If you like first-person shooters, you are not necessarily going to like Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising. The game is more of a tactical military simulator than an action shooter. Whilst Codemasters has been a little more forgiving than the one-hit-and-you’re-dead gameplay usually associated with this sort of game, don’t expect the battlefield to be littered with medikits. Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is one tough cookie and requires the patience of a saint to get on with.
The game’s presentation is very slick. The gobsmacking animated info-cram of an introduction imparts 600 years of history in a few minutes. It’s you versus the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, with you being the US Marines. Combat takes place on a fictitious, oil-rich island somewhere in Asia, based on the real geography of an island off Alaska.
Gameplay is mission-based, set in a detailed open world battlefield. As squad leader, the player uses a pretty intuitive command system to fairly effectively issue the squad with orders. I say fairly, as it takes some getting used to. At your disposal are a variety of military vehicles, including tanks and helicopters. The PC version ships with a mission editor that enables you to quickly cobble together your own combat situations.
Controlling your soldier can be a bit of a mission; aiming felt imprecise, a world away from other shooters and even more haphazard than the similar Arma series. Thankfully the game’s AI is less than stellar, giving you plenty of opportunity to hit your opponents without it feeling like shooting fish in a barrel. The game offers a glimmer of the developer’s intensions that seems only a few patches away from realisation.
Overall, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is a good effort, if a little rough around the edges. Considering the comparison that would inevitably be made with the very similar Arma 2, you’d think that Codemasters would have tried a bit harder.