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Old 10-26-2009, 09:57 AM   #1
Strawbs123
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Is total realism too much?

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising

HIGH: Loosing all inabitions and for a split second truly believing that i am part of an elite recon team.

LOW: Receiving a perfect headshot from one mile away through what can only be described as sheer bad luck, then having to restart the entire twenty minute level section.

WTF: Running frantically around a BMP2, realising i have no satchel charges left and yet contiunally doing this for the next ten minutes trying to decide my next move before the AI finally achieves a bright idea and decides to reverse away, then shoot me.

The grass brushes gently against my rough skin as tracers whizz throughout the night sky. I desperately cling to the large oak tree for cover as the enemy locks my position. I twist cap on the end of my scope and use the thermal visin emitted to take out the AT team that are hammering our armoured back up, then i remind myself that this is a videogame, and not reality.

In 2001 Bohemia interactive showed us all that realism can have a place in the VG industry. With it's ridiculously steep learning curve, this experience was not for the faint hearted. It was the strong few of us, determined not to be beaten that saw it through to the end, and an even smaller group who went on to purchase the add on packs. For those determined enough to see it through, the game was very rewarding, although it didn't offer any appraisal it did however give you a warm fuzzy feeling, just knowing that you managed to see it through to the climax.

Fast forward. bohemia and Codemasters split. Bohemia took the engine and Codemasters took the title rights. Bohemia then created a series of Combat simulators, ARMA and ARMA2 which were shoddy at best. Both were utterly filled with game breaking glitches, it looked like Bohemia had bitten of more than they could chew, the franchise was just far to ambitious. ARMA 2 was especially irritating, it suffered so many memory leaks it eventually crashed my PC. It looked like without Codemasters fuding their designs, they hadn't a real idea of how to create a truly masterful combat simulator.

Everyone waited patiently to see whether Codemasters would take up the name again. they had to have taken the Flashpoint name for a reason.
Then it happened, the first teaser appeared at the E3 expo showing soldiers battered inside a withered old chapel. The name struck the screen and everyone gasped, it was coming.

Dragon rising is set on the fictional 220 Km island of Skira during a long running conflict between the Russians and the Chinese over ownership of the oil rich island. You play a list of several different characters, all part of the USMC who agree to help the Russians and try to cease a full scale conflict.
Let me first say that this game is utterly beautiful. Long grass all of which is textured and coloured with multiple layers flaps gently in the wind, trees swing from side to side and sometimes even whistle. Tracers physically dent the ground throwing soil into the air, real time weather and time effects ensure immaculate realism. You really have to see it to believe it but every aesthetic in the game immerses you and leaves you in shock.

The mission plotting is enjoyable but don't expect to be the one man army pushing the communist threat back into the sea. Like a real conflict your job as a recon squad is many small missions culminating in a larger plot so you guanratee that you will have to take out an AT squad or take on a gun emplacement on numerous occasions. The experience is made up of many small skirmishes. It takes away the Rambo complex and puts you in as a peice of a bigger puzzle.

The Ego engine is as good as it was hyped to be. Bullets have ingame physics rather than just being a response mechanism, all terrain in game can either be detrimental or a benefit to your mission. The house you were hiding behind to direct artillery fire, is now gone and you are left with your pants down it an open field. The Ego engine is fantastic but like any innovation it has it's flaws. As it boasts absolute realism it means that a lot of the time whilst playing you will die, simply because you accidentally walked into a stray bullet fired from the next town over, and it becomes increasigly frustrating when you turn the tide of a battle that has been in planning for hours, only to be killed by an accidental shot to the stomach.

The learning curve is a bit unpredictable. The first level isn't particularly challenging, destroying a radar dish and taking a mortar position then extraction by helicopter, that's if you ignore the copious side missions. Overall it isn't much of a challenge. Suddenly the second level approaches and you find yourself fighting at night, running for your life from a squad of angry chinese rifleman and an MI24 attack helicopter, it hardly seems fair. This continues from here, sometimes you'll grace a level with very little difficulty. Other times you'll smash your hand against the desk swear at the top of your lungs and vow never to play it again.

Codemasters took the original Flashpoint and did exactly what they promised, they created an experience almost three times as enjoyable as the original. It has been dumbed down but only slightly, to appeal to a wider demographic. The squad based movement is far easier to negotiate, with a directional reticle system, you just tap the direction on the squad options to select an order. Fire, suppress, movement, cover, everything needed is there. The game has a sligthly more high budget feel to it. The explosions and tracers make it feel like a movie but the low key missions and difficulty make it it feel like reality. There is a huge array of weapons and vehicles that have been taken from the the current conflicts and global armies to date. And even if you find the game almost impossible to finish and you begin to hate yourself for enjoying it, you'll always come back for more.

Although total realism is too much for most gamers to handle and you couldn't ever expect any first time console owner (the WII) to pick it up and become unbeatable at it, it does have it's benefits. For those who can stick it out, it can provide some of the best hours of VG play time, totally immersing you in another world. Codemasters have created a gem here because it is the perfect middle ground. It appeals to the hardcore Milsim fans with its intense and gritty difficulty and real time combat situations but the control system is intutive and the game always gives you options for evading tricky situations.
Codemasters have created a door way for the more casual gamers to try their hand at Milsim. The only question that remains is: will it be able to compete with Modern Warefare 2, and i truly believe it will.

Last edited by Strawbs123; 10-26-2009 at 10:05 AM.
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Old 10-26-2009, 10:37 AM   #2
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Re: Is total realism too much?

the heading for this thread is "Is total realism too much?"

You go on about the frustrations of Op Flash, simultaneously praising it, and then conclude the review with a quick potential comparison (which I don't think can be drawn considering how different the games are) with Modern Warfare 2. But you don't answer your own question...

I like the review, but the argument is not fully developed. A combat simulator is not in fact "total realism," but even if this were so, you don't really delve into what I thought was going to be the crux of the review. And I can't really fathom a vague answer, as if the review without answering the question does so indirectly (this due again to the simultaneous frustration/pleasure issue, that is interesting but not clear enough in my opinion).

From what I've seen of the game (watched my brother play a few missions), I find it very intense, and the fact that an entire mission can consist of following a unit of enemies from open terrain 2 km or so all the way to their base camp, constantly with the temptation of opening fire on them at your fingertips, only to call in an air strike on their position, utterly fascinating. Reminiscent of Desert Storm (the desire to personally kill thwarted by technological devices, which then really makes you aware of what your training turns you into), the game drives your patience in a way most if not all?? other military FPS do not. Like you said this definitely appeals to the hardcore in a gamer, not the casual.

I can see how catching a stray bullet from a km away might be frustrating, but so long as it's not happening all the time (my brother never complained of such consistent randomness), that's a possibility any soldier faces. And in a combat simulator, I don't mind that possibility being implemented.
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Old 10-26-2009, 10:51 AM   #3
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Re: Is total realism too much?

Thanks very much for your advice, this is my first review so i am quite new, i will make some adjustsments to it

Kind Regards
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Old 10-26-2009, 10:53 AM   #4
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Re: Is total realism too much?

Also what do you feel is missing from this review and in which areas is it too vague etc

it would be a great benefit to understand what needs to be changed
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Old 10-26-2009, 02:59 PM   #5
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Re: Is total realism too much?

1) you don't need to go into so much detail about the past of the company etc... , keep it to a paragraph, just enough to set up your thesis.

2) the rest of the review reads as a laundry list. The title of your review was "Is total realism to much." Your opening paragraph supported it really well. Now the rest of the review should support it as well. In other words, make your question about total realism the thesis of the review.

3) don't use second person. Instead of using "you," use words like "the player" and "I."
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Old 10-26-2009, 03:05 PM   #6
Strawbs123
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Re: Is total realism too much?

Thanks for your help mate,

Will keep that in mind for my next review

Cheers.
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