Operation Flashpoint: Resistance
Lithuania Estonia and Latvia are countries that up until the end of the Cold War few would have even heard about, let alone visited. Indeed to a great many people they might still remain today as fantastical as Middle Earth or Button Moon if it wasn’t for their combined musical might. As some of you may know, it was Estonia who won last year’s Eurovision Song Contest and Latvia who dominated this year’s event. (Not that I saw either contest, you understand.) These Baltic brothers may be small in number, globally insignificant and geographically pitiable, but they certainly know how to rock the funky beat. However, the citizens of fictional Operation Flashpoint islands Everon, Malden and Kolgujev - in stark contrast to their Baltic neighbours - know nothing of euro pop, freedom, or indeed, Button Moon. Stuck in a mid-’80s time warp - though they have been spared the mullet epidemic - the collective population of Operation Flashpoint's three fictional islands have instead had to play host to successive waves of NATO and Soviet forces, each slugging it out for control of their lands.
Run To The Hills
According to official figures, in excess of a million people have fought across Flashpoint's war-torn world, first in the original campaign for NATO, then as the Soviet Union, thanks, of course, to last year’s Red Hammer mission pack. However, we’ve had quite enough of Flashpoint's previous three islands, and it is with thanks and some relief that Flashpoint's second expansion pack Resistance, introduces a fourth, Nogovo. Rather than have you fighting as the technically affluent West or under the red banner of socialist Russia, this time you are on the side of the little people; the ones who in time of war pick up their pitchforks and head into the mountains.
Set some years prior to Operation Flashpoint, Resistance has you playing as Fatboy Slim look-alike and Pierce Brosnan sound-alike, Victor Troska, an ex-Soviet soldier, who, having had enough of fighting for the motherland, has moved to the relatively idyllic republic. It is there, one da on his way to his office, that he learns on the radio that his adopted homeland isn’t quite as tranquil as he first envisaged. It seems the pro-democratic government is in tatters and seizing the chance to reclaim the land in the name of socialism, the Reds are poised to take over in a way only they know how; by sending in a massive invasion force.
The inevitable transpires and, of course, a few locals put up a fight, but like trying to find a decent pub in Welwyn Garden City, it is a gesture as desperate as it is futile. Nonetheless, it isn’t long until our reluctant hero is in the thick of the action fighting against impossible odds.
Run For Your Life
Far more convincing than either the original game or the first add-on, thanks to improved cut-scenes and a competent script, Resistance provides a much more intense experience, where your actions have greater consequence not only on the mission at hand, but in future operations. As your soldiers progress through the campaign they steadily gain experience.
Lose one and you lose not just one man, but a potentially experienced soldier. As well as experience, there are more tangible resources to worry about too. Up against a large, well-equipped and organised force, Nogovo's resistance needs to steal every weapon and bullet they can from captured supply trucks and twitching corpses. It may all sound a bit low-tech compared to previous Flashpoint adventures when you’re spending all your time going through the pockets of dead Russian conscripts, but there are few better Flashpoint moments than when there’s a tank coming towards you and halfway between you both is a dead body slumped over an anti-tank rocket.
Cold War Stasis
While it would be difficult to recommend Resistance for its new weapons and drivable vehicles (though the motorbike is a lot of fun), those wishing to upgrade a game they still find enjoyable should see this as an essential purchase. Graphically, the terrain is far more detailed -not just on the new island, but the old three have also been touched up; all the trees look like proper trees and for those with top of the range PCs, the game now boasts an incredible depth of view. Certainly some of the animations could have done with an upgrade - soldiers still run as if they've lost bowel control - and there are clipping problems indoors and bizarre instances of soldiers running around in odd directions. Most annoying of all is that the archaic RTS-style interface used to give orders remains intact, whereas a context-sensitive order system would have worked far better. Alas...
Although the campaign itself is a little on the difficult side, the fact that Flashpoint players have a new island to explore should prove a big draw. Despite the hangovers of a cumbersome interface and some annoying bugs, it's a quality addition to what was and remains the best tactical action game around. Those who may have given up on Flashpoint halfway through are the only ones who need think twice before purchasing.
Download Operation Flashpoint: Resistance
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Ok, I May have been moaning a few issues back about how hard it is to come up with plotlines when designing new Operation Flashpoint missions, so it's probably just as well that I'm not in the paid employ of Bohemia Interactive, the game's creator. This summer we'll be seeing a brand new expansion pack for the Greatest War Game Of All Time that not only throws a whole new island, new vehicles, new weapons and new missions at you, but also has a pretty decent storyline to boot. Bastards.
The resistance of the title comes from one Victor Troska, ex-Russian special forces soldier, now farming crops and living the peaceful life on the sizeable island of Nogova. Along come a large group of renegade Russians soldiers and off to war goes Victor and his rag-tag bunch of civilian rebels. I reckon I could have come up with that given time. What?
With Flashpoint having proved to be gaming's equivalent of sliced bread, it's only natural that Codemasters has started to go all 'games publishery' on us. Hence questions probing the inner heart of Resistance simply provoke the usual round of guarded answers and speculation-feeding tidbits. Fair enough. Speculate we shall.
How different is the new island of Nogova to Everon and Malden? "It's much, much bigger, and much better looking," unreveals Codemasters' Jonathan Smith, head of external development regarding Flashpoint. "There are all-new buildings, hi-res textures and new graphical techniques significantly improving key environmental features." Translation - trees and bushes are more tree and bush-like and there's proper T&L support for the new batch of 3D cards.
What kind of new vehicles and weapons are included? "Mostly civilian vehicles, since most plausible military hardware is already in the game," explains Smith, "but there's also a brand new class of weaponry, which should make a real difference to the gameplay." New class of weaponry? It's unlikely that we'll start seeing politically sensitive items such as biological weapons or nukes in the game, but the good money is on advanced forms of explosive hardware - about the only thing really missing from the original.
Carry On Sergeant
Remarkably for a game that has been hailed as one of the closest things you can get to real-life combat and is currently being converted for use by the US Marines fortraining, Bohemia is claiming that Resistance will be even more realistic and "offer more freedom" than before. While this 'realism' stops some way short of Victor having psychotic flashbacks during firefights and massacring his own men in a berserker rampage before blowing his own head off while claiming to be the Angel Of Death, it does go as far as having limited mission resources.
"You'll love this so much, it's just great," says Smith in a bizarrely personal assessment of my judgement values. "In the new Resistance campaign, equipment and personnel are persistent from mission to mission. All resources are limited, and need to be treasured. Lose a guy on one mission, and you'll be one down on the next. Take a little time to go out of your way and raid that distant enemy stockpile, and you might just acquire some crucial new weapons for the battle ahead of you."
So Resistance is going to feel more like one long battle rather than a linear sequence of stand-alone missions? "It brings an RPG-style element to the game," Smith explains. "You'll find yourself getting genuinely attached to favourite recruits and modifying your tactics to take account of the resources at your disposal." Not so attached that you'll spend hours wringing your hands in grief, shouting "Why? In God's name WHY?" at the heavens when a comrade takes one in the gut, but attached enough to make you at least think a bit more before making a tactical decision. Which is no bad thing.
Smith admits that Codemasters and Bohemia are "really, really excited" about the impact these subtle gameplay changes are going to have on the singleplayer game, but as veteran Flashers know, that's only half the fun.
"Bohemia is completely rewriting the netcode to function even more effectively over the Internet," says Smith when asked about the multiplayer side of the game. "They're also adding a few important new features - but we can't confirm them right now, as they're still unproven." However understands one such feature to be an in-game server browser, finally eliminating all those wasted hours negotiating Gamespy adverts and getting kicked out of sessions because they started two seconds before All-Seeing Eye managed to load up the game.
Budding mission makers aren't being ignored either. Although my own lofty plans in this particular area didn't exactly bear much fruit, Bohemia is promising to include some "powerful new scripts" according to Smith which should make life a little easier for all of us. Both publisher and developer have been overwhelmed by the way the editing community grew up around Flashpoint and although nothing concrete is planned at the time of writing, Smith does hint at continued support for the creatives out there, sitting at home inventing wars in their underwear (so to speak). At least there's the new island, weapons and civilian vehicles to mess about with while the pros decide what to do for you next.
All of which means there's something for everyone (except pacifists and people who only use their PCs for Championship Manager sessions or downloading barnyard porn). We'd still like to see more noise being made about a full-on sequel than just a constant stream of add-ons and expansions, but until Bohemia and Codemasters see fit to do the decent thing (and just remember who it was that pushed Flashpoint into the public eye in the first place yeah?), we'll just have to settle for life in the Nogovian resistance. At least the scenery's nice.