Wednesday, 31 March 2010 02:00
Back in 2001, Codemasters released the original Operation Flashpoint, a game held in high regard and seen as a turning point in the progression of military simulation games. Before it arrived, gamers were besotted with the likes of the Tom Clancy Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six games, but OpFlash, as fans refer to it, was the most realistic yet.Thanks to some game developer politics, the guys behind the original OpFlash moved on and started a separate, PC-only franchise called Armed Assault. It`s gone on to be so realistic that the US military uses a variant of the game as a training tool for soldiers. This left Codemasters, the publisher of the original, with the mammoth task of following in the footsteps of the original with none of the expertise from the original.
To that end, Dragon Rising is a huge accomplishment. It feels similar to the first game, with many tweaked play mechanics. This is no Call of Duty or Modern Warfare, though. If you`re spotted, you`re almost guaranteed a quick death. There are no med packs and no second chances - if you die, you start over.
And this is a pity, because despite its engrossing realism, it will punish you for things that aren`t even your fault. The artificial intelligence - whether enemy soldiers or team mates - get caught doing silly things, like exposing themselves to bullets, getting stuck in doorways or just straight disobeying orders. The best way to circumvent this is by playing the game in co-op mode, with three friends, which presents the challenge of convincing three friends that this hardcore military sim is going to be fun. Chances are, they`ll want to stick to Modern Warfare 2 or Gears of War 2. Which is a pity, because Dragon Rising is a good game, and can be enjoyed despite its flaws (most of which have been fixed via a downloadable patch). The hardcore community will live on through the PC version, though, while the console iterations will probably fade into obscurity.
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