Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Bullet In Your Head - OFP2 Dragon Rising

Spent a bit of time with the new military shooter from Codies, Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising, yesterday - so here are a few initial thoughts.

Slick presentation as you would expect from Codemasters. Brings to mind games like GRID but with a more military style and a great piece of music playing in the background. Stats are displayed on loading screens (as is the norm) and you can view tons and tons of different stats for your campaign in the Extras menu.

Graphics & Animation
Almost everything in the enviroments is a shade of Green, Brown or Grey, but the draw distance is good, textures look decent up-close and the whole thing zips along quite smoothly. Guns are rendered very well and smoke/bullet effects look excellent.

The animation of teammates and enemy soldiers in the first two missions I played through seemed well mo-capped. Not up to the standards of Uncharted but some nice touches. Sun glare and other weather effects add quite a bit of atmosphere. I particularly liked the way the sun seemed to rise in Mission 2. You start off with your Night Vision Goggles equipped, but after a few minutes you'll be able to spot the enemy without them.

Superb throughout, whether it is menu music, gun sounds or just ambient environment noise. If you have a surround sound/expensive set up I can imagine this to be one of the best sounding games ever. As it is, it still sounds ace coming through the tiny speakers on my Regza.

A mixed bag so far, but decent on the whole. Your teammates usually behave with intelligence and react well to changing and challenging situations. You can generally leave them alone and they won't do much wrong (they will die though - especially if you give them crap orders like me!).

Enemy AI is where I've noticed the game fall down a little. On the one hand, when sweeping forward down a hill to defend a SAM site for example (which is where I currently am), they are organised and deadly. It doesn't help that I've only got about 7 bullets left (you have to steal from dead enemies if you run dry) but they take up some great positions and constantly move around, trying to flank you and taking cover.

By way of contrast - At the end of the first mission I managed to get my hands on a rocket lanucher. Slowly creeping towards the helicopter pickup point, my squadmates spied some enemies guarding the position. 'No problem' I thought - bit of swift bazooka action and the heli will be able to land; except that after killing one guy with a rocket, his mates, stood less than 10metres away, decided to carry on looking in a different direction!

Thankfully I've not come across too many of these AI glitches for it to spoil the immersion and atmosphere that the rest of the game creates.

Mapped slightly differently than most will be used to with the default settings. They work well though, but be warned, there are quite a few different menus (one for orders, one for support like airstrikes, one for equipment, one for ammo type) mapped to different buttons and you won't find out how to use them all into well into the frst mission. You can always read the manual though.

In a word; Hard. You aren't given much of a tutorial (just some basic commands and controls during Mission 1). Within 3 minutes of my first go I was dead - shot repeatedly as I tried to take out a missle site without properly scouting the area. Lots of variety in mission objectives so far and the shooting mechanics seem solid and well realised. I've been invloved in several good firefights already and as already mentioned, I really enjoyed the fights at dawn on Mission 2.

The enemies are deadly, so if you don't scout out areas properly, or think you can stand on a rock and pick enemies off one-by-one, you'll swiftly find yourself in the morgue.

Checkpoints are well placed and you'll need them. Thankfully on normal your teammates will respawn whenever you pass through one. On hardcore mode you don't get the luxury of checkpoints or respawning teammates (or visual markers, or an ammo count!).

Reviews and reports say that this is the way to play the game. Not had chance to try it yet, but if I spy any other threespeechers playing the game I'll tap you up.

As you will probably have guessed, anyone expecting Unreal Tourney will be disappointed. Each mission requires a bit of brainpower and planning, and even then you'll still get suprised or ambushed and end up with your head blown off (yes you can target limbs, although this is fairly tricky to do usually as close quarters combat is so tense you'll just pull the trigger and hope).

Despite the AI glitches and long sections on foot as you progress to objectives, OFP2 is fun and challenging. It won't be everyone's cup to tea, but I have enjoyed it so far and have a feeling that Co-op will be a blast. For anyone wondering, I got mine for about £28 from Shopto.net.



  1. Nice review mate. Sounds like it's worth a look! (Not this week though as, check it out, Drake is in the post! With any luck me ol' Drakey will be here tomorrow - a couple of days early).

  2. @reakt

    Yeah, I too have UC2 on preorder so not sure how much time I'll get to spend with OFP2 for a few weeks. Still, it is the sort of game you can dip into without losing the narrative thread.

    Think my UC2 preorder is with Tesco so whilst they are usually good on price, they don't seem to rush games out like other companies. I reckon my copy will arrive Saturday or Monday. :(

  3. @pablo

    Yeah same here, dont expect mine to arrive til at least monday :(

  4. @JS

    It hurts less knowing that you will be suffering too. :)

    Still, I will do owt to save a few quid.

  5. I'm being an active gamer and popping into Oxford city centre to nab me a copy.

    I doubt it'll sell out.

    I hope......

  6. Oh and sorry pablo, excellent review you've written. Really good read!

    I loved the first OFP, being able to fly helicopters and trucks around the battle field was a new experience for me.

    The first problem I had with OFP2 is that now so many games have given you freedom. I just thought now, OFP2 is going to be a generic FPS. But sounds that from your review it could be something worth playing. I'm deffo considering a perchance.

    That’s if my wallet doesn’t stop biting my fingers!!

  7. It's good to hear that Code Masters are somewhat back to form with OFP2.

    After their apparently disastrous WWII game which saw America being invaded by the Nazis. Can't remember the name but I heard it was a complete disappointment.

  8. nice review Pablo, this game is on my list but has a few more in front of it yet before i get there.

    that shopto price has to be the best deal i've seen for it so far.

    remember, no movement with covering fire!!

  9. thx Pablo, think I'll hold off this one, I dont get much gamey time at the mo :(