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Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (PC) review
The phrase "ground-breaking gameplay" gets bandied about entirely too often, particularly in press releases and the like, but 2001's Operation Flashpoint is arguably one of the rare titles which is worthy of the use of that phrase.
While first-person, war-themed titles are ten a penny, Operation Flashpoint turned the usual world of health bars and ammunition and medical kits scattered around like candy on its head, instead bringing us all of the gritty realism of war in a sandbox environment (before people started calling them sandbox environments), complete with a range of vehicles and realistic weapons at your disposal, but more importantly armed with the knowledge that a bullet in the wrong place would kill you instantly.
For all of its bugs and problems, Operation Flashpoint proved to be a compelling (albeit difficult) title to play, with its Cold War setting proving to be just as much of a breath of fresh air as its take on the war-themed first-person shooter.
Today, the Operation Flashpoint name returns to our PC screens via a brand-new title, subtitled Dragon Rising. Is it worthy of the franchise that spawned it? More importantly, is it even a true Operation Flashpoint sequel at all? The answer to that second question is "No, not really" - While Codemasters (the developers of Dragon Rising) own the Operation Flashpoint name, the original game was in fact developed by Bohemia Interactive, a company who went on to produce a couple of ArmA titles (as well as an actual combat training simulator used by numerous armed forces worldwide) but whose input is conspicuous by its absence here.
So, Dragon Rising is shorn of the development team that gave birth to the Operation Flashpoint name, but Codemasters is still a high-profile developer by any stretch of the imagination, so what direction have they taken the franchise? Let's fire up the PC version of the game (which is also seeing a release on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3) to check it out. Be sure to bring some bandages though, things could get pretty bloody.