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Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising

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Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
Opflashpt
Developer(s) Codemasters
Publisher(s) Codemasters
Engine EGO Engine
Release date NA October 6, 2009

EU October 8, 2009

AUS October 15, 2009

UK October 9, 2009

Genre First-person Shooter, Tactical Shooter, Open world
Mode(s) Single-player, Single-co-op, Multiplayer, Multiplayer-Co-op
Age rating(s) BBFC: 15

ESRB: M

PEGI: 18

USK: 16

Platform(s) Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3
Media Blu-ray Disc, DVD
Input Gamepad, Keyboard and Mouse
Credits | Soundtrack | Codes | Walkthrough

Is a first person tactical military game for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 developed by British game developer Codemasters. Codemasters have advertised the game as a tactical shooter designed to realistically represent modern infantry combat. It is a follow-up to Bohemia Interactive's Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis, but was developed entirely by Codemasters due to a falling out between the two companies.

Gameplay

Plot

Dragon Rising takes place on a fictional island named Skira (Based on the real-world island Kiska, which is located on the western end of the Aleutian Islands, Alaska), in May 2011. After the Global Economic Crisis causes mass unemployment and political destabilization in China, the PLA seize control of Skira and the vast, newly-discovered reservoir of oil there, from the Russian Federation. Peace talks prove useless as both combatants lay claim to Skira due to previous ownership of it. The situation deteriorates quickly and China begins to fortify its northern provinces in anticipation of armed conflict with Russia. Russia, already countering the PLA on the Chinese mainland, calls to the United States of America to retake Skira from the Chinese. Bound by treaty arrangements made after the end of the Cold War, America agrees and the two biggest armies in the world begin to clash on the island.

Setting

The real-world island of Kiska (on which the in-game island of Skira is directly based) is located on the western end of the Aleutian Islands, Alaska and was involved in WWII. It was at one point liberated by the United States Army and the Canadian Armed Forces after capture by Japanese forces. The developers have aimed to copy the 277.698 km (107.220 sq mi) accurately to give players a sandbox composed of natural terrain, instead of artificially designed or procedurally generated terrain.

Skira is a volcanic island with a variety of terrain. At one end is a stratovolcano, 8.5 by 6.4 km (5.3 by 4.0 mi) in diameter at its base and 1,221 m (4,010 ft) high, and at the base of the volcano is a section of low lake lands. A ridge of 1,000+ foot mountains runs down one side of the western portion of the island while the other side is generally flatter with numerous lakes and small waterways.

In real time, crossing the island would take 9 hours on foot, 4 hours in a jeep and 20 minutes in a helicopter. However, it is only possible to do this within the PC mission editor or with the Skira Island Tour mission. Skira is sparsely populated with some towns and more isolated houses and settlements. An interview with developers suggests that the civilians have all been evacuated ahead of the arrival of US forces. (Note that in the central region of the island, in a logging area, there is a deceased civilian that can be found next to a construction vehicle.)

Multiplayer

Dragon Rising also features a multiplayer mode. In storyline co-op mode, up to 4 human players can play through the singleplayer campaign together, each human player replacing a computer-controlled character. There are also the pure multiplayer modes Annihilation and Infiltration, with more multiplayer modes promised for after the release of the main game. It is important to note that the game does not support dedicated servers. The online community has been further enraged by the fact that the pc retail package misleadingly lists, under its multiplayer requirements, that "Dedicated host server are recommended for optimum performance".

The multiplayer numbers are 16 vs 16 on PC and 4 vs 4 with three bots (AI) per person on PS3 and Xbox 360.

The player vs player multiplayer only includes 4 maps to choose from on the retail disk.

In co-op mode, human-controlled characters must stay within 274m of each other.

In PvP missions the area of operations is limited to 4 square kilometres.

Weapons, vehicles and characters

According to Game Informer, there are over 70 weapons in game, all supported by a realistic ballistics system, although most are not readily accessible to the player. The weapons available in the game range from pistols and sub-machine guns to artillery and large bombs. Depending on the current campaign mission, they are pre-modified and equipped with optics, grenade launchers, laser sights or suppressors. The ballistics system, which simulates the effects of each weapon on buildings, vehicles, and people, is based as much as possible on the real specifications of each weapon (information on Chinese PLA weapons and vehicles is limited in some cases) and also takes into account flight times and effective ranges for each projectile. The balance of the weapons is not artificially created by the game developers, but was based on information provided by real life weapons designers. Learning the best usage of each of these weapons will be a significant part of the challenge of the game.

A graphical listing of known included weapons was recently published by GameSpot. It is not currently known whether this list is comprehensive or not.

Reloading a weapon, placing it to the shoulder, and other combat animations have been motion captured using soldiers who have been trained to use the equipment in real life.

There are 50 different land, air and sea vehicles including helicopters, tanks, boats and APCs along with a few vehicles/weapons which cannot be used directly, but which can be called in a support role, such as fighter jets and artillery. Most of the vehicles, however, are not accessible to the player outside of the PC mission editor.

The developers have created large numbers of faces for the characters involved in the game.The equipment that is carried by each character is accurate and, where applicable, distinct to that character's role. For example, communication specialists can be readily identified by the radio they carry. Everything the player's squad members are carrying is visible. All of this visible information is designed to allow better command of the squad mates as the player will be able to recognize them as a person by their face or by their equipment allowing them to give the best orders to each member of the squad.

Difficulty levels

Difficulty levels are differentiated not by changes in AI or weapon damage but by the visual information given to players. At the easiest level, standard FPS information is given to the player about weapons, ammo, squad health, compass direction along with cross hairs via a HUD. Additionally the location of enemies who have been spotted by the player's squad is indicated at the lowest level. Higher levels of difficulty remove this information until none is left on screen. Ammunition counts must be remembered as well as the health of the squad. Locations of enemies must be determined by listening to AI squad mates and using other visual cues like the direction they are firing. At high difficulties visual effects become more important, particularly at long range where smoke or dust can help to identify areas which are dangerous. At any difficulty level the player may be killed by a single shot, though according to designers, it is not always the case. The highest difficulty (hardcore) also removes the games checkpoint system entirely meaning death results in starting the entire level again.

Unlockable Missions

In addition to its standard campaign and multiplayer modes, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising has 6 missions that must be unlocked first using codes. Currently, codes to unlock two missions can be obtained through the Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising Recruit website. The remaining 4 unlock codes were received by pre-order customers.

Visual effects

The game has a terrain draw distance of 35 kilometers, with vehicles, soldiers and other objects being culled from render at approximately 1600m. Fire, smoke and dust are simulated based on effects of each weapon. A 2,000 pound bomb will throw up dust which will make it difficult to see, and fires created will burn for some time when set.

Although there is day and night cycle along with weather conditions, rain won't be included for reasons that are currently unknown. This may have to do with how much data is already being used for the game's other graphical features.

Development

Dragon Rising uses a version of Codemaster's EGO Engine, shared with a number of Codemaster's racing games. The engine has been designed to support Dragon Rising's wide, open spaces and 35 km draw distances.

The game features both nightvision and thermal imaging effects, real-time weather, lighting and shadow effects, 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound support. Other effects include realistic ballistics and limb dismemberment. Weapon attachments, a 'medic' system, and swimming are also featured. amBX is supported on PC and PS3, and trackIR is supported on PC platform but only for vehicles.

Mission editor

It has been announced that the PC version of the game will be supplied with a mission editor, which will allow players to create their own missions for single player, multiplayer and cooperative game modes. However the possibility still remains that the editor arrives via DLC for the console versions. The editor is real time, meaning no pre-render of the work is needed, users press a key and can drop into the mission 'Live' to test out or play. The editor supports many features including time of day, visual effects, dynamic weather and Lua scripting.

DLC

The main release of Dragon Rising will be followed by a number of smaller downloadable content expansion packs. These DLC packs are likely to contain multiplayer game modes and the possibility of new factions. These will be called the "Spear". DLC is now confirmed to be released every month, the first of which, "Skirmish" was released on November 5th, 2009 for the PC, with Xbox 360 and PS3 versions to follow. It is also confirmed that a small percentage of DLC will be free to download.

Reception

Reception
Review scores
Publication Score
Eurogamer 7/10
GameSpot 7.5/10
GameTrailers 7.1/10
IGN 7.8/10
Official Xbox Magazine 8/10
VideoGamer.com 7/10
X-Play  
Metacritic 76
Bit-tech 5/10
Games Xtreme 8.5/10
Gaming Union 8/10

Overall, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising was reasonably well received by critics. Considerable backlash from fans was evident upon release, as several gameplay features promised by Codemasters were not present in the final version, and major criticism was aimed at the A.I. Several reviewers noted it as buggy at times, hampering the fluidity of the game due to the player having to pause and correct the situation. Console gamers have reported experiencing "invisible body", which occurs occasionally in multiplayer after respawning. Additionally, the radial menus, while detailed, have been described by some reviewers as cumbersome to use. Bit-tech described it as "a schizophrenic design built over a bland world" and described the environment as "an imagination wasteland".

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