September 17, 2009
Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis for Xbox360
This week we present part one of a review on Operation Flashpoint. Part two will be published next week.
Set in 1985, The Cold War simmers as NATO and the Warsaw Pact are locked in a grim embrace. Masses of men and weapons stand toe to toe, ready to live out the nightmare of World War III. Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis is an ambitious and eagerly anticipated military shooter that turns up the heat on the Cold War, featuring advanced armies and weapon systems doing battle with you in the middle. While the setting may not be entirely relevant anymore, it's still perfect shooter material, and Operation Flashpoint does justice to it with complex gameplay accompanied by a huge and truly memorable game map.
Feeling like you're in the middle of a modern battlefield.
Operation Flashpoint puts you on the fictional Malden Islands, an area reminding you of the Balkans. In the extensive single-player campaign, you learn that fighting has erupted on the islands and, at first, it's unclear who's involved and who's to blame. As part of the sole NATO presence in the area, it's your job to help liberate the innocent villages caught in the mayhem and determine just what's going on and who's going to pay.
pieces of the puzzle
Thanks to lengthy and generally well-directed in-engine cut scenes, you'll start to gather the pieces of the puzzle. You begin the campaign as a US Army private engaged in training exercises in an almost-idyllic camp. So far, you and your fellow soldiers haven't seen any action during your tour of duty on the islands. That quickly changes and you get the opportunity to confront enemies, explore the huge islands and finally move up the ranks for new responsibilities and challenges.
Numerous campaign missions let you assault villages, run patrols, rescue hostages and engage in a variety of realistic actions. Usually, you play as part of a computer-controlled squad, but one of the dramatic high points of the campaign puts you alone, lost in a forest at dawn, trying desperately to make it through heavy enemy patrols to an evacuation point. Unfortunately, the missions rely heavily on scripted events and triggers, which both reduces replay value somewhat and contributes to bugs. Sometimes an event will fail to register, leaving you and your comrades just sitting there with no way to finish the mission or progress through the linear campaign. Despite plausible enemy artificial intelligence, you'll often encounter enemies near the same spots each time you play a mission. Also, the game inexcusably gives you only one save per mission, though you can choose when to make it. Note to game designers: Let players decide for themselves if they want to play ironman-style, particularly when missions can last 20 or 30 minutes like they do here.
Outside of the campaign, which can be tackled on two different levels, you can also engage in varied single missions that you can play in any order, bringing the mission total to around 50. On top of that, Operation Flashpoint includes a full mission editor, and there's a burgeoning mod scene for the game. Multiplayer offers a number of modes, including capture the flag, death match, city defence, and cooperative. The team-based modes have lots of potential but require an exceptional amount of cooperation and co-ordination between players, which will be hard to find on public servers.
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