LEIPZIG, Germany--It was over four years ago that Bohemia Interactive announced it was working on a sequel to Operation Flashpoint, and a whole lot has changed since then. For starters, Codemasters is now developing Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising (yes, that's the first time you've seen the full title) internally with its Neon engine. Operation Flashpoint 2 is also set in a theatre of war quite different to those that were announced previously. During a recent visit to Codemasters' UK headquarters while en route to Leipzig, we were treated to a brief tour of the development studio as well as a presentation detailing a lot of the company's plans for the game.
If you've been following the progress of Operation Flashpoint 2 over the past few years you might recall that the game was going to feature fictional conflicts in Southeast Asia, Central Europe, and Africa in the '60s and '70s. We can now confirm that you'll be doing your fighting on an island group off the east coast of Russia where massive oil and gas reserves have been found. That much is based on real life, but the conflict in which the Chinese are attempting to reclaim the islands from Russia is fictional. By the same token, we're told that the island will be re-created quite faithfully, but its name will be changed.
Predictably, you won't be assuming the role of a soldier from Russia or China. Rather, you'll be part of a "small US military presence" attempting to protect the interests of major oil companies that have set up shop in the region. You'll be fighting alongside the Russians in that capacity, and although it's easy to refer to Operation Flashpoint 2 as a "squad-based" shooter, it'll be large armies that clash on the game's 200-plus-square-kilometer battlefield, not squads. As in the original game, you'll get to assume the roles of a number of different characters while playing through the single-player game, but Codemasters isn't talking about any of the specifics just yet, save for the fact that you'll get to command other soldiers only after proving your worth as a grunt in earlier missions.
Since Operation Flashpoint 2 is set in the present day, all of its weapons, vehicles, and the like will be 100 percent authentic. You'll have access to an arsenal of more than 50 weapons in the game and, to give you some idea of how detailed the models for them are, the grenades that you throw will weigh in at around 5,000 polygons each. Even the bullets will be modeled in considerable detail, and their trajectories will, of course, take realistic ballistics into account. Furthermore, many of the 50 weapons in your arsenal will offer a large number of customization options--just as they would in real life. Suppressors, extra grips, grenade launchers, telescopic lenses, and laser sights will be just the beginning.
Operation Flashpoint 2's garage appears to be every bit as impressive as its arsenal and, although we weren't told how many vehicles will be available for you to commandeer in the game, we were shown a good number of their impressively detailed models. We can't confirm that the following vehicles will all make it into the finished game, but those that we saw included the ZBD2000 amphibious fighting vehicle, a small unit riverine craft (SURC), the LAV-25 light armored vehicle, a Humvee, and some kind of helicopter.
While we can't claim to have seen any evidence of how good the artificial intelligence is in Operation Flashpoint 2, we're told that it will be one of the most impressive aspects of the game. Large-scale battles will purportedly never play out the same way twice, as AI-controlled forces constantly adapt to the changing environment and react to whatever tactics you're employing. There's really no substitute for playing with other people, though, and Operation Flashpoint 2 will support both large-scale battles and cooperative play online. The game will also ship with a mission editor, so there should be plenty of user-created content to keep you busy long after you've beaten the campaign and know the islands like the back of your hand.
Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising is currently scheduled for release sometime in 2008. We look forward to bringing you more information as soon as it becomes available.