Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3PC
The cub scouts never saw him coming...
The cub scouts never saw him coming...

The cub scouts never saw him coming...

Something tells me that a lot of people are going to be surprised by Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising. Codemasters has loudly proclaimed that their new game will take players "as close to war as they'll ever want to get," but secretly part of me doubts whether most gamers will know what they're getting into. Call me a cynic, but I suspect that more than a few people will pick up this up in the mistaken belief that it's an alternative to Modern Warfare 2. Anyone who does this is in for a rude awakening, that's for sure.

The reality of the situation will be all too clear to anyone who has played the original Operation Flashpoint - or indeed Bohemia Interactive's spiritual successor, the ArmA series. Like its forebears, Dragon Rising is a brutally tough endeavour - the kind of game that forces its users headfirst into a meat-grinder until they've learned the ropes. This is no run-and-gun FPS: welcome to the realm of the realistic military sim - a world in which your game can end abruptly with a single bullet to the head, fired by a near-invisible enemy from a bush in the far distance. For much of the time you'll be flat on your belly, slowly wriggling your way into a decent vantage point that will let you open fire on that tiny grey smudge on the horizon - the enemy soldier who's trying his hardest to kill you. Operation Flashpoint can be a frightening and disheartening experience, but if you can endure the many hardships you may find a special kind of thrill - one unlike anything on offer in other shooters.

In developing Dragon Rising, Codemasters faced two distinct challenges. First it had to continue the sterling work of Czech dev Bohemia Interactive Studios, the team who built the first Operation Flashpoint back in 2001. Last time around Codies was just the publisher, but since relations with BIS broke down, it opted to do the whole job internally. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Codemasters had to make OpFlash accessible to console users - and by extension, to a broader, less hardcore gaming audience. I should state right now that this entire article is based upon the Xbox 360 version, since this was the code we were sent for review. It's worth underlining this for several reasons, but particularly due to the fact that ArmA 2 was released on the PC earlier this year. In other words, PC owners have a direct rival to consider when making their purchasing decisions. Console gamers, by contrast, do not.

The backdrop for Dragon Rising is set out through a stylish, if brief, intro sequence that depicts the history of Skira - a fictional island (albeit one based on real-world geography) located just off the coast of Japan. In a nutshell, the island belongs to Russia, but the Chinese have invaded it on the grounds that it used to belong to them in the distant past; both nations are eager to get their claws on the vast reserves of oil that have just been discovered there. While the player character switches back and forth between missions, you're always part of a US Marine force that's been sent to reclaim the island for America's friends, the dear old Ruskies. My, how times change.

The actual characters you control aren't given anything in the way of backstory, but this doesn't really matter. The bottom line is that you're always the leader in a four-man fireteam, undertaking missions that will help the US to conquer Skira and drive off the People's Liberation Army. On a superficial level the game controls like an FPS (thumbsticks for movement, trigger for aiming and firing), but due to the combination of open-world environments and realistic combat, it plays completely differently. Progress is generally made slowly and carefully. You stick to cover wherever possible, keep an eye on the horizon and make full use of your three team-mates. When you encounter hostiles, it's usually an idea to lay down suppressing fire while someone else flanks them to get a better angle of attack. Rushing the enemy is an extremely bad idea, one that will almost certainly result in death. So you take your time, squint down the cross hairs and fire off rounds at that distant blob in the tree line. Sometimes you'll be firing at the guys you can't see: on all but the hardest difficulty setting, enemy troops will show up as red dots on your compass. You'll learn to keep a close eye on this indicator, as more often than not it'll save your life.

Thanks to the marines, the Giant Shredded Wheat was safe once more.

Thanks to the marines, the Giant Shredded Wheat was safe once more.

You'll learn these lessons time and time again. Dragon Rising is a cruel teacher, and he always gives you extra pain for homework. When you take a bullet that doesn't kill you, you'll start bleeding; unless you patch yourself up, you'll leak to death - and even if you do survive, you may find that your aim or movement is hindered by a crippled arm or leg. In a surprise departure from the omnipresent realism, your team's medic is able to cure these wounds using a magic syringe that somehow fixes your mutilated limbs in a matter of seconds. It's not terribly realistic, but you'll certainly be grateful for the second chance. Unfortunately your Chinese foes have a habit of sniping your saviour, just as he comes running to your aid. It's a smart tactic, one that you'd do well to adopt yourself: plug one guy, then open up on his chums as they crawl in to help.

Every time you die you'll be sent back to the previous checkpoint - effectively erasing any progress you'd made up until that point. These setbacks are particularly grating in the early days when you're still learning the game, when every minor objective feels like a Herculean task. You'll curse, you'll bitch, and you'll wonder why on Earth Codemasters didn't let you save the game whenever you like. The three difficulty settings on offer merely alter the amount of assistance you get during play, so even if you're playing on normal - a mode which grants you waypoints to follow, respawning team-mates and plenty of help with spotting enemies - you'll still be as vulnerable as an egg in a mosh pit.

New stuff to check out

8 Comments

To add your comment, please login or register

User Comments

LtMoFo's Avatar

LtMoFo

For the first time ever, I have to disagree with your review my friend. I have Arma II & OPF2 (Both on PC) and have to say OFP2 moves better, sounds better & looks better. Ive seen reviews at 8/10's & 9/10's on most sites/ magazines. Strange you gave it 7 but suppose its all about opinions. As I say, first time I have disagreed though- so felt the need to join & post as to tell people to try the game, dont think you will be disapointed. I am a fussy gamer too & love Batman: Arkham Asylum/ Resi 5/ Company Of Heroes/ Crysis/ Empire Total War etc so feel I have a decent & varied taste.
Posted 20:59 on 12 October 2009
xboxlive's Avatar

xboxlive

Had this game yesterday,played ok,nowt like COD which is a good thing,i have mostly played online.
Posted 09:35 on 09 October 2009
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Been looking at other reviews and its mixed across the board. You rather love it or hate it I'm afraid.

At least you get a good honest review from the boys from here.

OPFDR sounds like a great FPS game which can possibly encounter Rainbow Six for the sqaud commands etc. Im interested in this and I think I may get it but then again MW2 will be the best FPS out of the two if you are going to compare them.

If I can remember correctly the first Operation was all about the realism and was hard as nails. I don't think Codemasters wanted to drift Operation Flashpoint and turn into a arcade FPS such as Battlefield and COD standards. Obviously sounds like CM have kept to the original roots of Operation Flashpoint and the fans will most probably love this.

PS3 verison £29.85
Posted 13:23 on 07 October 2009
xboxlive's Avatar

xboxlive

Just payed for my copy :) cant wait for this game.
Posted 10:58 on 07 October 2009
oddball72's Avatar

oddball72

I played the original on PC and the graphics absolutely stunk. Particularly the player models, damn they were ugly. The game was hard as hell, it had countless bugs and glitches but I loved it.
Posted 16:43 on 06 October 2009
dazzadavie's Avatar

dazzadavie

I don't know if it was because of the review but I saw Neon playing on my friends list most nights.
Posted 15:33 on 06 October 2009
asapco's Avatar

asapco

"Okay, let's cut the moaning for a second. From what I've written so far, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I dislike Dragon Rising, or that it's a bad game."

Even after you said that, all you did was complain about it.

"The atmosphere is brilliant: it may not be the prettiest game you've ever seen"

See what I mean?
Posted 13:45 on 06 October 2009
xboxlive's Avatar

xboxlive

WOW that the lowest i seen this game reviewed.
Posted 10:21 on 06 October 2009

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
7
Out of 10
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
  • Excellent tension and atmosphere
  • Successfully ports much of the OpFlash experience
  • Challenge may be off-putting
  • Squad control is problematic
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 09/10/2009
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Genre: First Person Shooter
No. Players: 1-8
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 4,127 5
View Full Site