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Review Xbox 360: Operation Flashpoint 2 Dragon Rising

Operation Flashpoint 2 is a free roaming strategic first person shooter that offers you completely different aspects of war combat compared to your high octane modern shooters like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and G.R.A.W.

Prepare to focus, you’re going to need to focus. You’re a man down, he’s injured 200 meters NW and you have two enemy search teams looking for you 300 meters NE, your objective is just over the embankment 600 meters away and you’re running out of time…  This is the type of overwhelming scenario you will face in OFP. The game has an incredible intensity about it, stunningly lit areas to fight over and a really serious gritty feel, does put it in a league of its own but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its flaws.

The world has plunged into economic crisis, the Chinese workers have taken to the streets in protest over the demand in Chinese manufacturing and the country is at unrest. Russia responds to the tension and sees a chance to liberate the Skira Island, a former Chinese territory claimed by Japan and then by Russia following WW2. Skira Island hides some of the world’s largest and richest oil reserves left on this planet, and with two superpowers about to go into a full scale war over the island and both gathering in force at their borders, all hell is about to break loose. Russia requests the help of the U.S in halting this huge war between the two titans, the U.S has interest in the resources so helping the Russians would be of huge benefit and would stop an ugly large scale war on the mainland.

In the Dragon Rising campaign you take the role of both USMC infantry and Special Operations forces fireteam leaders in a range of challenging and tough engagements against the airborne brigade from the People’s Liberation Army of China, are you ready for your first real mission commander? I will take you through the first Campaign mission to give you a feel for the game, bringing an emphasis to the more important and unique scenarios and instances you will encounter. I will also talk about the controls and movement along with the area you’re set in, your surroundings are very important and it may take two or three different tries from different angles and with different tactics to complete your objective. It will be long but I think equally important that you understand what kind of combat is in this game, after a description of the first mission I will talk about other important modes and features.

01: Dragon Rising

You will first be shown your brief, it’s good to have a good look and the information is useful. You can also get a more detailed brief by pressing X, this will bring up some text for you explaining the situation and some general directions to follow, there’s intelligence for you to look over too, listing enemy forces and friendly forces which is very useful in evaluating the danger you could get into. Along with the map and text in the brief you can also View Force by pressing Y, you can check the teams and squads active for this mission. You can check individual soldiers equipment to see what combat support they have, it’s not always really useful information but every now and again it’s worth a look, press A to start the mission.

You’ve just been dropped off by one of your helicopters into your first mission, it’s dusty and there’s trees and shrubbery all around you with an almost dusty orange look to the ground while you and your troops settle into your first position. You’re given verbal commands when you hit the ground, you must destroy the early radar warning systems so our ships can move into range of Skira Island safely. Most missions are timed or have points where you will have a certain amount of time to complete your objective which can put a lot of pressure onto you and make you think on your feet, now it’s time to get used to movement and the controls so you can become an efficient killer.

Walking and aiming out of sight go without saying, movement isn’t too slow it’s just right and moving your sight around is easy too, you can change the look sensitivity in the Controls part of the pause menu, press the X button for Advanced settings. In the Control tier of the menu you can change the layout of the controls for infantry and the vehicle controls such as the pilot, driver and gunner controls, which is a nice bit of detail for you to enjoy. From here out the tutorial will kick in guiding you through the different layout of controls compared to other shooters, I have played COD a lot and it did take about twenty minutes for me to become adjusted, if you’re struggling or dying because you’ve pressed the wrong button in the midst of combat, don’t panic the more you play the better you WILL remember the controls. Sprint is Left Bumper instead of the obligatory Left analogue, having left bumper as sprint will no doubt save damage to your pad, no slightly moving forward after six hours of using the analogue stick to run. To zoom in you press the Left Trigger button, having the two buttons set out this way makes running into combat more effective, obviously not advised but when you need to run and stop and provide cover, it is very effective. The Left Analogue stick is used to hit the dirt so you will no doubt ( I did) lye on the ground when you wanted to run, it’s ok I made that mistake for a while even into the later levels, I even did it occasionally in later levels you must really concentrate this really isn’t a game for people who can’t concentrate for long periods of time.

There are a few more buttons/controls that do things like bringing up your inventory and changing your fire rate but you can easily pick that up while you play, now it’s time for some combat scenarios. After you’ve got to grips with the games basic movements take your attention to the top of the screen, you see that compass? That compass is your best friend, it brings up a red mark when enemies are close and the mark gets bigger if the enemy gets closer, it is a god send and you will need it to plot through some tricky situations. The first mission does involve a lot of running, there are vehicles around but you become a pretty big noisy target and going on foot would be easier for you right now. You will approach an objective, not your main objective right now but this target is there and it is also guarded, so what do you do? You stop and look around, get yourself to higher ground as it is a great advantage to have. Also check where your men are, you can command your team using the Right Bumper button and it is really quite important to have them in good cover, the A.I are great at suppressing and taking out targets, you will have to use them to progress. So you’ve placed your men, checked out the mini map (Back button) and have your eyes on your compass, this is where the game partly rewards you, setting up plans of attacks can be daunting and complicated but you can forget what it feels like as a gamer when it all comes together and actually works, it is very rewarding but it doesn’t always happen this way.

The game is hard, I did warn you the slightest of mistakes could cost you a lot of time and it is very disappointing when you fail/die but you feel strong emotions because you have put all that time and effort in. In combat it could take just one well aimed bullet to the head to kill you, doesn’t happen too much from a distance but the closer your enemy’s are they will take you out without hesitation like you would them. However you can just become injured, when bleeding out hold the B button to bring up your inventory then select Field Dressing then patch you or your team mates up. Obviously becoming injured isn’t the best outcome and you will have to deal with it like a real soldier and it will affect your play, a lot of Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is about action and consequence and it will test your thought pattern and pure will and determination.

Ok back to this mission, what I choose to do here was not to confront the small patrol but to walk along the beach to get past them. Remember some missions are timed and wasting time on groups of men isn’t the smart thing to do, so I ran along the beach to the top of the Island where my first objective to take out the SAM’s is located. I scaled the left side of the hill slope to get to higher ground, this target is defended well and you will need this advantage. 500 meters away from my target now and I’ve managed to alert a sniper being out in the open, things can go wrong but it’s up to you to think quick and solve this situation quick. I took the sniper out and realised he had a really good spot over my objective, so I gave the command for my men to go up the side hill first. When I reached the top I found an ammo drop, these are wickedly important you really really don’t want to be stranded with no ammo, you can also strip dead bodies for equipment too, so always restock when you can. 150 meters now, and I’ve come over the top of the hill to spot a group of buildings, I scanned over them to keep my eyes on any threats but I was spotted and they all rushed us on the hill. Because I was on higher ground I easily eliminated the treat, having these advantages really is important and could cost you the mission, so always watch where you and your men are placed.

I did complete my objective but at a cost, I lost two of my men in a fire fight with an APC, at certain points your men do respawn but this shows you how hard the game can be but also how very exciting it can be when you’re a man down or you are being overpowered. That was one part of the first level, it gets a lot harder after that with many other tricky situations being thrown your way but I do have a couple of problems with the single player campaign. You can get stuck on random objects, random objects are used for cover so this is actually a bad glitch to have and the fact you have to run everywhere for miles is a bit too much, I don’t want to be wasting too much of my life in that respect and using vehicles makes you a very easy target. Your A.I do have their moments of stupidity, giving them an order to assault a target does not mean run down the hill and go shake hands, it means just destroy that target! Also I can understand peoples disappointment in it being a very challenging game, it looks beautiful and impressive and the main stream audience will want to play it but this is not a game for the main stream audience, this is a game for hardcore gamers if I’m honest and I very rarely use that word in my reviews but it is true in this case, otherwise the single player campaign is the most challenging experience I’ve played on the 360 along with the likes of Ninja Gaiden 2.

Ok here comes the disappointing part. Operation Flashpoint does have co-op play online for four players so you can complete the campaign with your friends, it does have abit of “lag” and I don’t normally suffer from that annoying ache that is “lag” which was odd as the game seems to have a great quality about it, and I had to go into matching making with strangers as none of my friends had it, so I got stuck with three young boys… they could have been fifteen, they certainly acted like it. Otherwise it is easier to complete with friends and some of the harder difficulties can actually be considered as doing the harder difficulties alone will take you a long time and probably drive you into a screaming mess (not always a bad thing) if the co-op was better i have no doubt this title would be accessible to more people, I could see a group of friends buying this to all play together after work or on the weekend if it worked properly that is, it is hard to actually get into a room of any type.

There are a few multiplayer options, Create Match, Quick Match, Leaderboards, Statistics ECT but all of which is practically useless as when you go into Browse Servers nothing ever comes up apart from maybe one match which is normally co-op. It’s very hard to get a game type of any other multiplayer mode which is a crying shame as the campaign is well thought out and is different to what’s out there shooter wise and a half decent multiplayer side would have created more instant action, which is what the game needs to become more accessible and popular, everything around the campaign seems to be neglected and in quite an obvious way. If you do however manage to find an Annihilation or a Infiltration match the maps are great, great in an epic sort of way and there is DLC available already for you to enjoy, the DLC consists of four new multiplayer maps and four new Fire Team Engagement (FTE) missions featuring solo and four player co-op play, which is to be considered for a measly 400 MSP, that’s great value for money even if the multiplayer is a bit hit or miss.

What really gets my goat is the game looks breath taking, its set in many different detailed areas and the lighting effects are  incredible, this gives you a feel you probably wouldn’t have experienced before on the 360, everything blends in well together and looks “real” to an extent. The fact the campaign is fantastic and the game has an incredible look and feel but everything else well… sucks, well makes me a little sad that Codemasters didn’t finish the job and could have given a lot more people a taste of hard, polished but gritty war combat.

Gamer Rating: 7.5

Buy, Pass or Rent: If you’re hardcore buy it, and if you’re well a more “relaxed” gamer… well id pass on it.

Published by: Codemasters
Developed by: Codemasters
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release Dates:
US: October 6, 2009
Europe: October 9, 2009
Australia: October 22, 2009

Operation Flashpoint 2 Dragon Rising

I’m really enjoying OFP even though people warned me it was “too hard” it’s a much more complex challenge and takes a bit of time and thought. Gamers are getting very lazy these days, demanding everything on a plate well I like working for my treasures and rewards! It’s why I play games and I’m glad I can play OFP and my gaming skills haven’t degraded since my Dreamcast/Sega Saturn days where dying every 10 minutes was the norm, it made you practice and practice till you did it the good old-fashioned way through hard gaming graft. All I’m saying is there’s nothing wrong with pushing yourself and trying out some uncomfortable territory, never know if you stick with it you might get better at it….  heaven forbid.
 
CK out… 

Review Xbox 360: Borderlands

A journey of danger, gore and heaps of weapons makes this one of the most enjoyable games you could possibly play this year.

You are on Pandora, a hostile unforgiving planet full or secrets, extreme events and some angry looking monsters. You are a mercenary sent to plunder this planet of all its riches and to discover the location of the mysterious Vault and along the way quests, objectives and violence! The intro scene will have you in that groovy killing mood in no time and gives you an exciting , new, quality feel right from the word go. So you’ve enjoyed the intro scene now you must pick your mercenary and there are four to choose from:

Roland: Soldier and former Crimson Lance mercenary, able to deploy a Scorpio Turret, a weapon that attacks automatically while shielding Roland. Rifles and shotguns are his standard-issue weapons.

Lilith: Siren Phasewalker who can fight invisibly with extreme speed. She prefers guns firing incendiary, shock and corrosive rounds.

Mordecai: Hunter whose bird of prey Bloodwing follows him into battle. Mordecai is a sniper rifle master favouring the revolver as a side arm.

Brick: Berserker who annihilates adversaries with his fists while in an almost indestructible rage state. When not pulverizing enemies by hand, Brick fights using explosive weaponry.

The four mercenaries are very different from each other giving you four unique and different ways to play the game, you can however use whatever weapons you like with each character, their classes have more favoured weapons and different abilities. When I first started I chose the Siren for her speedy but stealthy attacks, you can change the colour of your characters clothing by visiting the New-U-Station screen, they look like gas burners for your back yard and glow neon green when nearing them and will save all your stats when used so when you die you will respawn at these points.

Your “guardian angel” will appear telling you to get off the bus, your tutorial will start here. A small cheeky robot will welcome you to fire stone, these robots are called Clap Traps and they will appear throughout the game offering extra backpack spaces if you can locate a tool box to repair them. He will give you a heads up display showing you your experience, heath, ammo and a compass at the bottom in white, after an interruption by a group of bandits in vehicles you will be introduced to some enemies you can kill. You will start with one weapon but weapons come in abundance so I wouldn’t worry about not finding more, the controls are smooth and getting around is easy which is important as you have a whole new exciting but dangerous world to explore.

After you’ve killed the small nest of bandits start looking around and picking everything up, enemy’s drop a variety of things from ammo to cash and weapons, always do this as you will need the cash later on for ammo upgrades and shields. There are so many things to find and explore in Borderlands it will keep you more than happy all the way through if you fancy just treasure hunting yourself off the beaten track. When you pick up some weapons press the back button to access your character menu, scroll to your inventory to find you weapon slots and assign one extra weapon for the time being more will open as you play. When you’re out of the character menu the D-pad is used for short cuts for your weapon slots or press Y button to scroll through your last two weapons you used, making combat very enjoyable as you can switch weapons quickly also saving you and, if you choose, your buddies from hairy situations.

As you progress you will be introduced to all those locked spaces in your inventory like Grenade Mods enabling you to throw them and also to change the ability on the grenades you throw. You will also unlock Shield Mods which is self explanatory and when a shield is equipped an extra bar will appear above your health bar giving you an edge on your enemies. Even further on and you will unlock Class Mods, these are devices to boost  your character class’s stats and come in many variety’s and ranks. The game gives you enough time to become proficient before introducing you to another feature or ability which makes the transgression through training to the main plot smooth and seamless, you will start to notice more and more quality and ideas to challenge you as you progress and will carry on to the end throwing some unexpected things your way, it is Pandora after all.

To start your first missions in fire stone you must first find Dr. Zed, the Clap Trap will give you a mission involving getting to Dr. Zed. Mission objective show up on your compass and are indicted by a green and white flashing triangle, it’s very easy to use and follow especially over the wastes of Pandora and your compass will also show other things like car depot and mission spots making navigation painless, and if you’re still stuck or lost you can always consult your map with the back button and scroll along the menu tabs. After a violent introduction to Dr. Zed you can start to pick up more and more missions eventually opening up new ways to other areas and new missions.

The map is huge and has many areas extending from it giving you expansive areas to explore, also you can open up short cuts in certain areas making trekking back for missions a little bit less time consuming. The level design is high quality with nothing looking out of place and various chests and caves make for good exploring, there are also some amazing sights to be had around Borderlands standing on top of buildings or areas you have scaled can be rewarding as you can see far and wide. As you explore and complete missions you will gain access to vehicles which makes all the difference as some areas are right down the bottom of the main map, you can also use the travel posts marked on your map to instantly travel to other areas you have explored making exploring the whole game a strong possibility and why not you have alot to discover.

As you progress you will notice there aren’t just bandits on Pandora but hardy looking monsters too, there is a good variety of life on Pandora all of which are trying to kill you or eat you but some other forms of life that are harmless should have been added for the cheap kill factor and for more depth, mutant cows always go down well, just seems like there’s too many hostile enemy’s to survive on Pandora but it is entertaining when bandits and monsters try and murder eachother, it gives you a Borderlands perspective of the fight for life. All AI is detailed well for the cell shaded look Borderlands has and the gore effects make combat what is it, very violent and exciting even when you’re a high level you still will be challenged by hordes/villages of bandits or huge flying creatures that breath down elements. There are also bosses and mini bosses, these may have a short cut scene but be warned they normally have much better abilities than your average bandit or monster and often have strong Hench men to protect them, these parts of the game are normally in some kind of arena and will test your skills. You must use all of your powers and probably most of your ammo but these tests in the game keep you looking out for bigger bader enemy’s and get you really involved in the game.

The story progresses well,  I won’t spoil it buts definitely worth seeing through to the end even if your short on time these days and with excellent side missions to boot will keep you focused in game if that’s what you feel like doing, but you can also explore in your own time giving you options to fit what killing mood you’re in. 

The game is solid all the way through and fans of this genre will be very happy, the game expands as you play leaving you wanting to play more and not trading it in after two days. It also has online co-op for four people which is fantastic, you and your friends pillaging and murdering on a Saturday night, you just can’t beat sharing experiences with friends online or offline. Split screen however is a huge fail, there’s too much going on screen for small/medium TV’s and scrolling menus across your screen to see them just doesn’t work sadly, larger TVs I expect may reduce this problem. It’s nice to see more “worthy titles” especially being advertised well on TV as they’re not misleading the customer in anyway this has quality running all the way to the end and more, this is definitely a game to be proud of.

Gamer Rating: 9.7

Buy, Rent or Pass: Big Fat Buy

Published by: 2K Games
Developed by: Gearbox Software