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Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising – hands-on

Dragon Rising is ultra-realistic, far from the medipacks of Medal of Honor and even further from the regenerating health magic of Call of Duty. Yes, it’s one of ‘those’ games, the ones where bullets make you absolutely dead, or where, if you’re simply grazed by some shrapnel, the wound will pump blood realistically all over your uniform.

Codemasters have had to change uniform designs repeatedly as real-life military forces insist on updating them. Their gun models are meticulously crafted replicas of their real-life counterparts. They’ve a research document an inch thick about tracer rounds. Anybody would think they’ve got something to prove.

And they do. Since developers Bohemia split to make ArmA and its sequel, Codiemasters have been keen to prove just how much like the original Operation Flashpoint their own follow-up will be. It’s a battle of realism, and as we stupidly meandered up a hillside towards an enemy under cover, only to catch a bullet in the face, we realized who was on the winning team.

The AI in Dragon Rising has, according to the devs, had its systems built around an actual army handbook – a guide to, among other things, the correct way to move across a battlefield, the correct time to attack, and the correct time to take cover. In this instance, walking in a straight line towards an enemy encampment was not something the handbook would suggest.

Over the next few attempts we approached the situation using different methods. Taking pot shots from a distance worked well enough, causing the two enemy troops to remain behind cover. Coupling this with a command to our fire team to flank led to a successful bit of soldiering. Our men swept through a forest on the western side of the hill, meeting the enemy side-on and fatally propelling small bits of metal into their bodies. On another occasion, we sniped the enemy before they could get behind cover, only to have them jump out at the last minute in an I-wasn’t-dead-after-all sort of movement and shot us dead.