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.
US: October 6, 2009
Europe: October 9, 2009
Australia: October 22, 2009