Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising on the Horizon

Well, I'll be ignoring the fact that Halo 3: ODST dropped in Europe today, and focusing more at the game I've been waiting for since last Summer!

You see, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (OF:DR) proves to be a game that goes places no other game has! It's such a unique game, and has only one competitor: ArmA II, and that's a title only available to PC Gamers!

OF:DR is an Open World, Free Roaming, Modern Warfare, Tactical First Person Shooter! That's quite a mouthful, am I right? It's a shame we can't categorize all of these elements of the game into a few simple words. Well you can... just call it Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising!

Now firstly, allow me to cover a mistake that many people have been making. People love to call this game Operation Flashpoint 2, because it is figuratively a sequel to the original game, that came out somewhat 7 or 8 years ago!

But that is incorrect. This game is, in no form whatsoever, a direct sequel to the original. There are no recurring characters, storylines or settings.

Also, Codemasters (CMs), are not the original creators of Operation Flashpoint! It was originally created by Bohemia Interactive Studio - who dropped OF to start creating its very own rival: ARMA!

Bohemia actually have copyrights to the name OF2, and can begin a lawsuit against CMs at any given time should they refer to their game with that title.

CMs actually did (poor bastards!) use OF2, accidentally! And they got charged quite a lot of money from Bohemias! This really set them back throughout development of their Game! And that will explain just One of the many delays they had whilst creating the game! I'll get onto that subject in a second...

Moving as far away from that boring Name issue - I'd like to focus, again, on the more interesting features of OF:DR! The World that you'll be playing in is simply remarkable! It's 220 Square Kilometers! For those of you who aren't as knowledgeable about sizes as others... That's pretty freakin' HUGE! If you've ever played Far Cry 2, and you combined the entire land they let you play on (50 Square Kilometers), that was pretty big! That was big and pleasing enough to be considered the whole of Africa! Well this game will be multiplying that Worlds size by Five! That's right, this World is 5 times the size of Far Cry 2's take on Africa!!

The World is actually an Island. It's set on a Real Island by the North Coast of Japan, called Skira Island. I believe they may have actually created the Island fully to scale, which is an accomplishment within itself! What lies on the Island is a different matter! The real Island could contain anything! It could be as modern and Urban as Tokyo! Or it could be completely Rural (natural Grass, Trees and Foliage). In OF:DR, it merges almost every type of scenario you could ask for!

The majority of the Island is endless fields of Grass. This isn't particularly a bad thing. The completely open fields have little or no cover! You're a sitting duck! The fields aren't just pure flat! There are tall hills that bear Trees. The Trees provide a major cover for Snipers and other long-ranged equipped soldiers! Players will naturally find theirselves using cover, and sometimes Mother Nature provides that cover - although Players will hardly notice and appreciate that. All it takes is for the enemy to be lurking in the darkness beneath the Trees, and you're a dead man walking in those fields!

But there are also urban settings too! In early footage, it felt like the whole Island was Grass and Trees, and they just told us to go roll around in it! But eventually as this game developed further, the video footage began showing more of the urban environments. Although, at first it might have been a few tiny wooden houses in the middle of nowhere - like a Checkpoint Box to allow Vehicles to pass. In fact, that is exactly what it was.

But now I've seen the insides of an Oil Refinery, some kind of Airport built with glass windows, where a Heli-Pad was. And I've seen small little villages full of Houses fit for civilians. These particular villages look like something out of Battlefield: Bad Company. And I shouldn't have to say this, but I will - that's not a bad thing! Bad Company's villages, though repetitive, were well crafted and suitable for action. They will fit well in this game, too!

Finally, there was an extremely nice modern Bridge that could have been connecting the land between a deep Valley, or maybe a River. For whatever reason that Bridge is there, it looks like a major chokepoint for action, and will be a specific Spawn Location option for Online Multiplayer, so players can battle over this Bridge!

So the Setting is pretty satisfying. I promise you they've covered almost any scenario you could ask for...

Now to the features. Like I mentioned, it's Modern Warfare. It has alot of the modern Weapons and Vehicles. There are Tanks, Armored Cars, Amphibious Vehicles, Helicopters and Boats.

Now, although you can't fly Jets, you can call in Air Strikes. I've seen an Artillery Strike tearing up a small Village. And in one of the Trailers, you see Jets flying over through the clouds at the end. Now this leaves a helpful suggestion that I concluded long ago. Artillery Strikes are their own feature. An Artillery Strike certainly can't be referred to as an Air Strike, can it? Either way, I'm hoping those Jets aren't a feature that were removes. I'd pray to see a Carpet Bomb feature with the Air Strike, because Artillery isn't the only way you can attack from the air! To call an Air Strike, players are equipped with a pair of Binoculars. Once you pull out these Binoculars, you have a couple of options to choose from, and the main focus is the Air Strike.

I mentioned Modern Weapons a short while ago, and the main focus from the Trailers and Gameplay footage has been the M-16. The M-16 is a three bullet burst rifle, and although it has featured in many games, it will probably be remembered most from Call of Duty 4. Although there are many other weapons, you just can't watch an OF:DR video without catching this weapon in the mix! I've seen multiple variants of the weapon too, which reveals a great deal about Weapon Customization!

I've seen the weapon with a Holo Sight. Once again, for those unsure... the Holo sight is fairly similar to the Red Dot Sight you will remember from Call of Duty 4. However, instead of a red dot in the centre, you have a circle in the centre of the scope, with a tiny red dot in the centre of the circle. If you need a further example, the Holo Sight featured in 007 Quantum of Solace, which was a Game created by Activision's second development team, Treyarch.

I've also seen the M-16 with an ACOG scope, remembered from CoD4 and 007: QoS. And also, something I can only presume to be a 6x Scope, which would be remembered from Rainbow Six Vegas at least. And finally, a FLIR scope. This is a Thermal Scoped weapon that, when used, will light up anything with a heat signal in the area. This particularly helps with missions at Night, or when a Smoke Grenade is impairing your vision of the enemy. For those of you who would prefer to use other equipment when in a Dark scenario, you can be equipped with Night Vision Goggles, a Laser Sight and a Torch. The last two clip on to your weapon, and the laser sight is particularly impressive with night vision goggles, as the laser is larger. And whilst playing in Co-Op, you could point anything out to your friends by using the laser.

I should probably mention that Vehicles are also equipped with a FLIR scope. You can choose to use this scope. I've seen it used before, and it lights up the enemy vehicles like it's the fourth of July.

Now for the final part of the features. I previously mentioned the fact that it is a Tactical First Person Shooter. Now, it's an FPS. Great! But the Tactical word in that part is my main focus. Tactical Shooters usually involve Squads following you around, whilst you give orders. And that's exactly what happens here! You have a squad of 2 or 3 soldiers. Each soldier plays a specific role in your squad. How relevant and noticeable these different roles are hasn't been emphasised yet.

But the squad system is very advanced, and looks alot more in-depth and enjoyable than most of the other tactical shooters around. You can form shapes in your squad, the most documented shape being ''V". I think there may be one other shape you can form.

You can give orders for your squad to flank left or right, which will involve your squad moving forward to the flank of your location. This requires you to lay down suppressing fire to distract the enemy. It also means you'll be needing all the cover you can get, so you can stay alive!

You can also give important orders to your squad, like "Hold your Fire" - which will prevent your Computer AI squad from firing a single bullet. However, the AI is clever, and they will fire when they realise it's their only resort unless they die. This would only happen in a situation where they are in close-quarters with the enemy, with no cover at all.

Other orders are "Fire on my Lead" - which means your squad, once again, will not fire. But they will open fire on the location you're shooting at once you begin to shoot. They may also open fire on other locations that may endanger your lives.

Finally, the least popular order (depending on the scenario) is "Fire at Will" - your Squad will open fire the second they've got a visual on an enemy. They won't ask for permission to fire, they will instantly open fire. This is probably when you have the least control over your squad. It's also one of the options you'd only choose if you are in an all-out War on an open Battlefield.

Your squad don't just take your orders. They also help you. Once they've spotted an enemy, they will tell you vocally. Informing you on what type of soldier they are, which direction they are to you, and the distance they are from you. What's cool about this feature, is that not only do they tell you what you may not know, but it's also the tone in which they say it. During a raging battle, they will shout over the gunfire and explosions to inform you of soldiers in a spotted location. But in the day time, whilst you're not in combat, they will just say it normally, with a calm tone.

And finally, my personal favourite. During night time, and most probably on a stealth mission, your squad whisper the locations of enemies to you. It all ties in with your atmosphere, and it really gives the game that realistic feel that CMs are after!

I should also mention that they tell you when a target is eliminated too... And the bad attributes to this feature are that the soldiers tend to repeat themselves continuously. It's a cool feature, but it happens so frequently that it gets old and boring very quickly!

Co-Op and Multiplayer are where the magic of the Single Player gameplay merges into Online, where you face real people across the globe. Suddenly teamwork is essential, and people are making human-choices unlike the Computer AI in Single Player. It'll also be mayhem as the flocks of Tanks, Helicopters, Air Strikes and Bullets come flying at all angles as this game turns into a merge of Battlefield: Bad Company and Call of Duty 4.

Console Gamers will be upset to know that there will only be 8 Humans attending each Online session. The other 24 players will be Computer AI! The AI will be placed equally into each Human Players' squad. This gives Humans the ability to control their Squad like they would during the Single Player - but in Online Multiplayer! This was a decision made by CMs, because they knew they couldn't handle Console Servers holding 32 players without getting a lag issue (much like we saw with Battlefield: Bad Company). Therefore, they used Computer AI to make up for the 24 players that the PC Gamers get. This feature sounds cool, but it also feels kind of lame! It's a bit like Marmite - you're either going to love it - or you're gonna hate it!

Multiplayer throws a few other things into the mix too, like Flares that release visible red smoke which will really add to the teamwork element of the Game. If one of your teammates is in a Chopper, and you are engaging in an extreme battle on foot. Then you can light up a Flare near your (or the enemies) position, so that you can signal where you are. Then, you just lay down suppressing fire, whilst your teammate flies over in his Helicopter, and then clears the area with his Rockets - and possibly a Turrent gunner!

Pure teamwork - that's what this game is all about. Making the player think about their every move! Making teamwork the main tactic for success! No more One-Man-Armies from Call of Duty! You're gonna need every one your 15 other teammates!

PC Gamers can also expect the Mission Editor. An Editor that gives you complete control of the 220 square kilometer Skira Island, and allows you to choose where you spawn, where the enemy spawns, what movement the enemy makes, and what your objective is. You can spawn vehicles, and anything. You set the scenario, and then you drop in and live it! Once you're happy with your mission, you can save it - play the Mission yourself! Or you can share it with your friends - and I'm pretty sure you can upload it to a Dedicated Server. Where other Gamers can find and download your upload, and then try it out for themselves!

So, although there are officially 11 Missions in the Single Player Campaign, PC Gamers can download or create an a ton of Missions, and play them alone - or in Co-Op with their Friends. It's a fantastic feature, returning from the original game, that adds that replayable value to this game! I'd certainly expect some D-Day mission variants!!

Sadly, due to restrictions (much like the Online Multiplayer) the Console Gamers have to miss out on this fun. It's no biggy, though. Because CMs developers have not ruled out adding the Mission Editor to Consoles via Downloadable Content (DLC). And whilst we're on this topic, CMs has already confirmed that they have full intentions to release DLC for both PC and Console. The DLC for the PC will be entirely Free, meanwhile Console players will have a mixed variation of Free DLC, and Priced DLC.

The final thing I'd like to discuss about the game is the delays! I believe this game was first revealed at the E3 Show in 2007! That was the same year that Call of Duty 4 was revealed, and won our hearts! CoD4 came to us that Fall, and the rest is history!

As for Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising? It was given a release date of Summer 2008. But as that time drew closer, the game was completely delayed! I heard nothing until January 2009, which is when we were given a Spring 2009 date! The Trailers became more frequent, and soon that date was pushed all the way back to Summer 2009. An exact year after the original predicted release date!

Finally, a Trailer was released Pre-E3 2009, a whole TWO years since the games first announcement, and this time we were given a Fall 2009 tag. But now the date has been sealed. October 9, 2009. Developer Diary Videos are now being released in quick succession. The game looks near perfection. And if it isn't completed already, then it's being tweaked for the final added touches.

The game has been very tricky for CMs to create. What with all the realistic features, and the effort put into every feature of the game! CMs certainly aren't lazy! They want this game to be just how they pictured it! I'd expect the Game to "go Gold" some time next Week...

I'm not too sure why this is my Most Wanted Game right now, because Halo 3: ODST drops today, and Modern Warfare 2 drops in November. But inbetween those two gems comes this game.

And I personally think this game hits the spot for me! Far Cry 2 was the most excited I'd gotten over a game... Period! I suddenly realised that it was Open World. You can go wherever you want! You're not boxed into corridors that guide you to your destination. It's like your hand is being held every step of the way in Call of Duty!

Far Cry 2 (FC2) allowed you to roam freely, but the storyline was tiresome, and the one-man-army business was slightly disheartening. Mercenaries don't always tend to work alone. And in a crazy place like Africa, you just wouldn't work alone!

This game has alot more spice. The storyline is far more interesting and enjoyable. And the Setting is also better. I know FC2's Africa was beautiful, and the exotic landscapes were great to see...

But this game goes one step further for me. The location looks nice, and it also seems alot more open. FC2's Mountains were un-climbable. This meant that certain areas were difficult to gain access to from "ANY ANGLE" like Ubisoft promised us! In fact, some places - like the Airfield in the Southern Map of FC2 - actually gave you only One route into that place.

Also, FC2 split its impressive 50 square Kilometers into 2 Maps. OF:DR doesn't do this. It's all one island. And it's all accessible at once! And you are no boxed in by Mountains. There are Hills that are ascendable. No questions asked.

So that's Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising! It's a game worth looking at. If it looks like your kind of game - then there's only one thing left for you to do...

Check it out!

I'm sorry this was such a long read, and I really hope you read through everything - because every part of this Blog is important (if you want to know more about this game). Most diehard fans for this game will already know most of this information anyway! In fact, I've been away from the Official Forums for some Months now - and I'm probably behind on most of the latest info!

But to conclude this terribly long blog, I'm going to leave you with embedded videos of every Trailer for OF:DR to date, in the correct order of release:

And there were also some Videos released showing off some juicy gameplay footage of One or Two Missions!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

October = 2009's Most Anticipated Month?

Well, we all know that there are plenty of great annual titles out there. All of EA Sports titles that please Sports fans across the Globe. All the Shooters. And also the rare sequels that take years to put into action.

This year, although you have the highly anticipated Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 releasing on November 10th, I personally believe that October is the highly anticipated Month of '09.

Look at the likes of:

Halo 3: ODST
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
PES 10
WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2010

These are all titles I am personally really looking forward to! And there are fans worldwide who prefer just one of these titles!

But, if you're a fan like me, and you're anticipating all of these great games coming October 2009, then buckle up! Cause it's gonna be one hell of a ride!


Sunday, 6 September 2009

The Ready-Up System

Today, I wish to discuss the very old fashioned, and horrible system that I call the "Ready-Up System".

It's in the Multiplayer side of games, and it's when you join a lobby, and the only way for a game to begin, is via a Ready Up System.

It's where Players have to press a button to announce they're ready. And usually, a game is forbidden to begin until a minimum number of Players have readied up.

This feature was hot back in the older gaming days, but games have come a long way since then. But sadly, we still get those games that choose to keep the system in.

It's a very frustrating system, because there's always that one nooby guy who doesn't want to be ready! And in a game that has died long ago, it's often too difficult to even gain enough players to get the game started.

Now sure, a small one vs one, or maybe a slightly larger game, is not gonna be interesting at all, and probably won't make the cut. But action is action. And most of the new games manage to pit any players together, no strings attached, and you can hit the action instantly.

The old Ready-Up system makes even a recently released game take that extra time to get started, and it does slow down the action and make the game boring.

Should the Ready Up System be axed?

Leave your opinion in the Comments section, below.