Dragon Rising doesn’t rise to the top

Few PC shooters truly capture the brutality of war. Many have tried but have fallen flat thanks to graphical limitations and complicated controls. Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising (a multiplatform shooter released on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3) however does not. Operation Flashpoint is set in fictional 2010 where China has invaded the Russian province of Skira (in reality an island off the coast of Alaska named Kiska) in order to obtain the islands coveted oil fields. Russia, which fears all out war on its eastern border, asks the United States to recapture the island on its behalf.

The game gives you that quick back story, along with a history of Skira and then leaves you and your squad to fend for yourselves. This is something that adds subtly to the realism, because real life soldiers do not know why they do what they do only that their objective must be accomplished.

Your only weapons on hand are an assault rifle and a sidearm. These weapons are useless at ranges longer than 40 meters, so a planned assault from a mile away is almost impossible. You do get a pair of binoculars, which are a life saver, enabling you to observe the enemy from greater distances.

Something else you will discover right away is that the map is overwhelmingly large. The island spans 32 kilometers and you don’t have any form of transportation. Your closest objective is two kilometers away; a distance that traveled on foot takes close to forty-five minutes in real time to traverse. The game does do a great job of making these treks extremely intense!

For example, after I destroyed a Surface-to-Air missile launcher I began a 950 meter walk to disable a radar generator. I sprinted gleefully, and confidently, over my triumph thinking that I was unstoppable. The sad reality was that I led my squad to their deaths. As I neared my objective an enemy sniper wounded me. As I bled out screaming “Medic” I was forced to watch as my squad scrambled to try and protect themselves.

As I watched the loading screen, I changed my tactics and eliminated the enemy far more effectively. However some things were very disappointing.

The game concentrates on realism, and the truth is, it’s not executed very well. The rate at which you switch weapons is extremely sluggish; it makes you wonder if your character tethered his weapons to his feet. Another main gripe is the abysmal vehicle controls. Your vehicles perform pathetically and you will indeed crash periodically which will give your position away to the incredibly smart AI). Finally the game ramps up the difficulty at the most inappropriate times. You will periodically see your enemy with more soldiers, weapons and air support. This also takes away from the “realism” when you’re on a “stealthy” recon mission and you are automatically eradicated by a helicopter. This makes the game almost impossible even on easy difficulty. Operation Dragon Rising is an ambitious title with a lot of good things about. Sadly it cannot compare with the more fun titles out there. If you want a military shooter that sticks to real life you should get this.

Overall the concept is amazing; dive into the boots of a marine and fight for your life in a realistic fashion. Trust me; you get a lot of bang for your buck. However, throughout the game you can’t help but feel the developers could’ve worked a little bit harder on the controls, and game play instead of the graphics.