Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising Hands-On

Realistic military tactics meet open-world sandbox gameplay in this upcoming shooter from Codemasters.

By their very nature, tactical military shooters are restrictive affairs that reward you for keeping your actions well within the bounds of realism. It's a genre where success is predicated on doing things by the book and sticking with a proven strategy for keeping you and your team out of harm's way. In other words, the genre is probably not your first choice for an open-world sandbox game--but Codemasters sees things a little differently. For its upcoming tactical shooter Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising--the sequel to the well-received 2001 game Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis--the English developer is aiming to give you the freedom that goes with 220 square kilometers of outdoor terrain while still keeping true to the series' origins as an authentic portrayal of war. The last time we saw the game was during a visit to Codemasters' studios last August, but yesterday we had a chance to check out an updated build and get our first hands-on time with it.

As we described in our last look at Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, the story is driven by a fictional conflict between China and the US. China has invaded an oil-rich island off the eastern coast of Russia following a global economic meltdown, and now US marines have been sent in to forcefully drive out the Chinese. As with most shooters, the story is primarily a vehicle for explaining the setting--and that setting is what you'll really want to pay attention to. The island where the game takes place is called Skira, a 220-square-kilometer collection of mountains, grassy hills, and wet marshland that Codemasters claims would take a good three hours to walk from end to end. So yes, it's big, and that open terrain should amount to a nice, expansive sandbox for approaching each mission in a variety of ways.

Skira has a lot of room to explore by land, air, or sea.

The mission we got to try involved clearing out Chinese forces that had taken up camp in a small coastal fishing village. The mission begins with you and three of your fellow marines standing near the top of a rolling hill leading down to the village. There's a heavily patrolled road on the left-hand side of the hill that leads down to the village entrance where we were likely to be greeted by turret guns and angry guards. So instead of taking that path, we braved the right-hand side of the hill: a much steeper drop that offered lots of trees and rocks to use as cover.

How you approach the enemy base is a critical part of the mission, because with a realistic damage model where one-hit kills aren't entirely unheard of, you and your squad need to work as a tight team. The way you do that is by getting acquainted with the Quick Command radial menu. This pulls up a circular menu that controls, among other things, your various squad commands. You can order them to stay put, to follow you, to fire at will or only after your lead, and to assemble into various tactical formations. We pushed our way down the cliff using suppressing fire to distract the enemy forces, and then we dashed through clearings when the gunfire stopped. Eventually we made it to the village at the bottom, where the long-range tactics gave way to close-quarters combat.

Whereas the long-range firefights are like a chess game of planned advances and temporary retreats, close scuffles take on a bit of a different feel. We used the Xbox 360 controller, and the game controlled like a slower-paced Call of Duty--no sticky cover system, pull L to look down the iron sights--but with an added layer of tension provided by the jumpy camera movements and a blurrier line between dead and wounded enemies. In fact, what you might perceive as a dead body could actually be an enemy bleeding out while crawling to safety--or getting back on his feet to fire one last shot at you.

With 47-plus vehicles in the game, this mission could have easily been approached by air, water, or fully loaded jeep. But even without the aid of vehicles, we could have taken a much more bombastic approach to this mission using the aid of air strikes, M16-mounted grenade launchers, and a more aggressive group formation. The folks from Codemasters guiding us through the game were keen to stress that each attempt will play out differently, even if you attempt the same tactic twice in a row. That seems true, but considering the long, drawn-out missions that require patience and planning, you'll want to make sure you succeed the first time around.

Plan your approach carefully.

We're interested to see what the rest of the island looks like and how much the varying terrain will affect the course of each battle. We'll likely have the chance to do that before Operation: Flashpoint is released this summer. You can expect to see it arrive on the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.

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133 comments
Ufmo
Ufmo

Come on ghagus it's just a game. Besides who would really want to kill Chinese national PLAs, they are free loving, caring humane people just like the calibration they put on in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and how well they treat the monks as they travel to their holy land annually. Watch this wonderful Chinese domestic policy in action http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKA-W44FyF4

NoseWeed619
NoseWeed619

Yeah. I agree with Dr_7. This does remind me of Far Cry 2, just because you have to plan out your mission somewhat carefully. It sounds like in this game though, you'll have to do just a bit more planning than in Far Cry 2, but the same concept nevertheless.

ghagus
ghagus

As Chinese American I am boycotting this game, the studio and developer.

Dr_7
Dr_7

Does this remind anyone of Farcry 2?

Temujin_basic
Temujin_basic

Is this game developed by Bohemia Interactive btw?

Temujin_basic
Temujin_basic

I'm worried everytime a game is planned to launch on various platforms.

Baramos6
Baramos6

Probably, I think they already confirmed one where you go a mission without firing. I guess you either knife your way through the mission or get your squad to do all the work. Wouldn't be surprised if there's one for not dying. All though it would be much more of an achievement if you had to go through a whole campaign without dying. That would be worth 100 points.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

I would'nt be suprised to see the following achievement: Iron Man = 100 points (completing a mission without being killed) : )

Baramos6
Baramos6

@ thenephariouson I totally agree, it is a different experience. Call of Duty is more for a general audience, i mean in the Original O.F. practically one hit and your down. No one can deny that CoD has a great buzz, but in terms of realism, this game kicks it's ass. We don't see many realistic military first-person simulation these days. From this preview it does sound exactly like the old Flashpoint. Now for my fellow achievement lovers, let's hope for some good achievements.

Lauddat
Lauddat

looks immense, just really pissed theres no map editor for consoles

gamescottsman
gamescottsman

I'm worried now that this game might turn out naff

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

@ Baramos6 Fair enough regarding my COD comment, what i meant to convey is that although a great game, COD4 is simply a completely different experience.

Baramos6
Baramos6

@ thenephariouson Damn right, Operation Flashpoint: Cold War crisis was to most intuitive game of it's time. While I have to disagree with you about the run and gun statement,(I enjoy CoD) I agree with everything else you said in that statement below. I have doubts they will dumb this down; it sounds like it will be exactly like the previous one with a graphics upgrade and newer missions. With next-gen hardware, who knows what else wil be added, but be warned arcade shooter players, run and gun? You will die. Think of this as Hardcore search and Destroy on Cod4 Modern warfare, in a single player setting. Even that is too kind... :) Thank you codemasters!

Narel85
Narel85

"I really cant wait for this, i just hope it stays true to the original e.g. get blown to the ground by a grenade then having to CRAWL to the nearest medic, varying degrees of blurred vision and motion when hit by NON-FATAL bullets (which is quite rare seeing as its mainly 1 shot kill). In short i just hope they keep it realistic and dont 'DUMB IT DOWN' for the COD / HALO fraternity. The original was one of the most underated FPS's of all time, and way ahead of its time. Cant Wait." I agree with you. I've tried a lot of the shooters, and i couldn't enjoy any except GRAW 2. CoD and Bad Company are dumb-down games. I don't find it fun to waste an entire clip on someone (yes I'm hitting them) only to have them turn around and kill you. One-shot kill should be the standard for a shooters.

Mike0193
Mike0193

never played the first.... is it online multiplayer too? looks awesome ! XD

boyd803
boyd803

im looking foward for this great game

Springs12118
Springs12118

That looks neat!! I would prefer voice controls as in NAVY SEALS or EndWar for the squad control. Now, in June they are going to release Battlefield 1943 (opening the skies with the old WWII planes, wohoo!!) and Bad Company 2 at the end of the year, I wonder how to squeeze this one into the schedule :-D I'm reasonable pilot on HAWX but the stupid helicopters in BF Bad Company - I simply cannot handle them apart from SP mode..let see if we can fly these thingys or if it's going to be the GRAW approach with location directions only - suits me just fine! I'm also very glad to read that they'll have a story coop mode, that's what I LOVE about RSV1&2 - sometimes it's nice to simply shoot some AI and not have to fight 14 yr old kiddos with stupid comments (if you played CoD4 or 5 you know what I mean.. I don't need that virtual trash talk)

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

Sounds pretty neat. I was hoping for something like graw like thenephariouson but I'll differently check this game out when it gets out in stores.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

@surfshark, I prefer tactical FPS's (R6 1&2, GRAW etc), you know, games that actually make you think (something you possibly find quite difficult judging by your previous post), so when i said "Dumb it Down" i was simply refering to the plethora of run-n-gun shooters that are available whereby avoiding being hit is simply a case of jumping all over the place. As for COD4, i loved the SP campaign, however the MP although technically very good simply isnt for me, this is simply my opinion in the same way that that dribble you previously posted is yours!

surfshark
surfshark

thenephariouson Posted Apr 18, 2009 1:16 pm PT I really cant wait for this, i just hope it stays true to the original e.g. get blown to the ground by a grenade then having to CRAWL to the nearest medic, varying degrees of blurred vision and motion when hit by NON-FATAL bullets (which is quite rare seeing as its mainly 1 shot kill). In short i just hope they keep it realistic and dont 'DUMB IT DOWN' for the COD / HALO fraternity. The original was one of the most underated FPS's of all time, and way ahead of its time. Cant Wait. You say dumb it down like you've been waiting patiently for your true FPS to come back. While others had and have much fun with COD. You will not find a better multiplayer shooter now. So go on and act like you're above everything. What were you playing? Since Cod and Halo is sooo beneath you. Wank

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

The original was probably one of the most under-rated military FPS's of all time, it was so ahead of its time regarding the realism aspects e.g. varying degrees of motion blur, wobbling & aiming inacuracy when shot, getting blown to the floor by a 'Close proximity' grenade then having to CRAWL to a medic, add to this 1 shot kills, being able to 'Stash' your weapons in containers / vehcles etc, it was simply way ahead of its time, this is evident in the fact that newer 'wannabe' military FPS's *cough Faliuja cough* now claim to be 'Ultra-Realistic', well im sorry but OF2 will totally dominate the 'Realistic' FPS genre. My only hope is that Codemasters dont 'Dumb Down' the gameplay for the usual COD & Halo faithfull. @Mokov, Did you also know that in addition to accurately recreating all the weapons & vehicles, they have even gone to the trouble of accurately modelling bullet casings and grenades. I also simply cant wait for this.

Mokov
Mokov

Here's some info. for you people. People have been debating on whether it comes out on May.26, or September 1st. Well, the new news is September 1st. The developers have been getting complaints there is no mission maker for the console, so they are listening to the people and doing so. Info: For console 16 player multiplayer. With 4 game modes.with 2-4 player CO-OP For P.C. 32 multiplayer with an 8 player co-op drop in drop out. As you proceed through your ranks, different weapons, gun attachments, and privileges will be givin. Eg. an Airstrike. In the Multiplayer over 264 A.I. players are playing with you, including still you personal squad. This game will have over 70 weapons with various gun attachments, from butt stocks to silencers. About 50 vehicles, from Helicopters, to Tanks, to transport vehicles, to Boats, to civilian cars. The map is over 200 km of space to explore. Depending on where you get shot, you must crawl to you medic, they do not have any further information on how the medic will heal you. They have the day/night system, dynamic with a dynamic weather system. The A.I. system will have over 100's of different A.I, character models, each with it's own voice, both Male and Female. If you fail a mission, your A.I. enemy will change it's strategy, and it's field of play. Now I'm not a PC fan boy rambling on about how much better it is, I'm actually a console player. Waiting for this game to release has been torturing me, Codemaster has been working on this for 9 years so far... It's bound to be good. Your welcome.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Baramos6
Baramos6

If this as good and challenging as the first then it should definitely be good.

rtswiz
rtswiz

This is the direction games should be going...Forward

norac345
norac345

If I remember correctly, there's no health regen in this game. No "superpowers" like ability to get shot multiple times and still perform. No health pick-up's. Not sure if there was a medic though. Bullet damage was realistic. Get shot in the leg, you cant walk. Get shot in the arm, can't shoot. Get shot in the head, oh well. If they keep this level of realism it could be good and bad. The good being that this could be the game that kills the run and gun "Rambo" mentality that overwhelmingly owns the current FPS experience. And the bad is it's obvious this style of game play could detract a huge percentage of their target audience. This would be new territory for consoles. And for that, I'm skeptical. Big-Wigs normally don't like to take risks on their dollars. All in all though, I hope they do it. As gamers mature so do their tastes. As gamers, we need this for nothing more than progress. I think I'm gonna reinstall the old games just to reminisce.

Slinky_Turtle
Slinky_Turtle

@analog999 What would be the poing of a cover system on a game like this. It's meant to be as realistic as possible and require people to use tactics. not have people blind firing to get kills the entire game.

Deluhathol
Deluhathol

Glad this is getting released soon; I've been itching to get my hands on a properly realistic T-FPS for SO LONG. If they screw this game up, I don't know what I'll do... And as a side note to all the ArmA fan boys, while the devs have most of the ideas right, the execution is just rubbish. The AI is nearly completely broken, it runs terribly, and the list of negatives just goes on and on. I am not getting my hopes up for ArmA 2 due to the flop of ArmA 1; however, I will give it a chance when it comes out, same as I will give a chance to this game. That is all.

Duke_51
Duke_51

May 26?! I hope to god they finish it by then... this looks awesome!

analog999
analog999

Please please please bring a cover system into the mix.

tevic
tevic

Are there real posts on this thread ? (aside from the paid men of OFP and Arma) Hello ??? I feel alone !!!

dmcla6
dmcla6

the best game, anyone finds out when its released in aus drop me a line.

jagcivtec
jagcivtec

Oh yes, I highly anticipate this one. The original game was fantastic on PC and original Xbox a few years later. Theres just something about realistic military sims I love.

The-games
The-games

I too would like to hear more about the multiplayer. But still a sure buy for me!

p-trixtr
p-trixtr

I just hope that the graphics aren't like oblivion. Where it looks good up close but in the distant its really bad. Also OPF was best on pc, I hope that the controls in OPF2 are easy enough for the X360 controller.

Slinky_Turtle
Slinky_Turtle

This is a definite buy for me. I loved the first one so i'm definitely getting this one. I'd still like to hear more about what they're doing with the multiplayer on the game though.

datniccah187
datniccah187

I don't know this game looks kind of suspect. Hopefully i will be proven wrong.

-barker-
-barker-

YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

scottyb825
scottyb825

I loved the Operation Flashpoint from 2001 but what really made that game was the mission editors and great mod community. I think this game would be best on PC but unfortunately I have a rather crappy PC as of right now.

afrosud12
afrosud12

finally, a shooter for fans of games where you have to think before running into a crossfire, and respawn right before the crossfire 100 times until you get it right

airguitargiles
airguitargiles

I want to know what jets you can fly.. if you can, should be able to, 47 different vehicals of land, air and sea... Can't wait.

mtbrdude87
mtbrdude87

The original operation flashpoint was great, aside from some glitches. Certainly the most realistic milsim out there. Shot in the leg? Oh now you gotta crawl or limp. Arm blown off? Ouch! Can't aim well anymore.

simonsworld
simonsworld

it been awhile old master, it better on the pc on a visual level, most probs online have more players per server etc, the old game was a pc made affair, i hope it works and plays well on the xbox, my px couldnt hande this ram whore.

__MuLder__
__MuLder__

"Yakuz-A Posted Feb 21, 2009 12:50 pm GMT __MuLder__, you are so wrong dude, if you want a proper military simulation look at ArmA1 and ArmA2. This game isn't being made by any people involved in the original games, they're only milking the name of the title. The game that was ORIGINALLY Operation Flashpoint 2, before the fallout of relations between BIS(The devs) and Codemasters(the PUBLISHERS), is now called ArmA 2, and is scheduled for both the PC and XB360. It is a lot more sim than this game looks to be. Posted Feb 21, 2009 12:52 pm GMT I repeat it again in caps. THE PEOPLE MAKING THIS GAME WERE NOT IN ANY WAY INVOLVED IN MAKING THE ORIGINAL OPERATION FLASHPOINT, NOR IT'S EXPANSION, NOR IT'S XB1 PORT. True fans of the originals should buy ArmA2 when it comes out seeing as it's more true to the series spirit. Whereas this game looks like a semi-sim, ArmA2 looks like a true sim. Also remember, whereas Codemasters are a game company, BIS, the devs of the original OFP, make a huge amount of cash selling VBS(REAL hardcore military sims based off OFP and ArmA engines) to amongst others, the USMC, the Australian army, and more. So if you want a TRUE military sim, ArmA2 is the only way to go." END OF YAKUZ COMMENT/S Yakuz..... You couldn't be more wrong.... OP1, the expansions, and the pc port were all published by codemasters.....which means that they had a big role in the overall creation of the games, contradicting what you said. I also mentioned arma 1 and arma 2 as being true military simulations....something you decided to correct me on....but also agreed with me? and I believe my comment was also skeptical about OP2 being a military simulation, but stating that it was far different COD and games of that nature was something I felt I had to point out. So far, we don't have to much gameplay of OP2 but as far as I'm concered, the main differences in the games is that OP2 does not use VBS. Both are on huge islands, both have realworld weapons, vehicals and other real aspecs. Both are very similiar and are direct competitors for a reason. I for one am pulling for Arma II, but lets not dismiss OP2 without a proper look. We havn't been able to play them, so in this case....try not to judge a book by it's cover, they could just as easily mess up Arma II as they could OP2

wolf0
wolf0

looks like a COD/BF BC mix might be good but Codemasters made TURNING POINT FALL OF LIBERTY and we know what that was like