Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
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|Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising|
|Genre(s)||Tactical shooter, military simulation|
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is a military simulation video game for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 developed by British game developer Codemasters. Codemasters has advertised the game as a tactical shooter designed to represent modern infantry combat realistically. It is a stand-alone sequel to Bohemia Interactive's Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis, but was developed entirely by Codemasters due to a falling-out between the two companies.
Dragon Rising takes place on the fictional island of Skira, in May 2011. After the Global Economic Crisis causes mass unemployment and political destabilization in China, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) seize control of Skira and the vast, newly discovered reservoir of oil there, from the Russian Federation. Peace talks prove useless as both combatants lay claim to Skira due to previous ownership of it. The situation deteriorates quickly and China begins to fortify its northern provinces in anticipation of armed conflict with Russia. Russia, already countering the PLA on the Chinese mainland, calls to the United States to retake Skira from the Chinese. Bound by treaty arrangements made after the end of the Cold War, America agrees and the two biggest armies in the world begin to clash on the island. As the game progresses, the player must fight off enemy forces along with his fireteam and allied soldiers, for example, this could be assaulting a village held by the PLA, suppressing a team pinning down your fellow soldiers, or rescuing downed crews of crashed helicopters from behind enemy lines.
The real-world island of Kiska (on which the in-game island of Skira is directly based) is located on the western end of the Aleutian Islands, Alaska and was involved in WWII. It was at one point liberated by US and Canadian forces after capture by Japanese forces. The developers have aimed to copy the 277.698 km2 (107.220 sq mi) accurately to give players a sandbox composed of natural terrain, instead of artificially designed or procedurally generated terrain.
Skira is a volcanic island with a variety of terrain. At one end is a stratovolcano, 8.5 by 6.4 km (5.3 by 4.0 mi) in diameter at its base and 1,221 m (4,006 ft) high, and at the base of the volcano is a section of low lake lands. A ridge of 1,000+ foot mountains runs down one side of the western portion of the island while the other side is generally flatter with numerous lakes and small waterways.
Skira is sparsely populated with some towns and more isolated houses and settlements. An interview with developers suggested that the civilians have all been evacuated ahead of the arrival of US forces.
Dragon Rising also features a multiplayer mode. In storyline co-op mode, up to four human players can play through the single player campaign together, each human player replacing a computer-controlled character. The player versus player multiplayer includes four maps to choose from on the disk. There are also the pure multiplayer modes Annihilation and Infiltration, with more multiplayer modes promised for after the release of the main game. The game does not feature dedicated servers, and the official servers are still online though sources claim otherwise.
Weapons, vehicles and characters
According to Game Informer, there are over 70 weapons in game, all supported by a realistic ballistics system, although most are not readily accessible to the player. The weapons available range from pistols and submachine guns to artillery and large bombs. Depending on the current mission, they are equipped with optics, grenade launchers, laser sights or suppressors. The ballistics system, which simulates the effects of each weapon on buildings, vehicles, and people, is based as much as possible on the real specifications of each weapon (information on Chinese PLA weapons and vehicles is limited in some cases) and also takes into account flight times and effective ranges for each projectile. The balance of the weapons was not arbitrarily created by the game developers, but was based on information provided by real life weapons designers. Learning the best usage of each of these weapons was intended to be a significant part of the challenge of the game.
A list of weapons was published by GameSpot. Reloading a weapon, placing it to the shoulder, and other combat animations have been motion captured using soldiers who have been trained to use the equipment in real life.
There are 50 different land, air, and sea vehicles, including helicopters, tanks, boats and APCs along with a few vehicles and weapons which cannot be used directly, but which can be called on in a support role, such as fighter jets and artillery. Most of the vehicles are not accessible to the player outside of the PC mission editor.
The developers have created large numbers of faces for the characters involved in the game. The equipment that is carried by each character is accurate and, where applicable, distinct to that character's role. For example, communication specialists can be readily identified by the radio they carry. Everything the player's squad members are carrying is visible. All of this visible information is designed to allow better command of the squad mates as the player will be able to recognize them as a person by their face or by their equipment allowing them to give the best orders to each member of the squad.
2nd Lieutenant Mulholland is the leader of a fireteam in Sabre 2 unit. He usually carries a FN SCAR-L. He has three men in his team: Corporal Knox, the SAW gunner, Corporal Morales, the medic and Corporal Winters, the engineer.
Sergeant Hunter is the leader of Dagger 1 Bravo fireteam. He mostly carries a M16A4 or M4A1. He has three men under his control: Lance Corporal Briggs, the engineer/anti-tank specialist, Private First Class Avery, the medic and Private First Class Jedburgh, the SAW gunner.
Difficulty levels are differentiated by the visual information given to the player. At the easiest level, standard FPS information is given to the player about weapons, ammunition, squad health, and compass direction via a HUD. Additionally the location of enemies who have been spotted by the player's squad is indicated at the lowest level. Higher levels of difficulty remove this information until none is left on screen. Ammunition must be remembered as well as the health of the squad. Locations of enemies must be determined by listening to AI squad mates and using other visual cues like the direction they are firing. At high difficulties visual effects become more important, particularly at long range where smoke or dust can help to identify areas which are dangerous. At any difficulty level the player may be killed by a single shot. The highest difficulty removes the game's checkpoint system entirely, meaning death results in starting the level again.
In addition to its standard campaign and modes, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising has seven bonus missions that can be unlocked by using codes. Currently, codes to unlock two missions (Encampment, Debris Field) can be obtained through the Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising Recruit website. The remaining five unlock codes were received by pre-order customers.
The game has a terrain draw distance of 35 kilometres, with vehicles, soldiers and other objects being culled from render at approximately 1600m. Fire, smoke and dust are simulated based on the effects of each weapon. A 2,000-pound bomb will throw up dust which will make it difficult to see, and fires will burn for some time.
Although there is a day and night cycle, along with weather conditions, rain will not be included.
Dragon Rising uses a version of Codemasters' EGO Engine, shared with a number of Codemasters' racing games. The engine has been designed to support Dragon Rising's wide, open spaces and 35 km (22 mi) draw distances.
The game features both night vision and thermal imaging effects, real-time weather, lighting and shadow effects, 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound support. Other effects include realistic ballistics and limb dismemberment. Weapon attachments, a medic system, and swimming are also featured.
The PC version of the game has a mission editor, which allows players to create their own missions for single player, multiplayer and cooperative game modes. The editor is real time, meaning no pre-render of the work is needed, users press a key and can drop into the mission 'live' to test out or play. The editor supports many features including time of day, visual effects, dynamic weather and Lua scripting.
The main release of Dragon Rising was followed by two downloadable content expansion packs, both containing multiplayer game modes. "Skirmish" was released on November 5, 2009 for the PC, with Xbox 360 and PS3 versions following at later dates.
On February 16, 2010, Codemasters Community Manager 'Helios' announced that development of Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising content had ceased.
Bit-tech described it as "a schizophrenic design built over a bland world" and described the environment as "an imagination wasteland".
GameSpot said "This tactical military shooter delivers tense and engaging action, competently completing its objective in the face of AI blunders and occasional bugs." However, GameSpot did note the generally intelligent AI enemies and allies alike, saying that the squadmates are "more of an asset than a liability", and that the enemies make you "feel threatened," and are like "battle-hardened, intelligent soldiers."
IGN described the game as unique, fun, and challenging, but unpolished. Despite "consistent issues due to weak AI," they said the AI was decent, and "not awful." Praise was also given to the details and graphics of the PC version.
However, some reviewers found that the game "lacked polish," and that despite many finding that they "wanted to like it," it simply did not live up to expectations. IGN stated that the game should not have been released on consoles as it feels and plays like a PC-only experience.
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