're firing from before giving you a taste of their firepower as well. Spec Ops enemies act like well trained Spec Op enemies and the lesser grunts, if you will, act just like soldiers. Unlike the games stated at the start of this review, the firepower bestowed upon thine enemies are about as equal to yours as you can get. One bullet to the right area on your player or your squad will mean either instant death or an agonizing, drawn-out, screaming for mercy blood-letting until they're healed up by the team medic. If I'm going to give you any piece of advice here, it'd be this: Steer clear of rushing your enemies. There are way more of them than there are of you at any given point and they all have the advantage. Distances make differences, and close combat should be reserved for those moments when you're equipped with the shadows, your nightvision goggles and the automatic fury of a silenced machine gun.
As previously stated, the game relies heavily on realism. When we say heavily, we don't just mean "Oh, the guns sound like actual guns", we mean "Oh look at my shiny new pist-" before a bullet goes whizzing through your skull from 25 meters away. The run-and-gun, spray-and-pray gameplay that you've gotten used to from your CoD days should probably be left back at base camp before you decide to step foot in Skira.
In summation, if you're looking for a game that offers you the chance to explore what it's like to be a Marine fighting behind enemy lines in command of a group of battle-hardened soldiers that will obey your every command, then Semper Fi, Marine. But, if you're a 'lax gamer with a temper like a lit fuse in a puddle of gasoline, I suggest you waste about six dollars on a rental before deciding to own OP:DR. Seriously.
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