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Operation Flashpoint : Dragon Rising
“Closer to war than you want to be”- Codemasters once again sets on ultra-realism
Already in the beginning, Brant Nicholas, leading producer, lets no doubts on the authenticity of his recent project: “Prepare yourself for an again intensive experience in which every shot can be fatal. Operation Flashpoint : Dragon Rising brings you closer to war than you want to be!“
Its early march and we sit together with other European press members in one of the meeting rooms of Codemasters in Warwickshire, one hour away from the British capital. On the table before us: Numerously plastic replicas of diverse assault guns, bullet shells of every calibre and several hand grenade dummies. The weapon arsenal shows the developers did their homework.
The most important facts of the game – brought by video projector on screen – read not less impressing. There is talk of a “close-to-life combat experience”, of the “most accessible, haunting and compelling sandbox-wargame up to date” and “the biggest military toybox ever”. Big marketing words, of which substance we will convince ourselves later on.
Location change! Operation Flashpoint carries off the player onto the 220 km² island Skira belonging to the Russian Federation. Because of gigantic oil reservoires the island stands on the edge to war. As one division of the PLA marches in the USA begin their retaliation against the occupying forces with the objective to solve the conflict before the superpowers drift into a global crisis.
The campaign can be played out of two perspectives: on the one hand being an infantrymen fighting the frontline with much support through own troops. On the other hand you slide into the camo of a SpecOps elite soldier and operate behind enemy lines.
On the battleground the approach is totally up to you. In this huge game world, 50 vehicles, more than 70 up to date weapons and equipment, a realistic day night cycle, dynamic weather effects and an alleged fireteam your possibilities should be nearly infinite. But its a fact: Wannabe Rambos that set their team mates aside on the insertion point and head out as lone wolf will bite the dust faster than they can release their safety catch of their rattle. On the contrary you should take advantage of natural coverage, neatly flank enemy positions and lay down barrage. Teamwork counts! Which is best managed through the 4-player-coop mode, the heart of the game how its called by the developers.
The artwork of Dragon Rising is followed recent and historical war documentaries and hollywood blockbusters like James Ryan or Blackhawk Down. From these films arose the color pale look [!] with the high brightness/darkness contrasts.
Additional audiovisual details we could get an idea of: The player is extremely dazzled [!] by the low sun, thick smoke darken the sky after heavy explosions for minutes, weapons [!] and vehicles get dirty in continuous service. Moreover the bullets hit the ground with a dull “FUMP” (spelled phoomd) before you hear the actual shot (if you hear it at all). And: the higher you climb in the mountains, the less the ambient sounds become.
Enough of grey theory, now its getting serious. We start a mission by ourselves, despite the PC version with a Microsoft gamepad. Our mission: Eliminate two enemy camps. We shortly orientate then head over a hill in coverage and spy out the first enemy base. We count four or five guards who already seem to be alarmed. A frontal attack would be suicide, so we order our team through the valley into the coverage of a rock at 9 o’clock.
How this works? Really simple! We aim with the reticle at the desired location active the context sensitive quick command menu. Shortly after that we receive a radio call informing us of our men having reached their position. We now aim at our enemy, press the command key again and give the order „curtain fire“. While our enemy is distracted, we can eliminate all “tangos” from our higher up position.
Further to camp number two. We head through dense forest. Suddenly bullet impacts all around us, we fling into the mud immediately. Deepest movement. Unfortunately we cannot identify the enemy. But the compass show their position roughly through three red dots. A gaming assist that can be deactivated, Nicholas says.
Not making progress through the quick command, we change to the map and command our team from this view. This functions nearly the same way. We “aim” at the red dots, the enemy, and choose “attack”. The guys get into heavy firefighting, some are wounded. Damn!
We charge too, but cannot recognize much in the twilight, so we switch on the low-light amplifier. There! Two enemies in the bushes. We pull the trigger, they go down. Suddenly multiple impacts, we are hit. Heavily wounded we drop into the grass and fire roughly at the direction the shots came from. The last tango heedlessly charges and runs directly into our hail of bullets. Mission accomplished. Although utterly narrow.
Our conclusion: Man, this is realistic! Just like we expect it from Operation Flashpoint.
The short probational mission unbelievably compelled me. Alas, this was a really small part of the game. Things like the ballistic model (even ricochets are fatal) and the command system worked really well, many other features were not included at all yet. Codemasters planned much… and still has much to do.
Interview with Brant Nicholas:
What is the advantage of the PC Version towards the console version?
On the one hand the mission editor, on the other hand there is a higher max player amount in online mode. 32 instead of 16 player. Additionally there are some more graphic options.
The AI shall be behaving differently in each mission. What can we expect in detail?
Even if you make the same moves twice, like a robot, the AI would react differently because of their routines. Like in American Football it can choose between three to five different „Plays“ that appear with different probability. So every mission plays differently in each try.
How does the reset and save system work?
In the campaign the player will be reset to the last safepoint he did activate after his screen death. Whoever wants to make it more difficult can play a mission without activating any safepoints. In the coop campaign the KIA players will be revived at the last safepoint.
Will the equipment have impact on the movement ability of the player?
Yes. The weight of the chosen weapons and equipment defines agility and stamina. Besides the chosen character class plays a role. SpecOps soldiers go through a distinctly tougher training than marines and therefore have better stamina. These kind of details we integrated!
Interview with Sion Lenton (executing producer)
Dragon Rising is completely on realism. Will the vehicles have limited fuel too?
No we have not gone so far. But thats really a cool idea. Indeed there is realistic damage like flat tires or defect motors which the player can and must fix. Furthermore we put emphasis on different vehicle handling. A fat hummers steering will be absolutely different from the one of a jeep or truck.
Will the game assist genre newcomers?
We have a multiple stage assist system – among others an aiming assistant and reduced hit damage. Furthermore there are separate tutorials. You can take heli lessons or practise with the javelin rocket launcher at any time.
Are there civilians on the island?
No. They all fled. Hehe.
Will the online games be regionally limited?
No, we will have worldwide servers.
How does the communication works online?
Via quick command you can give commands as quick as lightning. The voice chat follows the command chain. So only the squad leader can communicate with his inferior fireteam leaders directly. Just like in battle.
Text below Pictures:
Difficult. Aiming with ironsights needs steady hands.
Fireteam. You should appoint your guys wisely. Flanking maneuvers and curtain fires lay down pressure on the enemy in most cases.
In sight. You can not only control tanks, you also have to destroy some through rocket launcher. [The RPG picture]
Heli-controls. “Challenging but not impossible” is the motto of the developers.
Shouldered. Every weapon and piece of equipment is to be seen on the player models. There is no “magic pocket”.
Team-Info. The HUD on the upper left gives you info about the status of your comrades. Still all are well.
Vehicle fleet. 50 vehicles should bring much variety in the game.
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