Terminal Gamer Review – Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is a taut, realistic war game that is both extremely challenging and equally rewarding.

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising pits you in the middle of the fight for Skira Island. Like the realistic scenario surrounding the game, the gameplay itself is highly realistic. This isn’t Call of Duty. One shot to the head will kill you. A shot in the leg will severely limit your ability to run, and wounds will affect your vision, your accuracy, and other factors. You will have to hide behind obstacles and locate enemies by where their fire is coming from. Suppress, flank, and assault their position. This is highly tactical, highly realistic warfare. As the back of the game’s packaging suggests, this is as close to war as you’ll ever want to get.

This is what makes Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, so wonderful. There are long moments of silence. Minutes where you are running across open fields and through trees, looking around anxiously for enemy forces. Every bomb, every shaking of the screen makes you jump. Enemy fire can come from anywhere. As soon as it does, you hit the ground and try and find the source. Find cover behind trees, rocks.

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is as real to war as you'll ever want to get

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is as close to real war as you'll ever want to get

The most frustrating thing about Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is its difficulty. Even on the easiest of settings, the enemy AI doesn’t get dumber. Rather, you have more aids to direct you during the heat of battle. Arrow markers on your compass highlight where enemy troops are located, markers hint where you should move to in order to have the best tactical overview of a situation, and enemy fire is colored red so that you can tell it apart from your own squads fire. The developers note in the manual that playing on the most realistic settings only means that you have to rely much more so on your own observations of the field than on handicaps that show you what to do or where enemies are. The core gameplay doesn’t change, and for gamers accustomed to Call of Duty and Half Life, the game’s difficulty and pacing can be extremely difficult.

The only complaint I have about the gameplay is that of your teammate AI. Often, I would be crouching behind a wall as enemy fire blazed around me and suddenly I would hear a scream. One of my teammates was down because he’d been standing out in the open. Though the AI could be directed to take cover, doing so wasn’t always easy. It would have been nice if the AI could have taken my lead or had the brains to figure out that if the PLA was shooting at us, they ought to take cover. Too many times I found myself stranded all alone because all of my squad mates had stood in the open.

The landscape of Skira Island is gigantic and visually gorgeous

The landscape of Skira Island is gigantic and visually gorgeous

In addition to the difficult but excellent gameplay, the technical prowess of Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is impressive. The game takes place on Skira Island, which is a nearly exact replica of Kiska Island, an Alaskan island in the Aleutian chain of the northern Pacific. The draw-distance of the landscape is a massive 35 kilometers, meaning that the high volcano on one end of the island is visible all the way from the other end. Bombs exploding miles away can be seen across the landscape, and binoculars can focus in on villages far down a mountainside.

While day and night cycles take place in the gameplay of Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, you will never see rain or snow, which is a disappointment, because the addition of rain and real weather effects could have made for an even more intense battle situation in which the enemy could be twenty yards away and not visible at all. Furthermore, the lakes and the ocean water in Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising offer no movement or wave action. They are flat. In hindsight, though, this is a minor issue.

The sound in Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is excellent. I constantly found myself turning the volume way up in order to hear the pop of weapons and feel as though I was really in the heat of battle. The radios crackle with static, enemy voices and screams sound frighteningly real, and the whirr of a helicopter flying overhead can be heard as it approaches from a distance. Bullets ricochet all around and birds sing in the trees.

The sound effects in Dragon Rising make you feel as though you are in the heat of warfare

The sound effects in Dragon Rising make you feel as though you are in the heat of warfare

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is a game that features stunning crescendos where there is no action at all and then, suddenly, a blazing array of gunfire and screaming shells. It allows for a wonderful balance of birds singing and bullets clanging, and as a military simulator, the sound effects should be as realistic as they get. And they are.

The Final Word

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is an excellent, immersive game. The background story behind the reason for the engagement is realistic and this serves to make you feel as though you really have been sent up from our Japanese bases to fight in Russia. The gameplay is brutally realistic, and though difficult to adjust to for the seasoned first-person shooter player, it is highly rewarding. The AI isn’t perfect and the lack of weather effects made me wish for what could have been several more intense scenes of battle, but overall, I highly recommend this game to anyone interested in playing a realistic shooter where one bullet can kill you and your squad is everything.

The Scorecard


+ Beautiful, huge landscape

+ Brutal, engagingly-realistic battles

+ Realistic story and scenario to rope you in

+ Excellent sound effects.

– The AI sometimes acts stupidly, choosing open ground over cover

– Lack of weather effects takes away from the realism of the world