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Operation Flashpoint: Badger Rising.

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Good Morning Flash Pointers

With my PC out of commission for a while, I’ve been missing my sessions in the surprisingly good “ARMA II” and with withdrawal biting my ankles and some cash from Santa left over, I found myself reconsidering the 360 version of “Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising.”

Originally it was this title and not “ARMA II” which caught my fancy back when both were still only residents of the rumour mill. (Being a graduate of the original game and its mission packs) But then I started to hear whispers about problems with “Dragon Rising” and eventually I succumbed to the action packed charms of “ARMA II” which as I say turned out to be rather good and ran much better on my PC than I had expected it to and effectively made the other potential purchase pretty much redundant on either format.

In any case another black mark fell against the 360 outing of “Dragon” in the form of comments about it being savagely cut down version compared to its PC counterpart.

Here’s the thing about “Hobson’s Choice” though, it does tend to lend you a certain degree of clarity and since I was missing that style of gameplay and since a little slice of what I fancy while waiting for the chance to repair my PC, certainly can’t do me much harm… and while I had the exact right amount in my pocket.. what the hell. Who cares if it is or isn’t cut down compared to the PC version, I wasn’t ever going to get the PC version anyway!

Well having now had the chance to play the first scenario through, I’m thinking that weighing up the pros and cons so far, I have on balance made a good decision and I thought I’d tell you a little about it.

Tackling those cons first….

Probably the negative comment that concerned me most up front, was the accusing fingers pointing at the dodgy team AI and I can certainly confirm that even having benefited from whatever updates have been thrown at it thus far (The game update when I first ran it did seem a bit quick) I have seen my team make a few questionable decisions regarding both their personal safety and their interpretations of my brilliant (natch) orders.

To share two cases in point, I watched my squad stand in full view on a ridge while OPFOR ripped them all new ones and make no attempt at all to use nearby cover, before announcing not so surprisingly.. “Shit! Four..is..down!” or the ever green “I’m not even supposed to be here!” Before curling up their collective toes and leaving me to fight the good fight all on my lonesome.

On another occasion I ordered my squad to assault a position on a hilltop, only to have them bizarrely interpret this as “Drive down that road… ignore the hill and plow straight into the arms of the enemy armour waiting around the bend!”

Another black mark I’ve noticed, is awarded to … now I’m not sure of the technical term here.. would it be “clipping”? At any rate, in one of my attempts to take the aforementioned hill, I decided to have my men lay down a suppressing fire from downstairs, while I crept up the hill heroically and surprised the Chinese from behind! (Probably not a sentence I’d have predicted typing today.)

I got all the way up to the ruins beside the rocks the enemy squad was perched behind, which as “Chekov” might say, was “close enough to smell them” (No, not that Chekhov!) and stood up to shoot them all over the top of the wall, only to have my bullets bounce right off that wall, even though I well and truly had “line of sight” clearance. OPFOR had no such problems reaching me though! Game over player one! Clearly the game was not happy with my approaching to such close quarters, at least on this occasion. So is that “Clipping” then?

The other issues I’ve had thus far were in fairness due to limitations on my part rather than the games. The pallet in use is pretty tricky for me with my colour blindness, which coupled with the fact that most encounters begin at least as far as 200mtrs out, really makes OPFOR damn tricky to locate.

In a similar vein I’ve found that I really have to resort to my glasses (which I have to be prodded to wear) in order to read waypoint and equipment info and even to a lesser degree, menu options. I have a feeling though that my playing in standard resolution is not helping me too much in this regard.

But enough bitching already, I did say there were also pros right?

Rather than make a list like the cons, I think I can pretty much sum this bit up with one word… Immersion! But you already know I’m not going to use just one word right?

Yes the fact is that despite the above niggles I found myself completely engrossed with the ongoing recon mission for over two and a half hours and simply didn’t notice the time go by! And keep in mind that your Badger does not generally play for longer than an hour at a time before starting to get that attention span itch.

“Dragon Rising” is not really big on the clear instruction front (should that have been a con?) and the first mission is I guess probably as close as you’re going to come to a tutorial, in that instructions pop up on screen from time to time (if you can read them) and certain in game objects are perhaps a little on the …convenient side in their placement, as though they’re pretty much a helping hand for the newbie.

The mission consists of six independent objectives, (seven if you include the extraction) three primary and three secondary, although I didn’t realize this at first and had to play it through once and see all the “failure” headings to realize that I was missing the boat a little due partly to my being blind as a bat and partly due to some of the objectives not showing up until you have completed previous ones. My second attempt was a little more professional I’m pleased to say.

First an early warning radar system has to be taken out and a landing zone secured. Then three separate SAM sites must be dealt with as well as a “Sunburn Anti Ship System” (nope, never heard of it, but it’s one of those stonking great rocket jobbies you see driving by in that old footage of Russian parades, except it’s… um..Chinese?) before heading back to the extraction zone for a helicopter dust off. (That might be a square dance.. if so, apologies to military experts.)

You’re thrown straight in at the deep end with a fire team of four (including you) to boss around and orders can be issued either via a quick order system activated by the right shoulder button, or more comprehensively via the map screen. The action keeps flowing while you look at the map though, so it’s not necessarily a good idea to be unfolding this while the Chinese soldiers are trying to ventilate you.

This seems like a pretty small squad with which to go up against the numbers you’ll meet during the mission. But things are kept in balance by the fact that you only meet them pretty much one squad at a time and also you have a handy bandage set in your pack with which you can heal some pretty nasty wounds on either yourself or your squad mates, as long as you can reach them in time that is. If you don’t, well its curtains for them I’m afraid. (I’m fairly sure that the enemy will be evident in larger numbers as the missions play out, but as yet I can’t say.)

The manual suggests that if you don’t use good strategies and if you order your men into suicidal situations, they may hesitate and might not even follow your orders at all. Whether this is clever programming or just a device to disguise dodgy AI, remains to be seen.

Having blown the early warning system with a demo charge and secured the landing site, I “borrowed” an enemy gun mounted jeep and set about tackling the SAMs. A dusty road ran the length of the tiny island, but thoughtless progress along it was an easy way to get ambushed and in any case two of the SAMs and the “Sunburn” were all off the beaten track.

The first SAM saw my team crouched on a ridge (yes the same ridge mentioned in the cons) with a fairly simple (after one checkpoint replay) task of taking out an unaware enemy below.

The second saw me surprised by a roving patrol. A firefight which also alerted the SAM soldiers and so became a more protracted affair. The best part of this though was that on the nearby beach, these folks had parked a troop helicopter! So that became my ride of choice afterward.

For the third I decided to survey the site from above before landing in a likely looking spot where I might have the advantage… anyone see the bent logic there?

Yep… I flew over an active SAM site in an unarmed Helicopter and just about had time to say “oooh look at all the little stick men” before I paid the price for this astute plan!

Back to my save point and this time I landed the Helicopter a ways out and headed in on foot. I have to say that this section was probably my favourite part of the mission, as the road to the lighthouse where the last SAM stood, had its approach guarded by a squad of men on a hilltop (yes, the same hilltop) and I had to try out a number of different plans before I successfully neutralized them and could make my way on.

Even then my first time around the hill ended in disaster as an unseen APC wiped out my entire squad! But a trip back to the top of the hill and I found some ammo crates which now I looked actually contained an anti armour missile system. (Javelin?) Convenient? Certainly, but I suspect all part of the semi tutorial nature of this first mission. In any case it made short work of the APC!

Well….. strictly speaking the first time I tried it make short work of a jeep as I chose the wrong target, after which the APC took my virtual head off.. again! But eventually the armored beast fell to my frightening military efficiency!

After which it was back to the extraction zone in my borrowed helicopter (pretty intuitive to fly by the way, but I wouldn’t want to try it out under fire just yet!) and congratulations all round.

So there you have it. Pleasantly surprised so far and while there’s plenty of time yet to fall victim to some of the niggles people have reported and while I have as yet even to think about its multiplayer side, (rumour about which suggests it is broken) I’ve certainly had plenty of fun so far and I’ve got my fingers crossed there’s plenty more to come.

Badger

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Good to see you back on 'Simian ground, Bahjuh :)]

Nice writeup, as per usual. :thumbsup:

I have the Steam download version of Badger, er, Dragon Rising.

I, too, have a list of cons about the game ... but they are written on a pad of paper that's ten feet away in the other room and I don't feel like getting up.

What I recall about the game that I do like is the way enemy fire impacts around you in a fire fight. To describe it in a single word, I'd have to go with that ol' simming buzzword: immersive. I've never been shot at in anger for real, but in this game, I genuinely felt a higher level of urgency when the rounds were thudding next to me, and the tracers were whizzing over, under, and beside me.

To wit, in that first mission, after you've called in the artillery to wipe out the guys in the village, you get that jeep with the 50 in the back and head up the road to secure the landing zone. That's when some bad guys pull up in two jeeps and the fire fight is on, big time! In the ensuing shit storm, I would order my guys to flank left while I would hunker down behind the remains of a stone wall. It was while hunkering behind said stone wall that the baddies would be peppering the livin' heck outta that wall and I tell you, the sight of tracers, and the thudding rounds, and the dirt spraying, and my own blood getting in my eyes ... it was really impressive. It's hard to put it into words, but let me try: did you ever find yourself running away from a person you knew was going to beat the crap out of you if he caught you. You know that Abbott and Costello feeling you get when you are running as fast as you can and the adrenaline is pumping and you are like Aaaaaaaaaaabbbbbbbbbbbooooooootttttttt! Well, that's how I felt behind that wall. I was literally ducking in my chair, for real, and muttering Jesus H. Keeeeeee-rist! (sorry for being profane, but hey, that's what you say).

But, as great as that was, there are some real shortcomings to Dragon Rising and as such, I still prefer ArmA II. But I am interested on your take on these things, Badger ol' bean, so please keep us updated on your progress.

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