Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising – The PS3 Attitude Review
The first person shooter genre is heavily weighed down from the likes of Call of Duty to Killzone 2, so it has become more important than ever for developers to make their FPS games stand out from the crowd.
Codemasters’ Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is the company’s latest answer to the genre, and so how well does it fair?
The game is set on an island off the north coast of Japan in the not so distant future and is a contested territory between Russia and China.
With its untapped oil reserve, China sees it as a target to solve their economic problems. So this is where the United States Marine Corps come in as they arrive on request by the Russians, former cold war enemies, to help save the island from invasion.
You play as one of the US troops and must complete several long campaign missions on the island to support the war effort.
The early presentation is impressive and gives you high expectations, but we regret to say they are not lived up to in many aspects of this game.
The missions are not the most thrilling or well designed, but the maps for the game are very open, and this will appeal to a lot of people. The developers have given clear goals and also a lot of freedom on how players go about completing them. This approach is a double-edged sword because although it can extend the length of the campaign, it can also make it harder and an annoyance when you are looking to quickly progress forward.
The other troops in your small squad will undertake different roles such as Medic or machine gunner, and this gives you the sense that they are not just tagged along with you for the ride, and you can actually rely on them to do some of the hard work.
In the game you can direct them around like a true leader and deliver team orders, as well as commands to individual soldiers. This makes for a more tactical and arguably complicated game that pushes you to use your brain before your fingers.
Some gamers will find themselves using these options all the time, while others will start by totally ignoring them altogether and try to play it like most other first person shooters. If you’re hoping that you can complete this game that way, you will meet a brick wall – Dragon Rising is not a swift war game and asks for patience and planning.
Call of Duty veterans may find this title a culture shock as strategy is very much the name of the game: What it lacks in electrifying and fast action is mostly made up with the depth of choices from weapons and tactical choices.
So many first person shooters are very easy to jump into and shoot like a mad man where you’re guaranteed to progress – this game is very different. Dragon Rising has a steep learning curve that will no doubt put out of place a lot of long-term fans of the genre, and it’s a type of game we are not used to seeing on a console.
As usual several difficulty levels are offered to help those that are struggling with the default, but instead of making enemies better or your weapons less powerful, various HUD options are removed. Some may argue that this is better, but we tend to feel that the developers didn’t want to go to the effort of implementing a proper system in the game – one that would help new players to the genre! This decision by the developers means that there is no way to make the game any easier, only harder.
There has been a clear effort by the developers to bring the realism of the battle field into this game, but they appear to have stepped over a few obvious areas.
Places where they have succeeded include if you get wounded, most of the time you can’t simply hide behind a rock and wait till you recover. OF:DR requires you to use field dressing to kiss yourself better with like a true soldier.
Another realistic aspect is that reloading goes through every action that a real life soldier has to go through, and we admire this attention to detail, but it does seem to take an eternity as a result.
But then when you look at other areas, like the vehicles, not only do they handle so appallingly, there is no animation for getting in or out whatsoever. Did the developers see that is was an unnecessary addition, or did they just overlook it?
One of the aspects of the game that Codemasters has talked about is the incredible visual presentation. Granted the menus and some cut scenes are creditable, but you shouldn’t carry too high expectations if you have seen some of the other games out this year. Many of the textures look rushed and even unfinished such as the soldiers’ faces, and yet there are parts of the game that look amazing like some of the environments. We feel this is one of the items on the list that they were perhaps hoping to achieve, but just never quite met with flying colours.
This game is also let down by too many bugs and a disastrous A.I. system. The brain power of the enemy easily outmatched us on several occasions, but this is overshadowed by the poor intelligence of your very own colleagues. It’s so unbelievably frustrating when one of your own troops just walks into your line of fire, or stands out in the open while taking no cover from the flying bullets – evidently looking for an early burial! Luckily there is another way to play this game…
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising comes with both four man co-operative support, and head to head eight player multiplayer modes. We had high hopes for these but we were left disappointed for a few reasons.
The co-op mode allows players to take a role in the four man squads and then progress through the game’s main campaign mode. Potentially this would be very fun but the frequent framerate issues can let it down. If it weren’t for these problems, this would be the preferred way to play through the story. Luckily we hear that Codemasters are working to resolve these connection problems with a patch in the future, but they should have never been there from the start.
It’s sad to say that these issues also make their way onto the main multiplayer four vs four battles. In this mode, one side are assigned with the role of the Americans while the other as the Chinese as you play classic deathmatch style games. Because each side is only limited to four players, it feels a little lacklustre when you are treated with the huge landscapes to play in.
Overall the multiplayer aspect is very poorly executed and feels like it’s only half complete.
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising had the potential to be a classic, but thanks to the poor delivery and lack of imagination for the mission structure and multiplayer, it falls way short of this success.
Credit is due for the areas realism that this game portrays of real life warfare, but this aspect arguably works both ways.
This game is like Marmite: You either love it or hate it. Many gamers just look for a game that they can pick up and play after a long hard day, and if this applies to you then we suggest you look elsewhere.
It will divide opinion for as long as people keep playing it, but take it from us that this is less of a hit and more of a miss.