Now Playing: Operation Flashpoint – Dragon Rising

Got a hold of the latest tactical shooter in the PC market, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, and you know what? It’s pretty awesome! For an open field military shooter. I personally was never a fan of the genre, preferring less expansive stealth operations, but this one has succeeded at getting my attention and is delivering quite well.

The graphics are not top notch, but they are very beautiful and run quite smooth on my near top notch DX9-era computer, specially the HDR lighting effects, very well made, and none of that bath-of-gold bullshit we usually see. Weapon control is solid and the AI is very developed, even if a bit spotty, and you get one of your team mates in your line of fire every now and then.

Previous to this one, I had never really played through an open world tactical shooter. I remember trying Ghost Recon‘s first mission, an open field approach to a cave with terrorists, if my memory serves me right, and I was put off by the lack of focus and seemingly shallow tactics. I’m more of a stealth kind of player, had great fun with both Hidden and Dangerous and its sequel, also the Thief series, IGI Project (I think it was the second installment, it’s long gone now), and, of course, Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield, with it’s close quarters building assaults and all, great, great fun, specially on a LAN.

And now Dragon Rising caught my eye – mostly because of the plot, I should say (near-future political fiction, involving China invading Russian territory) – and it’s awesome. Team tactics are relatively easy to manage and very detailed, and if you don’t really care about that, your fellow soldiers are generally smart and know how to do the job and survive. How you approach a point is also pretty engaging, specially when you spread your unit to cover different angles (and it actually works! Unlike in Rainbow Six 3, with the AI), and defending them is also fun. It’s all about your position in the field, and I think I learned to love that particular point of strategy.

I’ve played a bit online but was getting my ass whooped and came back to the campaign. I’m half-way through and it’s only improving so far, and I’m craving for some LAN action with this baby, ’cause it can only be good.

I hear several features promised by Codemasters are not present in the game, but for a non-fan of the series like myself, they are not missed. My biggest grudge with the game is the obvious consolization (although I do not know if the previous game worked like that) of the radial menu. Why, why didn’t they use the numbers instead of the directional keys? This way, you have to stop moving to issue orders, even if it’s only for half a second, after you know where things are.

If you’re a fan of the genre, this is probably a must have. If you’re not, this may well be a better entry point than most.

And this is what I’m playing at the moment.

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