Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising

OFP:DR is all about Marines fighting for a place no one saw fit to stay in. That sounds about right.

This one got a lot of snorts of derision. A lot of comes from the fact that it is a direct port of a console game, so the perception of its realism took a hit from the get-go. So much so, the PC version has a default profile for the Xbox 360 controller that is native to the game. You plug in a 360 controller and it doesn’t even ask you, it defaults to the use of a controller.

That doesn’t bother me. The inability to LEAN bothers me.

I got those two yawps out of the way because I’d like to proceed from the point that I love this game. I’m a huge fan of it in its current iteration. I can drop artillery anywhere there aren’t friendly troops, which covers a lot of ground. The game maps are large and allow you to literally approach your objectives from any angle you desire. It is the successor to Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis in name only. Where the first was punishing, cruel, and unrelenting in killing you and everything else in the game, the second is more approachable, read that: easier.


The designers made the point that the default AI never changes, which I like. It makes no difference what difficulty level you choose, the AI stays the same. You might think this would be an automatic disqualification, but in reality, it plays out pretty well. The easiest difficulty setting tells you exactly where the enemy is, even if it doesn’t know where you are. You get indicators letting you know exactly where the bad guys are, they show up on map overlays and there is no question as to who’s shooting at you and when.

And the good news for the casual gamer is, the default AI is not that bad to deal with, no worse than say, Delta Force: Black Hawk Down at the hardest difficulty level. The thing that bothered me most (even more than the omission of leaning) was the initial release of the game had horrible ballistics models. The muzzle velocity of the default .223-chambered rifles was somewhere between horrendous and that of a .22 Short. A patch later on made the ballistics much better to deal with and made a nearly unplayable game an unrealized gem, in this writer’s opinion. What makes it fun is the myriad of commands available in a radial menu to give to your squadmates and support to get the job done.

The game is gorgeous and since it’s console port, most modest machines can run it pretty easily, which is great for those of us who aren’t Croesus. I prefer the graphics to ArmA 2, but that seems to just make me weird in the opinion of most of my fellow SimHQ-ers. Could care less, I thought it was a great game. The sound quality is tenfold times better than ArmA 2, from voice acting to weapons audio. I don’t need an actual insect buzzing past my face, dragging down my framerate, when the audio conveys more than a visual could every time. Graphics and audio make this game a pretty exciting and stimulating ride.

Someone said it was a pretty short ride, but you can actually make that last a little longer by going everywhere on foot. You probably will want to, since the vehicle physics are well-nigh-unto-impossible to control. Attempting to control a Hummer over uneven ground will make you flip more than Shamu. In a word, dreadful. However, that’s not to say that some fun can’t be had with the vehicles. I took great pleasure in using the grenade launcher in an AAVTP to defend a village from hordes of enemies descending upon me. Nothing made me grin in a disturbing form of glee like when I used an LAV-25’s main cannon to literally vaporize the defensive positions arranged around a POL site. There was something eminently satisfying about hijacking a tank from the AI (who were just going to get it pounded to death) and then using it to punch holes in houses for fun.

Last, Codemasters did something I appreciate. They threw political correctness to the wind and said, "You’re killing Chinese Communists. Have fun". No fictional countries, no dancing around someone’s feelings, just shooting people that hail from a place you can find on a map.


OFP:DR - What Works for the Casual Gamer

The AI is competent, has never gotten stuck in buildings, but has done things lke wandering out into withering suppressive fire from the enemy in order to, of all things, heal itself. It also hits what it aims at. For this reason alone, you will want to take good care of your friends. They have eagle eyes to spot the enemy and successfully engage and kill whatever they target. The radial commands menu is a snap to use (especially with a controller) and the AI obeys orders pretty well. Just be careful where you tell them to move and practice having them take cover. You’ll figure out pretty quick where to point them so they’ll take effective cover. Sometimes they’ll still screw up, but by and large, they’re good at what they do.

The enemy AI is not especially bright, but they are not complete morons who couldn’t hit the long side of a supertanker with an Uzi. They may be the targets in a giant game of Whack-a-Mole, but they can get rather medieval when the need arises. Get enough of them in one spot and they can really bring the wood. What’s nice is that they are consistent.

OFP:DR - What Doesn’t Work for the Casual Gamer

Sometimes the game does some pretty snarky stuff that unless you "cheat", you probably won’t succeed without getting manhandled by the enemy AI at least a half dozen times before the mission mercifully ends. Hijacking vehicles with heavy artillery from the AI is one of the best ways to accomplish this. Sometimes the game throws just overwhelming numbers of bad guys at you that you simply cannot defend against.

Add to that, there are several missions that make you hurry to beat a time limit, as in, your extraction is showing up in five minutes and you better have the area cleared by then or… well, in one case, it just kinda waited for me to wrap things up. If you don’t time limits, you might not like some of the missions. I didn’t have that big of a problem with it, simply because it added some tension to something that might have just turned into waiting for a good opportunity to snipe someone, which would have been pretty boring.

This game appealed to me, and of all the tactically-minded shooters I own, this one gets the most playing time on my PC. I may be alone on this one, but I enjoyed this one and still am.


  • Excellent graphics.
  • No-frills storyline.
  • Good audio with much improved voice acting over the original.
  • Intuitive command menu.
  • Moderate-to-good friendly AI that can take care of itself for the most part.
  • Thank you, Codemasters, for fixing the frickin’ ballistics. That alone could have killed your game.


  • Screw you, Codemasters, for not including a gameplay mechanic (leaning) that’s been around since Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear.
  • Where the hell is everyone on the island? It feels like an episode of "Lost" sometimes.
  • Even the larger set-piece battles feel like a small-unit action.

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