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The Game that could have been: Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising

Be forewarned: I love tactical games, and I love a great story.

As much as I like twitch-shooters like COD and HALO, the most I've ever had was playing split-screen co-op on Ghost Recon with my friends, my brothers, and my girlfriend. With the collective hours we spent on those games, we could've solved most of the world's problems, but on to Dragon Rising.

I could tell a long, boring, sob story about how the game came in out in very sub-standard condition, with a multiplayer component that was, for all intents and purposes, broken, and how that the MP has yet to be repaired on the Xbox 360; or how many of the developer promises were undelivered upon the October 6th, 2009 release date; or how a lot of the fine details standard in wargaming are left out and the immersion is practically killed; or how Codemasters is now charging for DLC that was promised to be in the game at launch for the consoles; or how Codemasters said that the initial DLCs would be free; or how the developers probably ruined one of the best, most loyal fanbases in all of gaming.

But I won't. It's well-documented on their forums.

The great tragedy of Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is that it was the most realistic shooter on consoles, and, at the end of it all it didn't say anything real.

The Singleplayer campaign is about six hours long and consists of mere "go here, kill this" style gameplay. Yes, there is a story, but God, is it bland: the People's Liberation Army invades tiny, Russia-controlled Skira Island for oil, and the United States Marine Corps is sent to take it back.

I never gave two fucks about any of the characters, and the game never gave me a chance to even try. The only two things your AI squadmates ever utter are "We have to get moving!" and "Oorah!"

On the brutal battlescape of Skira, where catching an unlucky ricochet is the difference between making it out alive and bleeding to death in some meadow, was a chance to actually say something about warfare unironically.

Even though Call of Duty has blared the "war is hell" mantra through a megaphone (especially with COD 4, and hopefully again with MW 2), the irony of trying to say that while presenting warfare in a cartoony, bullet-infested, action movie way lessens the impact of the message.

The Brothers in Arms series did a better job (especially in regards to character development) up until Gearbox threw the realism of the combat in the shitpile with Hell's Highway (probably at Ubisoft's behest), and the story got more heavy-handed, corny, and weak.

No commentary on modern war, no parallels with current conflicts, no homages to film or literature, no theme, no metaphor, no character development, no depth, NO NADA VATO LOCO. The entire story arch can be summed as "The US wins in 11 missions, and we get a little pat on the ass from our unseen command through voice-over."

In some way, the lack of a solid story is just a microcosm of the game itself: it just generally lacks on all levels. I guess I really shouldn't be surprised, but damn is it disappointing.

Maybe soon I'll get a computer that can run the game, and I can join the PC guys in tailoring the game to my own ridiculous expectations, but I have my bets that the game will be dead soon, and I get to just wonder what could have been the best FPS of this console generation.
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About Jas86one of us since 6:33 PM on 10.09.2009

Poor English B.A.
Xbox LIVE:MorningGlory13


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