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Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis

Developer: Bohemia International | Publisher: Codemasters
Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 08/30/01 | Genre: Shooter

Bohemia Interactive, with their Operation Flashpoint release, have taken the role of a catalyst to enact change upon an industry crippled by its woeful lack of creativity and originality. As it stands, the predominance of games released in the last year have been either sequels which have attempted to "reinvent" the game play and the concepts behind their predecessors, or those which mimic the tried and tested structure of the classics. Operation Flashpoint, in contrast to this trend, brings with it an almost entirely original structure and game model, and not a moment too soon.

There are many games whose virtues lie in the superficial characteristics of graphics and sound design. It seems that it has been forgotten that these are actually mediums to support and enhance the immersion the player feels while playing. Their role is not so much to cause marvel on behalf of the player, yet rather to establish a visual and auditory scene, which can be used as the basis for the creation of the game world. Operation Flashpoint achieves this with tact. The simplicity of the terrain and the graphical elements not related to game play allows for sheer volume and intense detail of objects which are the core concerns of the gamer; the objects with which he interacts. The crisp and simple audio, both in terms of the sound effects and the voice effects manages to remain unobtrusive while serving its purpose. One may not marvel at the beauty of Operation Flashpoint's graphical offerings, yet rather, one will be in awe over the simplicity, which it uses to create a breath taking realistic effect. The attention of the game design in terms of graphics has been tactfully balanced across the spectrum of elements. Very little complex detail has been included in the design of the terrain and the other elements of the game, which the player cannot interact with, as these elements, which will be of little interest in the course of the game. Painstaking attention to detail has been paid to the objects of importance. The models of the vehicles are modeled on their true-life counterparts and therefore are remarkably realistic. This attention to detail is also reflected in the modeling and ?Äòskinning' of the soldier with which you cooperate and against which you fight. The faces of these soldiers have been detailed, yet not with one universal skin, but with dozens, all with their own characteristics. This serves as a testament to the intention of the graphics within the game, as the breaks in combat are often highlighted by a conversation between soldiers, a conversation that is made stingingly real by the detail of models. Operation Flashpoint's graphics and sound are utilitarian in design; in that they are created to serve the purpose of establishing enhance and polish the structure of realism, which the game develops.

Operation Flashpoint comes into its own in terms of game play. Fundamentally the game uses components, which do not break new ground, and are not particularly original. Yet what is so unique about operation flashpoint is that it manages to blend the tried and tested methods of its predecessors and blend them with elements it brings to the floor. The game fuses the genres of simulation, strategy and first person combat into one. It is this fusion, which provides remarkable depth of game play. In many missions the player will adopt the role of a driver for a brief period, then as a soldier in a squad in the midst of combat. It should be said however, that the game play favors the patient and those who are looking for a realistic experience, instead of an action packed war title. In order to ensure a relatively gentle learning curve, the designers have ensured that each aspect of the game play handles much the same way as the others. While inheriting some aspects of simulation games, it must be said that this is not an entirely true to life simulation. As not only would this require far more development, yet it would also imply a far harsher learning curve. This illustrates the fact that a realistic game must realize that in the course of providing realism it must still remain a game, and balance is an issue, which must be considered above realism. Despite this realism is still one of the focuses of the game design. There are varying degrees of realism in the game, which can be selected, ?ÄòCadet' mode and ?ÄòVeteran' mode. One allows the player to experience the game without having to worry about some complex realistic factors such as navigation and squad communication; this allows the game to be enjoyed by a wide variety of players. Death is a part of this realism, and a part, which is inherent in both settings. Death comes swift and unexpected at times even to the elite soldiers involved in warfare. This is demonstrated beautifully by the game. Despite its frequency death is not treated lightly. After the fatal wound, the player is showed their corpse and their assailant, along with a quote, which bears relevance. It is quite a fitting scene and provides a nice effect. The design of the missions is a factor in the game play. For the first part of your experience in Operation Flashpoint, you play as Private Armstrong, a grunt who plays the role of a typical soldier in the first few missions. As the game progresses, however, the player switches between alternate soldiers who play a series of different roles in the war effort, ranging from tank commanders to special operations soldiers. This allows for the game play to remain varied in its offerings. Unlike games which feature the same mission type repeated continuously in a different setting Operation Flashpoint attempts to ensure that each experience is far different from the previous. The game play is as open-ended as there are roles to be played in real combat. The artificial intelligence of the non-player controlled vehicles and soldiers of the game is incredible. The enemy will not mindlessly advance upon your position if you are entrenched, yet they will attempt to flank you, or to silently close within range of grenades. This AI assists the game play in providing a truly realistic experience.

The customizability of Operation Flashpoint is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of the mission editor into the release. This mission editor is virtually the same tool, which the developers used to create single player missions of the game. In addition to this, custom missions which are created by users are extremely small, usually no greater than a few hundred kilobytes, this ensures that transfer is easy. Bohemia Interactive have stated that they wish to ensure that Operation Flashpoint will continue to evolve through the medium of additional campaigns and missions to be released officially. In the single player campaign there is at least 30 hours of game play, when these extra missions are considered, the game life of this product borders on infinite.

The one aspect of Operation Flashpoint which is left wanting is its Multiplayer offering. Operation Flashpoint is a game, which will appeal to war enthusiasts, and gamers who are discontent with the unoriginal titles on the market. Gamers who are seeking an action game should look elsewhere as this game, in conforming with reality, has attempted to provide more than fast and furious combat. Yet rather, it attempts to be an all-encompassing war simulator. Thus far, Operation Flashpoint has transcended my high expectations and has refreshed my opinion of the current state of the gaming industry. It is a breath of fresh air and a step in the right direction.

By John Farnik - 12/10/01
ESRB Details: Blood, Violence

Screenshots for Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis


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