Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising debuted back in 2009. Though the first Operation Flashpoint received an Xbox conversion after initially releasing as a PC exclusive, when Codemasters originally unveiled the revival of the Operation Flashpoint series it came as quite a shock that the game was being developed with the intention of launching across multiple formats. Codemasters clearly believed there was a market for challenging combat simulators on consoles. With a lack of any competition in 2009, you’d have had a hard time arguing against them.

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising screenshot

Operation Flaspoint Makes a Comeback

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is played from a first-person perspective, though thinking of it along the same lines as Frontlines: Fuels of War or the Battlefield series will find you drastically under-prepared for the task at hand. Codemasters took “simulation” to its most possible extremes, with the Hardcore difficulty removing all aids except the overhead map.

The campaign plays out as a series of levels set across the landmass of Skira, a poetic interpretation of the real-world island of Kiska. The game introduces the player into this world without a heartbeat’s thought of mentioning just how taxing the proceedings will be. You’re immediately tasked with taking out a radar emplacement on a small island just off the coast of Skira. This sets the scene for a coordinated assault on the occupying hostile Chinese PLA forces the next day. Secondary objectives are also available in this and every mission. Though aside from making later objectives slightly easier or grabbing the occasional Achievement, there is no inherent reward for successful completion of secondary targets.

The objectives a player is tasked with generally concern themselves with assaulting designated targets on the map or creating a path for friendly units. Though it may be possible to consider the variation somewhat limited, the player is free to exercise any tactics they wish to accomplish their current mission. A vast array of technology is available to the player, each with its own tactical edge ensuring success. But with the entire island at your disposal it may often be easier to avoid unnecessary assaults on enemy placements. The player must be aware of their surroundings at all times. Alerting just a single guard to your presence before having a thoroughly planned-out strategy can quickly end your run, and across the island of Skira you undoubtedly outnumbered.

Taking Command of the Operation

Playing as the squad leader in single-player, you will have a number of commands for your teammates accessible via a wheel menu. AI squad members can easily be ordered into position. They can lay down covering fire or assault using a flanking manoeuvre, and typically respond in a respectable manner.

Playing online, however, allows you to fill the numbers of your four-man squad with human teammates. The entire campaign is available for co-operative gaming. Each player takes on a different role in the squad, with the hosting playing automatically filling in the role of squad leader and retaining command over any AI teammates in your ranks. Each role carries different equipment, and learning your place in a squad can be just as vital as learning that a slow, precise crawl across the map is a quicker route to success than constant use of the limited sprint action. The tortoise and the hare, and all that.

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising screenshot

Dancing Dragons

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising’s presentation is somewhat of a mixed bag. Instantly recognisable of its EGO Engine heritage, the detail across the 220km2 breadth of Skira is fantastic. It offers the player the opportunity to employ a wide range of tactics for each differing scenario and environment. The weapon detail is also stunning and the draw distance is faultless. However, many of the character models are lacking in detail and often poorly animated. Aurally, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising delivers fantastically authentic presentation. Every gun, vehicle and environmental effect delivering clarity alongside realism.

Codemasters lived-up to the reputation established with the first Operation Flashpoint for presenting a challenging simulator. It’s without precedent, however, that Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is so thoroughly engrossing throughout its lengthy campaign. Despite the numerous deaths that will befall the player, all will be a direct result of an obvious mistake rather than unnatural abilities of your enemies, and the thrill of successfully executing a well thought-out plan never diminishes. Especially when playing with human teammates.

In 2009, Codemasters were certain there was a market opportunity for Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising on consoles. They were right. The game was a huge success. As such, the publisher decided to immediately begin work on a follow-up. Sadly, lightning didn’t strike twice. 2011’s Operation Flashpoint: Red River was a resounding disappointment. But that’s a story for another day!

Categories: Games