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Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Fail

I've spent over 2 weeks with the PS3 version of Operation Flashpoint 2 trying to really get into the game. By the end of that 2 weeks I was toasted. The game developer Codemasters is offering a different take on the completely flooded market of First Person Shooters that have come to dominate the industry. Seriously, next time you go to GameStop take a look at the XBOX 360 or PS3 game racks and count how many dudes with guns you see. Honestly there hasn't been a whole lot to get excited about lately. OPF2 is intended to be a combat simulator and this fact alone is what gained my attention as soon as I heard about it. Finally, somebody is trying to do something a little different with an FPS. It sounded too good to be true. No longer shall you be a hero taking countless bullets, wading through ridiculous plot lines and playing yet another stereotypical bad ass character. This was my chance to experience the real deal of combat. Move over Private Ryan and you suck Matt Damon.

The games story uses history to set up a fictitious conflict between Russian and China set in the future , where they battle for control for the Island of Skira. The reason these two super powers go to war is over an ever decreasing resource "Oil". Of course whenever there is oil involved, America has to stick it's fat ass in the middle of it and start shooting up the place. Other than that the Story eludes me, sorry. The games menu and whole introduction to the situation has an excellent presentation that uses good design, typography and music that matches the locale. This was my favorite part of the game. Yes, I really did just say that. I was pumped to land on Skira, paint my face, be all tactical and shit after that.

Operation Flashpoint 2 does do some things right when it comes to the simulation aspect of the game. The weapons and vehicles look authentic, enemies use real world combat tactics against you, bullets can kill you instantly, and your challenged to think on your toes to come up with your own strategies to complete objective based missions. Once on the island, you're free to go where you please and complete the objectives however you want. Your in complete control of your four man AI squad. This comes as a blessing and your worst nightmare at the same time. The control of you AI squad mates is what really brings this game down especially in the single player campaign.

For the most part the Squad AI works pretty well and they do a good job of following orders, even though sometimes they will occasionally do something stupid; such as standing in the way of a wall of bullets instead of perhaps, ducking for cover. What I found much more difficult was actually issuing commands to my squad. It funny since the command menu is called "The Quick Command Menu" and it's anything but quick. Yes it is true that you can push one button to enter the command menu, but after that's it a frustrating mess. The main problem is there isn't a effective way to quickly select which squad member you want to give orders to. Say, for instance you want only squad mate 4 to suppress fire at a group of enemies to the north. You'll first need to bring up the "Quick Command Menu", select squad mate 4 using the left analog stick, press X to highlight him, then use the right analog stick and press up, down, left or right to cycle through a list of commands. Then highlight the area you want squad mate 4 to suppress and tap R1 to execute the order. Now in order to have your other squad mates accept a command your going to need to deselect squad member 4 and repeat the process above. By the way if you want to give just squad mate 4 other commands later your going to have to go back and highlight him yet again! As you can see it can get quite complicated to do this effectively in a battle situation. For the first 2 hours of gameplay I thought I was seriously missing something or was doing it all wrong. But, sadly its just the way it was designed. I eventually managed to get the basic hang of controls, but its going to take anyone some serious time and lots of practice to use the command system effectivley. I found it much easier to just control one squad mate and have the others just follow me around as back up. You can spend the time to send your men out and command them from afar but once things start to go wrong, its just a frantic pain in the ass. You might as well chalk up the controls as another victim of being on a console. It seems that there could have been some work around, heck even voice control would have been nice. The controls ends up making an already difficult game harder than it already is. If setting up your strategies was a little bit easier, it possibly could translate into actual fun. I think the PC crowd definitely has a one up on the control aspect of the game.

I think this game could work for some people if they have a serious group of hardcore friends and attack the games campaign mode through multiplayer co-op. Most of these issues of control would go away by the simple aspect of voice chat. Even if that was in place, I still have some reservation about the game. On the PS3 version I didn't find a whole lot of people playing online. When I did, half the people had no headsets and hardly any communication was taking place. There are also some things about the game that makes me feel like they may have pushed this game out the door too soon in order to beat the Modern Warfare 2 launch date. Mainly there are weird quirks with the realism aspect of the game. There are moments where you can shoot an enemy from a far distance and when you hit them they don't react. You can take your sweet time and just take them out one bullet at a time until they fall over. Another example is you can shoot enemies in the legs as they are running and again no reaction is registered. They will continue on the same speed as if you were shooting spit balls at them. These weren't just random events, but happened on a regular basis. I can understand shooting someone who is wearing body armor, that not every bullet isn't going to stop them, but for the enemy AI to act as if nothing is happening at all seems like a huge oversight. It kills any sense of realism they were trying to accomplish and throws it out the window. The best example of this is when you shoot at enemies who are manning a mounted turret on the back of a Jeep. They'll stand like frozen statues until you shoot them to death. Heck even the Jeeps driver just sits back and enjoys the show and waits gleefully for his turn to be shot up. I know this game is meant to be a simulation, but these guys sometimes act more like robots than people. Another thing that kills the realism aspect of the game is that you can't even blow up a tree or really effect the games environment. Some buildings will blow up, but that is about it. I didn't know trees were made of steel, did you?

Your not going to like this game if you are into the standard FPS format of run and gun. In OPF2 your going to spend a lot of time shooting enemies on the ground from afar using scoped weapons. Anything close range is a dangerous proposition and will most likely end in death. This sets up for a very different experience all around and sometimes its a little boring since you spend a lot of time on foot, crawling and hiding from the enemies. When you do get into a serious combat situation its can be very intense, you'll always have that sense that at any second you going to bite the dust. At first it was fun, but after awhile I grew tired of it. If it sounds like fun to you, have at it. I would recommend checking out the PC version and finding three other friends to play the online campaign co-op.

The rest of the game, including multiplayer (don't get me started about the laggy Helicopters) for me was mediocre and it felt like OPF2 could have used a little more time in development getting fine tuned. This game has Burned Toast written all over it.

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