Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising Review

Here is the first full retail review of Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising. This was reviewed by a Dutch magazine and has been translated. I have cleaned the translation up a bit.
Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising Review

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
is one of the most talked about shooters from the past years. And again, and again, the question was raised if Codemasters could pull it of without the help of Bohemia Interactive. Jan locked himself up in his room for a week with the review-version to give you guys the final word.

I have never been in the army, and I have no idea what it is like to fire a weapon in a combat situation. And let's be fair, playing games doesn't make you a soldier.On several occasions I did fire a gun once or twice, and i assure you that has got nothing to do with the shooting in a game such as Call of Duty, Rainbow Six or Killzone.

Still I feel that after playing Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (A game which has been haunted with delays) I have gotten a feel for how real modern warfare works.

It is filthy, it is tactical, it is deadly and a split second could be the difference between life and death. No, this game isn't for softies. This game will cost you blood, sweat and tears, but eventually the satisfaction is immense.


Choices may just be the best thing in Dragon Rising. Because you will get them a lot as a player in the intense campaign, which will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last bullet has been fired. The choice to attack a village from the left, right, front or back. The choice to switch your weapons and explosives at the munitions depot. Will you take the sniper rifle or will you keep the heavy machine gun? Sometimes you will have to decide quickly if you want your men to suppress the enemy or flank them.

If you have decided to bomb a village, you get to choose from 4 kinds of bombs, Segmented, Concentrated or Spread. During the formation of you squad, choose the types of bullets in your gun, the speed of the bullets when exiting your weapon, which grenades you will have as a secondary fire option, its all your choice. Choices, Choices, Choices, it just doesn't stop. And you hardly have the time to make them, because the enemy is advancing.

Camouflaged Bastard

Your enemy in this game? The Chinese who took possession of Skira because of the Oil supplies. China looks at the history of the island, and they determine that they are the rightful owners of the island. Russia however has an other opinion. America the self proclaimed police officer of the world gets involved in this matter, because its about oil non-the-less.

And this is how you get on Skira as an American soldier. This island is large, vast and dangerous. No hall-to-hall combat or invisible walls here. You enjoy the unlimited freedom to choose which way you should get to the enemy or objective. Most of the times this doesn't go well and you will die, and then you will try it again with a different tactic.

Will you go up that mountain? You will have a good view, but you can't stay there for long or you'll become a sitting duck.
It doesn't take you long to figure out that you have to keep moving and take strategic points as fast as possible. It also is of great importance to control your teammates as effectively as possible.

You will also discover that it is wise to recon the area really well before blowing up an enemy target. Logically, an explosion gets a lot of attention and then there is no going back.Sometimes you will hear bullets fly past your ears and hear your teammates yell: "Enemy, 300 meters, South!" But there is nothing to see, because the bastard is hiding in the bushes with his camouflage.
There are no enemies who will charge in front of you, no, your adversary is a full-blown enemy being controlled by amazing AI, which is cutting-edge.

Circle of Life

I played Dragon Rising on the PC and on the Xbox 360 and I was surprised to see how well the console version does in comparison with the PC. Of course the PC graphics can handle more and the game looks better on a PC. But the experience, atmosphere and tension is just as good on the console as on the PC.

When you are used to playing on console and PC, the PC has a large advantage over the console when it comes to controls. Console-only players will probably be overwhelmed with the amount of buttons you use to call out orders and use functions, the PC version however has all the functions laid out nicely over the keyboard, so I could quickly switch orders.

On the Xbox 360 and the PS3, the same actions are available but layered under many buttons. Which means that JJ (Another reviewer) was fiddling with the controls for about 2 hours. But don't let that scare you, because after a little while the controls on the Xbox 360 work really well too. With a press on the right bumper a menu comes up with subjects. When you have picked a subject another menu appears, examples with this are: Air Support, Different Attacks, Defences and Formations.

After a little while you learn to get through the menus pretty quickly. You will have to, because the right command will determine if you life or die. Dragon Rising makes me think of Brothers in Arms, but then with 10 times as many options.


The thing that probably impressed me most was the AI. Because the behavior of my teammates and the enemy is intelligent and convincing.Your teammates often see an enemy before you, which makes you feel a bit daft, using the binoculars and taking advantage of the environment is the best advice I can give you.

But the enemy also doesn't mess around. When they have noticed where you and your men are, they will do anything to pin you down and then smoke you out.

Your actions in the campaign will also determine the morale if your squad. At first I was a bit impatient and took a gamble to attack a bit too much. Several times my squad escaped death, if not wounded. So when I threw my men in another dangerous situation one squad member just took off. This however also works with the enemy. Because when you shoot at a lonely Chinese soldier and pin him down, he will run like the wind! And believe me, those moments are gold!

Man This is Good
As the campaign progresses, the tension gets up and the battle scale increases. Vehicles like jeeps, tanks and combat helicopters will play a bigger role, but still I enjoyed the action on the ground the most. Its an enormous rush when you are in the middle of a tank battle, and you and your squad flank to blow up some anti-vehicle stations. You really think you're in the middle of a war.
While in the background there are shots being fired and clouds of smoke fill the skies, I yell to my men to follow me to the next objective. The adrenaline rushes trough my veins and with sweaty hands I tighten the grip around my controller. Man this is heavy and wow this is good! Codemasters have done it.

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Other info:

True or False

Dragon Rising gives you an open world to fight in freely.

True and false. Yes you can go where ever you want and take a miles long detour, but it doesn't really accomplish anything. The routes of the missions are clearly laid out and the primary and secondary objectives are close to each other.

One shot One kill

100% true. Even in assisted mode a Rambo among us will have a tough job, let alone doing the hardcore mode. The AI is just too strong!

War isn't Man against Man

True. The 'bunny hopping' way you move in modern warfare is miles away from what a real soldier would do. He would rather fight at a distance. Snipers and calling in airstrikes are way more accurate then going guns blazing at the enemy. Dragon Rising shows how modern warfare works. Scouting and sniping are important roles.

You can break more stuff

Not really true. Yes, you can break more than in the first OFP, but the obstacles are still obstacles, even when they are made out of wood.

Really real weapons

True. In Dragon Rising you really have to take the wind and distance into account if you want to hit your target. It's really hard to hit someone. A deadly shot is also something that needs to be done the right way. On your knees or going prone, and not while your are gasping for breath because you just ran a whole lot. And an injured arm doesn't help either.

Variation in vehicles

Not fully true. Okay, there are APCs, tanks, boats and helicopters but fair is fair, Armed Assault II has alot more vehicles (blasphemy!)


Total Panic

For developers making wargames, recreating fear that soldiers have is one of the most important and also hardest objectives. How do you make the feeling that you get when you are begin shot at? Dragon Rising has raised the bar a bit higher. Of course a game is always far from reality, but we could really feel how a soldier feels better than ever in this game. A few examples why:

-When heavy weapons are firing, your surroundings become "gritty" and your screen really shakes. This also happens when there are bombs falling all around you. Because of the gritty look it is hard to find a safe place to sit, which seems normal to us.

-The harder you have been hit, the more blurry your vision becomes. If you don't do anything about your wounds you will get slower bit by bit. And after healing, an injured arm still isn't fully functional, which is a brilliant feature!

-Your men confront you when you give them a "dumb" order. And they scream when they are being ambushed or shot at.

-Your hear the bullets hitting the ground around you. And than you know that you are pinned. Your only hope is to run like a mad man.

-In most wargames you feel like you're the man when your in a chopper. In Dragon Rising this is different.You are still vulnerable to AA guns. That keeps you on your feet, the feeling that you can be hit at anytime is almost unbearable!

JJ gives it a shot

I will confess, I am a war freak. As a kid I regularly scored As for my essays and they were all about war. You can always wake me up for a good wargame. Modern Warfare is still next to my xbox, with FIFA 09.

Operation Flashpoint has been called the ultimate warsim by many. If you manage to survive in this game you are a real couch warrior. It's only normal that I was there as soon as possible when Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising rolled in! I wanted to know if I still had my commando blood.

Lack of patience

However I have 1 problem and that is that I have a chronic lack of patience. I can fight, and I can shoot, but to carefully plan a mission, choose weapons and than move your men strategically over the battlefield doesn't succeed much for me. I always look for the action.

A few hits

Although I even tried to (against my nature) flank and not attack full frontal on my own, my actions kept failing again and again.
The sublime AI in Dragon Rising stopped my one dimensional attack every time. And of course the Chinese fortified their positions. Yep, I should have secured my position.

Because you can die with just 1 hit in this game and healing is a tricky thing which really takes time, I died a whole bunch of times. This often meant that I needed to keep walking 10 minutes before arriving at the same point to try and take down the enemy. It really made me feel like stopping.


Thankfully I kept going, even though it was against my own instincts. Since you have to keep alert and can die at anytime, it makes this game way more realistic than those wargames which will let you walk away after being hit. Forget COD Modern Warfare, that is Hollywood-war. Dragon Rising lets you feel how it is like to operate in a combat situation. The fear of war is constantly with you, it takes your breath, I can guarantee you that. The action feels real close all the time, even when there is nothing happening. I felt desolate, and I enjoyed it.

The total panic when a helicopter opens fire on you, the complete feeling of having no change when attacking too soon or too late and getting surrounded. It's gnarly but that's how it works.


Dragon Rising made me throw away my Modern Warfare skills and play with my teammates and as real soldiers. Since a squad member in Dragon Rising is of great value, you protect them, and they protect you.

Every mission is a tactical puzzle with multiple solutions, which you slowly try to figure out, most of the time by doing nothing else but recon the area. But when the action breaks out and your plan turns out to work, the feeling of victory and euphoria is indescribable. It's why you play the game.

I'm not saying that I won't like Modern Warfare 2 now, but Dragon Rising really moved me. You have to bite tough, and then you will have a digital memory which will stay with you forever.

Conclusion: Codemasters have kept their word, they have taken their time and found a good balance between a hardcore warsim and an intense experience. And above that the console version is almost the same as the PC. Amazing.

Score: 90 - Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising Review

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Comments (2)


  1. dombo says:

    zo dus jij leest ook powerunlimited?

  2. Cowboy says:

    Nothing has come close to my joy with OFP:Resistance all patch, NOTHING, even arma was not OFP.
    Here is hoping they succeeded in allowing a 800m sniper kill and the ability to clearly see hardened targets out to 1500 meters, especially a helo in the air.

    x-military US

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