Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (TGS 2009 Preview)
I love tactical FPS games, so naturally, I dropped everything the moment I saw a demo of this game running in the Microsoft booth. The first Flashpoint game, and it's spiritual sequel, ARMA, had a lot of flaws, but I really liked the direction the series was going as a realistic military simulation. Now that development has been transferred to Codemasters, I have high expectations that its new developers will be able to create a more satisfying experience.
In the Xbox 360 demo at TGS, you and 3 friendly AI are tasked to take three positions, the first of which is the top of a hill. On that hill is a small bunker-like structure with some sandbags. I took my time and went all the way around the enemy position to flank them from the right while I positioned my troops to engage the enemy from the front. But when I finally arrived at the top, all enemy AI were dead. So it's either team AI is really good, or the game was set to very easy for demo purposes.
The next position to take is a small outpost at the bottom of the hill, on the opposite side from where we came from. This time, I decided to just take them out head on. I got everybody rallied to me, and we basically just shoot the place up to hell. There was one enemy soldier on a machine gun, and I crept low under the grass to snipe him. It took me a few shots before I could hit him, but basically 2 shots did him in. The whole time that I was aiming and shooting, he was firing back at me, and the game would show this by having various special effects like dirt getting kicked up from the ground and vision blurring. I did not get hit once, despite being fired upon A LOT by a machine gun, which led me to think that perhaps the demo was set to god mode.
The other important AI feature I noticed is that it may actually be feasible to use suppression fire. After killing the machine gunner, I shifted my fire to the man on his left. After a few missed shots, he ducked behind cover. This could be a suppression script. Then again, it might just be coincidence. I am, however, hoping it is not coincidence, because the one thing I hate about some FPS games is when enemies you shoot at just stand and shoot back at you instead of running for cover.
The final objective is a larger outpost, which kind of looked like a village. There were a lot of bad guys there, and the attendant at the demo suggested that I use my binoculars to mark the area and request for close fire support from a nearby gunship.
This reminded me of civilian deaths due to indiscriminate fire, and for a moment I thought maybe it'd be a bad idea to blow this place up. So I asked the attendant, "are you sure there are no civilians in the area?" and he said, "yes, don't worry, they're all enemy soldiers."
"But it LOOKS like a village, doesn't it?" I added, to which he replied, "No, no, it's not a village. Just all enemies".
Okay then. And with that, I called in the Navy, watched the place go boom, and the demo was over. Actually, there seemed to be more in the demo, but the guy at the booth said that that was all I was allowed to play.
The game seems to be shaping up pretty well. Movement was spot on, the graphics were up to par, and shooting your rifle makes you feel like it will do heavy damage. I have heard that Codemasters paid lots of attention to sound effects, but unfortunately, the 360 demo did not have headphones, so I couldn't hear the in-game sounds very clearly.
The controls are much more streamlined compared to the original Flashpoint, but giving an order takes some time because the many possible commands are buried under several submenus. I can see that being a problem in the game, such as in the middle of an intense firefight, where acting quickly would spell the difference between life and death. It could also be a problem on multiplayer modes, since from what I understand, certain online modes will allow human players to control AI troops.
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, will be released this October 6 in North America and Europe, and winter in Japan, for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Also, look out for a public demo coming out soon.
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (TGS 2009 Preview) Reviewed by JM Taylor on 9/26/2009 10:20:00 AM Rating: