News Flash! 1985 -- A new Soviet regime has seized control of an island community and underground resistance groups have mobilized in opposition. The new Soviet government, unable to fight the resistance groups has called on NATO to act as a peacekeeping force and help restore order to the region.
Welcome to Operation Flashpoint (OFP), where you get to step back to the era of the cold war in Codemasters huge first/third person strategy and shooter game. You assume the role of Private David Armstrong who is going through basic training on the island of Everon. You’ll take control of Pvt. Armstrong through 30+ missions that will have you assaulting small towns, commandeering vehicles and launching sniper attacks. One of the best aspects of the game is the fact that you get to operate so many different types of vehicles. There are jeeps, tanks, helicopters and many more vehicles that aid you in squashing the rebels. Played in either first or third person perspective, OFP is comprised of three sections. You have single mission mode that lets you choose individual missions. You then have campaign mode, which is by far the best way to go because of the cinematic storyline that unfolds before you. The last mode is of course Multiplayer which lets up to 16 people wage war with each other or work cooperatively. If that still isn’t enough for you, then maybe the mission editor that lets you add even more replay value will convince you. Anyway you look at it, Operation Flashpoint is a huge game that will have you itching to get on the battlefield.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
When I say this is a thinking man’s shooter, I’m not kidding in the least bit. If you try to be Rambo in Operation Flashpoint you’ll find yourself in a black body bag being shipped to the USA, next day air. Cooperation from your computer controlled squad mates is a must for survival. From the very first mission until the last, the storyline sucks you in and makes you want stay until the very last bullet is fired. The last time I became so immersed in a storyline was with Max Payne.
Controlling the game is a lot like any other first person shooter, you generally use your mouse and keyboard together to maneuver your character. The vehicles that you can operate can also be controlled with this method but joystick and gamepads are also an option. One slight negative would have to be the huge amount of keystrokes you have to remember. As a soldier, you’re able to communicate with your squad, so there are radio commands that must be learned. Once you become a squad leader you then have to also issue orders, so combine that with the radio keys and the movement and firing keys and there is a whole lot to remember. The other negative has to do with how the story was scripted. OFP is very rigid in regards to how the story unfolds; you must go from point A to point B and then C. If you veer too much either way the story doesn’t push forward -- this frustrated me at first, but once I understood the idea behind the plotline, it was easy to progress in the game. Both of the negatives I mentioned don’t really take away from the game at all. You’ll find yourself following your character, David Armstrong, through all the missions of the cold war with immense attention.
I tried unsuccessfully four times to play online at Gamespy, but my latency was way too high for most people to tolerate me in the game room. I can say this though: I’ve played a lot of Rainbow Six and Counter-Strike online and thoroughly enjoyed myself and I see no reason why Operation Flashpoint would be any different. I suspect OFP might even be better just because the sheer size of the maps will make for some great firefights.
At first I wasn’t too sure about the graphics, but I quickly realized I’d been playing too much Max Payne and have become overly pampered. The attention to detail in Operation Flashpoint is wonderful. The actual characters in the game are nicely done. Everything from camo BDU’s to A.L.I.C.E backpacks are included on the player models, really giving you the feel of being an Army grunt. All of the weapons in the game were modeled very well. The M-16 looks like an M-16, as do the grenades, machine guns, sniper rifles and last but not least the RPGs.
As mentioned above, there are tons of vehicles in the game that you can drive or operate and this is where OFP sets itself apart from every other game. Every vehicle is done with great attention to detail -- gauges move up and down, steering wheels move back and forth, windshields crack and break.
The last section I’ll cover in the graphics is the terrain that you will encounter in OFP. Each map in the game seems so vast and huge. You will really get the feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by heavy forest with the occasion dirt road. You’ll come across small villages, fuel depots, enemy bases and even a rebel base now and again. And all of this is done in beautiful first or third person view. The only negative thing I can find with the graphics would have to be that the colors seemed muted or dull, but after a serious game session you won’t even notice it.
I have one word for you about the audio. Wow! I was really blown away by the audio in Operation Flashpoint. Never before has the audio helped immerse me in a game like the audio has in OFP. While on patrol you will hear radio chatter from other units and, if things start going bad, you can hear the desperation in their voices. Teammates in your squad constantly report over the radio the current situation, enemies spotted and so forth.
The weapon sounds were very nicely done. You can definitely tell the difference when you’re firing an M-16 as opposed to an AK-47. Grenade explosions had me ducking for cover under my desk, peeking to see if anyone was left alive. All of the natural sounds such as birds, bugs and weather add to the feel of the entire game. Something that I thought was really cool were the sounds from your character in the game. When you’re running over long distances you obviously get winded. It was really cool to hear the character breathing heavily from the exertion of running and then to hear his breathing slow after a bit of rest. All in all, I would have to say great job on the audio because it really sucked me into the game even more.
Win 95/98/ME/2000, PII 450Mhz or better, 64MB RAM, 450MB hard disk space, DirectX 8.0, 3D Graphics Card with 16 MB RAM, 16bit Sound Card, 8X CD-ROM, and a Modem.
I’m going to make this really simple for everyone. Go out and buy Operation Flashpoint, you will not be disappointed. OFP provides hours and hours of fun gameplay that will have you staying up way too late and ignoring your spouse. This is one of the most enjoyable first/third person shooters to come along in a long time. On that note I’m going to give the game a score of 92/100. Sorry I can’t talk more, but I have some Russians that are trying to take over a small village. Jeez, it’s tough saving the world!!