E3 2009: Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising Preview - Putting the Fear Back into Shooters
Written Saturday, June 13, 2009 By Dan WebbView author's profile
A bit of background first; the island of Skira is 220 square kilometres with a whole array of different terrains ... all of which are accessible by you, the player. Operation Flashpoint gives you access to over 60 different weapons and 30 vehicles you can get behind the wheel of, from jeeps to jets. The title is 4 player co-op enabled but doesn’t support drop in and drop out support due to technical limitations ... we presume because of the vast scale of the environment. Seriously, it’s absolutely huge. Expect fully destructible buildings and persistent damage in a sandbox environment that lets you do what you want.
You play the part as a soldier, not a John Rambo style soldier ... try that here and you won’t be successful, just a normal every day soldier. You’re essentially a cog in a much larger machine. As Lenton makes his way up a hill towards the radar station with his crew of 3 accompanying soldiers, the realism aspect is clear as day. Combat techniques like suppression and flanking enemies are pretty much a necessity if you’re going to survive, as is teamwork. Making use of the in-depth command system with the AI soldiers is the key to success. As Lenton sends his crew to the right of an enemy post ordering them to suppress, and hold position, it enables him to flank the enemy post to get a clear line of sight. Everything is at your fingertips; from ordering your troops to ambush with heavy weapons to changing their rules of engagement.
Most of the combat in Dragon Rising is long range engagement and it’ll be very rare you’ll get into a face to face firefight. Because of the open nature of the world, the enemy AI is pretty autonomous and sophisticated. This isn’t a corridor shooter, so no scripted moments; the opposition troops have to react to every situation through threat assessment and the game even adopts a morale system, so if you put a lot of pressure of a small band of men, expect them to cut their losses and retreat. Unfortunately for the enemies on the command post, Lenton flanks them and takes them down before they even have a chance to do that.
A quick word about difficulty levels. The difficulty levels in Dragon Rising don’t actually change the world itself; the AI remains the same throughout and what it does is changes the user feedback. So if you crank it up to 11 on the hardest difficulty; you’ll lose the cross hair, the direction of fire indicator and you’ll downed troops will stay down when they’re dead. Approaching the command post now, toggling a checkpoint on at the top of the hill, Lenton and his troops can get chance to regroup, stock up on ammo, and change weapons before moving on to take out the radar station.
With the radar station just under half a click away now, Lenton can make easy work of the troops guarding the tower taking out some conveniently placed explosive barrels. All that it takes now, after running a fair distance to get there – that being said, there seems to be a lot of running in the title, not Far Cry 2 distances, but still – is carefully and strategically place some explosives and the radar tower is down.
With the radar tower down, Lenton can complete his main objective which is to support a troop of ally soldiers trying to take down a large enemy outpost on the coast, a couple of clicks away. So he whips out his binoculars, laser tags the encampment and calls in the Howitzer support, which pretty much decimates the enemy encampment with a barrage of massive explosions. Job done, and it was a great way to demonstrate the whole “cog in a much bigger wheel” aspect that the title is shooting for.
If you want a different type of shooter this fall, something with a lot of realism, a lot of tactical depth, and something that will challenge the soldier inside of you, then look no further. It is as Lenton says, “a documentary shooter, rather than a Hollywood shooter.” Multiplayer is also incorporated but everything is a little hush-hush there at the moment. Codemasters though have a one of a kind title here. No other shooter on the Xbox 360 will realistically simulate combat like this, so don’t expect an easy ride. Don’t expect it to be beautiful either as we were seriously underwhelmed by the Xbox 360 visuals. Expect it to test your mettle. In the words of Lenton himself, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is aiming to put the “fear back into first person shooters.”
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising will be available on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC this fall.