First Level: Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising

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There I was, crouched and prepared to defend the LZ from the wave of combatants that were inbound. Poking my head round the side of my cover, I could see them advancing over the hill; I stepped out, let of a few rounds before my vision was obscured. Some sort of bright shining light blinded me, before a cloud of smoke totally clouded everything. My vision was blurred, something devastating had just happened, a teammate was down, it was too late for him. I remember him screaming out before he met his cruel fate, but I was still disoriented, I hadn’t a clue what had just happened, that was, until I turned around. The cabin that I was standing in, was now just half a cabin. The entire rear has been destroyed from an enemy rocket. It was that rocket, that flew past my head, close enough to blind me, but failing to hit me directly. This was the single most exhilarating moment so far.

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The colour washed out, a contrasting yellow provides a striking boldness over the stylised greyness of the moving imagery. The menu oozes that Codemasters quality; a system with class, gorgeous design and eloquent ease of use. The mixture of delicate harmonies mixed with some unusual throat singing, provides a truly epic opening score to gear you up for the engagement ahead. This is war. Not the annihilation experienced in Killzone, not the scripted nature of Call of Duty, just bone-shuddering combat. This is not for the faint hearted. I physically jumped twice at being flanked and shot in the back by the cunning enemy, and they are cunning. They will flank you, team up on you, call in support, whatever it takes to eliminate you.

The game is really focused around two things; first and foremost it is a shooter and as such the game works wonderfully. The controls are solid whilst being quite different, having the realism of a solider, but without that added weight of a double size armour suit. Picking enemies from range is testing, but when you finally get that killing blow it feels all the sweeter. The second is realism, which for the most part, it does extremely well. Mashing the reload button whenever I run low on ammo is a habit I need to kick, especially when engaged in close quarters as they will just pull out a pistol and take you down. The animation sequences are generally fantastic and really affect the way you need to think about combat. Health wise, there is no magic regenerating health or poorly disguarded medi-packs lying around, if you shot, you will bled out. Either by patching up your own wounds to stop the bleeding – which doesn’t actually heal you – or calling over the medic to do a proper job are the only ways to survive. However, if you’re running down a hill without a care in the world, expect to be shot in the head from a well placed sniper; and trust me, there’s no second chances when sniped in the head.

The game is not without its faults though. Not having a jump button may have freed it up for something else, but when you can still vault over a fence or a pile of sandbags with a quick click of the ‘action’ button and not traverse a slightly raised pile of rocks, something’s gone wrong. In such a vast and lush terrain, the frequency of getting stuck next to a pile of shin high rocks was frustratingly high. After a while you begin to just not go near them, but it feels more like a workaround bad design than anything else. The tactics menu halts all other functions yet insists you use the d-pad to select commands, which just adds unnecessary difficulty. For a game prided on the authenticity of the models and animations – which are superb – why is it, that when I enter a vehicle, I am not greeted by a first person view of a solider climbing into the Jeep, but a fade to black screen before magically appearing starting out of the front with my hands on the wheel.

Having played the first mission both single player and multiplayer, it’s a easy choice. This game was meant for co-op; playing single player is fine, but filling a squad with your mates is truly the way to play. Headsets are a must so don’t even try without, you will each need to call for help and inform the rest of your team what’s happening from your perspective to achieve the goals. A strong team leader, determined to utilize tactics makes it all the more simple for the remaining squad members to work effectively as a unit. Flashpoint impressed on its first outing, now lets see if it continues to do so.

Stay tuned to TheSixthAxis.

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