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June 30 2009
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
- PS3 Preview
Release Date Distributer Publisher Developer
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Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising looks hot.
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Reloading the weapon in Operation Flashpoint 2.

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Vehicle models are impressive.
If you're a PC gamer then you may remember the 2001 shooter Operation Flashpoint. It was a realistic shooter with amazing visuals and detailed gameplay and managed to impress both critically and commercially winning numerous awards that year. In an interesting twist the original developers Bohemia Interactive continued to progress the game engine for a sequel but couldn't use the Operation Flashpoint name as that was owned by Codemasters. In the end they released the somewhat disappointing ArmA: Armed Assault on PC in 2007. So what is Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising then? Well this is Codemasters' "unofficial official" sequel developed in-house by Codemasters.

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Using the M16A4 in Dragon Rising.
According to all the company spiel Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising has seen Codemasters put together 'the studio's largest development team ever assembled' with a development time of two years - in pre-production alone! Now that's a pretty big statement as the company has had some monster titles in the past.

The game takes place in a fictional island near Japan called Skira and sees a large battle between Russian and Chinese forces for control of the island which contains large deposits of oil. In the game you play an America assisting the Russians against the Chinese army. With over 135 square miles of terrain built for this game - including mountains, beaches, rivers, and open plains among others - the developers are promising open unscripted levels allowing gamers to tackle the missions in any number of ways with multiple objectives. Not only that but the damage will be persistent. A building destroyed in one campaign, or even while just running around the island, will remain destroyed for the remaining missions. It remains to be seen how realistic the damage and destruction modeling will be on the buildings. Will this game get close to the glorious destruction seen in THQ's recent Red Faction: Guerrilla.

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EGO powered explosions are absolutely massive.
This game is impressive in that it manages to capture all aspects of the battlefield. Players, working with their squad mates, will fight as infantry soldiers in battle, drive tanks in armored assaults, pilot helicopters in air strikes, and infiltrate the enemy in covert special operations utilizing approximately 70 realistic military weapons from knives and rifles to machine guns, grenade launchers and laser designators for air strikes. Indeed there are also approximately 50 vehicles included, and usable, within the game. The character damage system authentically depicts the terrible wounds and injury from modern weapons to communicate the reality of combat, but you AI squad mates will even react to the level of peril they are facing, taking cover when required, and retreating if it gets too hot.

There are plenty of other small tidbits confirmed for the game. Night Vision goggles will be included, weapons will have multiple attachments available, a "medic" system will be implemented, swimming on water surfaces will be included, vehicles will be played from the third person perspective, on-foot infantry will be first person. The one disappointment is that the mission editor will be restricted to the PC version upon release - a console version may be released at a later date and will be looked into after release. Finally there will be a demo of the game released, so keep your eyes out for that one.

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Dragon Rising's battles are intense.
Of course all this is good, but it should be the multi-player modes that provide the biggest thrills. As yet there is no confirmation however it is strongly rumoured that the PC game will include support for 32 vs 32 player games, while consoles such as the PS3 will be limited to 4 vs 4 players which is a bit disappointing. Still, more people don't necessarily make for a better game, so as long as it is lag free and there's plenty to see and do we'll make do with 8-player action. We must also point out that each of those 8-player will have three AI controlled squad mates with them essentially making this a 24-player game so the maps will be fairly well populated. It is also rumoured that a co-op mode will be included in the game too, although there will not be any split-screen gameplay. Expect confirmation in the coming weeks regarding the console multi-player modes and player numbers.

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Character models really do look impressive.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this entire project is that the game uses an improved version of Codemasters EGO Engine and Neon technology. Never heard of it? Well have a look at games like Colin McRae Dirt (or the upcoming sequel) to see just how impressive the engine is. Textures are realistic, animations impressive, but it's the visual effects such as fires and explosions which look set to add a tonne of atmosphere and realism to this game. As the developers have stated, an explosion won't be on the screen for a couple of seconds, but for the larger explosions the resulting smoke and debris may be visible for a couple of minutes. Cut-scenes will be presented in documentary style, with the developers taking time to make these feel more like a war report on TV - fast and frantic.

It seems this game has now been set for a release around most of the world in early October, with Australians set to get the game on October 15. We can't wait to see how this game turns out. Visually it looks impressive and if the gameplay can match then it should be worth checking out. Shooter fans prepare...