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Review: Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising - PC, Xbox 360, PS3

by Steven Williamson on 28 October 2009, 10:35

Tags: Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising, Codemasters, PC, Xbox 360, PS3, FPS

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Gameplay Impressions

Gameplay Impressions
We wanted to love it, we really did, but considering all of the incredible video footage we’ve seen of Dragon Rising in the lead up to launch over the past few months, plus the hype and our own high expectations, we’re quite disappointed that it doesn’t quite live up to its legacy. The franchise’s move to console is almost certainly going to divide the opinion of the Xbox 360 audience, who are often reportedly as being less “hardcore” than the PC crowd.

Whatever the case, Dragon Rising is going to challenge the most seasoned of gamers.The slow-paced, strategic gameplay is going to appeal to some but equally it will put of those who get their FPS kicks from having a run-and-gun attitude; here that frame of mind will get you shot to pieces. Such is the steepness of the learning curve that there’s really no excuse not to introduce some of the in-depth squad commands, tactics and weapon handling via a tutorial. The tough gameplay, which saw us getting killed frequently in our first few hours of the campaign, may be a little overwhelming for some players, whereas others will relish the challenge. As we said, it's really going to divide opinion.

Dragon Rising is full of tense and exciting moments, because it generally feels like every bullet potentially has your name on it. Without tactics and thinking one step ahead of the enemy you'll get nowhere. It's a shame then that save points have been placed at ridiculous stages during the campaign. You can spend a lot of time moving slowly up the battlefield taking out the opposition only to have a sniper take you out just as you're about to complete an objective. The fact that you have start again from way back is immensely frustrating. Still, it teaches you a harsh lesson. In Dragon Rising, you can't afford to be complacent.

The steep learning curve is certainly going to provide an entertaining challenge for some and when the squad-based system, which requires you as the Fire Team Leader to control the movements and behaviour of your three team-mates, works it does so extremely well; your squad will effectively help you to suppress the enemy and it feels like you're all in it together working tightly as a team. However, considering squad-based play is so important to the enjoyment of the game, it's a huge shame that your team far too frequently disobey your commands or react slowly to your orders. The poor behaviour of the A.I. may be fixed, possibly, at some point via a patch, but it should have been right from day one. When your team-mates clumsily stand in your way or get stuck in a rock it just ruins some of the otherwise enjoyable battles. It actually feels at times that your team are a hindrance and not a help at all.

Click for larger image

In co-op mode, this issue is obviously totally eliminated and if you can muster up a team of four like-minded individuals then Dragon Rising is a hell of a lot of fun. The locations are designed superbly specifically to utilise your whole team to the best of its advantage with plenty of places for cover and terrain that encourages tactical play such as flanking manoeuvres. Weapons handle extremely well and you really do have to plan your attacks with pin-point precision; when you complete a tough objective as a team it's extremely satisfying. There is lot of mission variety as well and the game is paced nicely with a spread of stealth, infantry and time-based missions that shift the pace and keep you on your toes. The 11 campaign missions are quite long and are split into multiple objectives and they do a decent job at keeping you engrossed and focused on the action.

Part of that immersion has been captured through some excellent audio work and superb graphics that largely capture the atmopshere of war. However, it still doesn't quite live up to the quality that we saw in the pre-release videos; at times it looks like a different game. Like the A.I., the graphics are inconsistent; one minute the environment will look stunning with a spectacular sunset casting its orange hue across the landscape and other times it looks like the developer hadn't quite finished polishing it up before launch.

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising 2's biggest flaw though is that there are far too many bugs in the game. We've stumbled across bugged missions, enemies that don't want to die, enemies that die about 5 seconds after we've shot them, team-mates that go off and do their own thing and countless other small, but significant annoyances. It just lacks consistency and feels a bit sloppy at times. When all is said and done though, we've still enjoyed the excitement of co-op play and the tension of some engrossing and tense mission. For that reason, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is worth checking out, but be warned it may frustrate just as much as entertain.

Final Score: 7/10

Note: Connection problems accessing the multiplayer component prevented us being able to give our impressions on the online game modes. This affected the final score.

More info: Codemasters write :Patch updates and DLC news will be forthcoming. We're just finalizing a few details here and there. Sit tight!

HEXUS Forums :: 3 Comments

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Completely agree with this review. I got the PC version with high hopes, with the fond memories I had from the original. Boy, what a let down. The control feels completely clunky, the enemy AI is excessively accurate, and the squad AI is dumb as dirt. I also felt the campaign was far too short, and did little to show off what strengths the engine had to it's full abilities.
next time this game comes out will be to trade in at GAME to get MW2 half price.
enjoyed the play through but the allied AI just completely prohibited me from even bothering with hardcore mode
I bought this the other week when ASDA had it cheaper and boy what a letdown. The enemy A.I is way to tough for my liking. Even put it onto easy to see if I could get anywhere but it was almost as tough. Visually it is very impressive and the sound is great.

Where do you draw the line when it comes to fun and enjoyment when it comes to military simulation. I find this so tough that it takes away the enjoyment. Shame really as I had high hopes for it.