War. War is hell! And nothing portrays this better in a video game like having to replay the 30 minutes you just played through because you weren’t quick enough to spot an enemy sniper 2km’s away. Now this may sound bad but it’s not all bad news in this modern warfare simulation. So let’s load up, jump on the helo and enter the conflict zone of Skira.
The island of Skira (modelled on the real island of Kiska) has been in almost perpetual conflict for as long as anyone can remember. Huge amounts of untapped natural resources will do that to a country. The year is 2010 and the continual struggle between Russia and China over Skira has seen America step in to help their Russian allies. You play the part of various members of the insurgent US Marine Corps. HOO AH!
Now as a warfare simulation, lets just point out that one shot can kill you. And if you do manage to survive a gunshot wound then you better get a medic real quick. Without treatment you will quickly bleed out and die. Even with treatment there may potentially be damage to limbs making you unable to perform certain functions. And remember, find cover to carry out medical treatment. There is nothing worse than having a medic fixing you up, only for you, and the medic to get killed.
Fans of standard First Person Shooters will have to adjust quite considerably and show a fair amount of restraint and patience. Along with the realistic damage enemy fire does to you, you also have to conserve your ammunition to ensure you aren’t left assaulting the final objective with a sidearm and combat knife. Moving from cover to cover and ordering you squad to do the right thing is essential and is done via a contextual radial menu. You can also call on any available fire support options that you have available through a similar radial menu. Vehicle use is pretty basic but allows for some greater fire power and speedy traverses across the battlefield. I have to admit I preferred to be on foot due to the large number of AT weapons available to the Chinese. Also the inability to accurately hit individual enemy troops with a .50 cal made me want my scoped rifle on many occasion.
For a real slice of war you can up the difficulty to Hardcore which will remove all HUD items, markers and waypoints. Now you may think this is pretty extreme but after playing this way, I have to say it is now my setting of choice. Not only do you get a more absorbing visual perspective but you are also forced to actually stop an plan a route with your map. And the visuals are worth enjoying. OF: 2 Dragon Rising is a pretty good looking game with some great draw distance and persistent smoke and dust effects. Add in some really powerful sounding weapons and you have a really immersive game, until you die.
Death. This is where the first of three real problems shows up. Due to the nature of the game, you are often purposefully moving very slowly towards your objective. This may take a long time with several skirmishes along the way and with only intermittent checkpoint saves, generally after each objective is reached, it can be pretty damn frustrating to be killed after all the hard work of getting to the objective is done . Another big problem I found is the path finding of you squads AI. Several times I gave the ‘Follow Me’ command, to which my squad all acknowledged, only to find they have got stuck behind a log or in one case was swimming out to sea! So basically don’t go charging off without ensuring your team is actually following. The last problem I encountered is the inability to use foliage as cover effectively. Basically once the enemy are alerted to your presence there is no hiding. It’s like the whole Chinese Military has been issued heat sensing goggles. None of these problems have really destroyed the playability of OF:2 Dragon Rising but the lack of save points or even a manual save option has had me stop playing in some sessions after getting killed and finding I have to start again from a long way back.
As well as the Single Player Campaign there is the ability to unlock single Fire Team Engagement missions. The codes for these seem to be just available on the internet and aren’t rewards in game so for being a Buttonmasher fan, here are six codes (case sensitive): RaidT18Z, StrongM577, AmbushU454, CloseQ8M3, OFPWEB1, OFPWEB2. As expected there is a multitude of co-op and multiplayer options. If you manage to find a few buddies (I didn’t) I imagine this will be a fantastic co-op romp.
Overall Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising is a great change of pace from the standard FPS fare that is rife in this day and age. If you think you have the patience to work through to the objective and not go charging in guns blazing then this may well be a game for you. Just be aware that you can easily spend more time hiding, sneaking and flanking than actually pulling the trigger. A good selection of weapons and explosives make for some grand confrontations and having the vehicles at your disposal is nice. All in all, a good time, as long as you haven’t got ADHD.