Realism in games has always been hit or miss. On one hand we have racing,sports and real life simulator games which constantly try and upgrade to become proper simulators and for the most part it works. Whereas on the other hand we have first and third person shooters where in the past have proven that if made too realistic detract from the fun and enjoyment that comes from blowing enemies away left, right and center. The team at Codemasters tried to buck this trend and wanted to make Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising realistic while keeping the fun at the forefront, but has largely failed.
When you load up a new campaign, a fantastic opening sequence completely immerses you within the story giving the background to Skira Island and why the character played, as an American soldier, is helping Russia save this island. The story itself is unfortunately really just a backdrop for the developers to place you in this situation and allows them to set basic military missions based on this. There is no character development or any form of a decent plot throughout the rest of the game. This dismally turns the game’s shining beginning into a lame storytelling experience similar to a standard first person shooter title.
The area where this game was supposed to win the Medal of Honor away should have been the gameplay, but the truth is: there is no medal awarding ceremony for this title. While the weapons are decently varied and firefights verge on realism in terms of bullet damage, the apparent and non-existent enemy A.I. is extremely atrocious. An enemy soldier can be sitting 50 yards away on a hillside looking straight towards you and not make a move until you or your squad mates fire at him, killing the immersible atmosphere. The main aspect that continues to kill the small amount of fun the few moments of realism provide has to do with distance. While trying to fulfill the missions, the large and seemingly attractive in-game area that was shown off as attractive ends up becoming frustrating. Completing missions themselves is easy, but there does not need to be an unbeknown and disappointing element that adds a good 10 minutes of no action.
It is not all doom and gloom for Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising. The firefights are a strong feature especially at long distances and the guns are varied and provide a lot of punch which feels excellent. The squad A.I. is also very well behaved and rarely will a friendly cross your path. Luckily, the squad A.I. themselves are good at picking off the opposition and gives a sense that you are actually a part of the team. It is just upsetting to a level that so many single-player flaws outweigh any level of fun this title offers.
The main selling point for Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising has to do with the multiplayer. The co-op mode allows three of your friends to join you through each campaign stage and features an excellent level of team based operation play that a lot of first person shooters fail to incorporate. Unfortunately, online cooperative play is still plagued with the similar problems of single-player, leading to many long walks and even more Asian enemies sitting on a hillside getting ready to be shot first. The Player vs Player mode, Annihilation and Infiltration are fun for a while but are basically the same standard fare we see in so many other games. On average, the multiplayer fairs slightly well than single-player only because of the friends and not by any other reason.
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising tries to break the mould and give a realistic firefight experience while keeping the essence of a game based on the forefront, but gets hit with a bullet in major areas.