Flashpoint: Cold war crisis.
We haven't been looking forward to reviewing Flashpoint,
mainly because it's hard to know where to start.
So we have split the whole thing into very legible
(we hope) sections and will give you as always a
guide to the game from a H&D fans perspective, this
is after all why we are here.
what is it? (As if you didn't already know), a FPS?
Well no, a Tank Sim? er not exactly. A Flight Sim?
well yes, but no not really. It is in fact all three
bundled together into one of the most ambitious
wargames ever conceived, does it succeed? Well read
on and find out.
The year is 1985 and a bunch of heavily armed Russians
from a rogue communist faction have invaded a group
of NATO controlled East European islands. Your task
is simple, use all the available resources to beat
back the pesky Ruskies and be the all-conquering
Sounds easy? Think again! Czech developers Bohemia
Interactive have created a monster of a game that
breaks new ground in military sims, at its simplest
the game is a squad based first/third person shooter.
But this game has a twist, namely you have at your
disposal a mass of different vehicles and aircraft,
all of which can be commandeered and used to take
you into battle and blow the enemy to kingdom come.
That's it in a nutshell, but we wouldn't be doing
the game any justice without more details so here
comes the waffle.
this is pretty standard really; the game was shipped
with 11 Single missions ranging from special ops
demolition jobs to Helicopter/Tank attacks and a
campaign. Also included are 5 multiplayer missions,
but more on that later. Sadly there is no option
to play as either side in the campaign, so you start
your career as a lowly American Corporal in a small
To help you get around the map available during
the briefing can be called up at any point and displays
objectives, visible targets etc. A compass and watch
(should you need the time) can be popped up on screen
but unfortunately a bug renders these useless and
can only be used again by restarting.
So the campaign, well missions basically consist
of following your commander, shoot at the enemy,
attack/defend/blow up something and don't die. Well
maybe that's a bit over simplified, so here's a
rundown of one mission which will give you an idea
of the scale of the game.
Objective 1, attack a village getting past patrols
then destroy a AAA unit stationed there. Objective
2, Attack another village getting past more patrols
then destroy a second AAA unit. Objective 3, Run
for cover when enemy armour arrives on the scene
and wait while AH1 Cobra Helicopters blast them
with rockets and machine guns. Objective 4 hold
the village when even more troops arrive.
The player can only save missions at one point,
so you need to pick your moment carefully. At certain
points the retry position gets updated so with a
bit of caution you can effectively restart at two
points but this is best not relied upon.
In between these all action battles are cutscenes
(using the game engine) which help the story along,
and some "no action" missions where you meet so
and so and take something back to HQ etc. However
if there is one thing missing from the story its
continuity, just as you get into your role as Corporal
Armstrong you are magically teleported into the
body of a tank commander. Two missions later you
jump into the body a special ops commando, then
back to Corporal Armstrong again who is now a Lieutenant
in charge of his own squad. Eh? Ok the variation
is nice but it kind of spoils the flow of the story.
the vehicles in OFP are very detailed, the weapons
are a bit disappointing in 1st person view (very
reminiscent of the Delta Force games) but still
look quite good. Tanks/APC's and aircraft are all
excellent, all move quite realistically and watching
Cobra helicopter gunships attacking tanks etc is
a treat. Controlling them however is another matter.
Overall driving around in a vehicle is not too bad,
the controls are a little bit twitchy compared to
H&D. As for the aircraft well all we can say is
they will test the most battle hardened virtual
pilot. The lack of joystick support in the full
version is a bit strange; it's a shame because the
controls take most of the fun out of flying the
aircraft. Be prepared to put in some serious practice.
The vehicle physics are a mixed bag, hit an enemy
tank with a Sabot round or RPG and it will jump/rock
then skid about, very good. Hit a light vehicle
however and you could watch it leap 100 ft high
then spend 30 seconds bouncing around. There are
reports of mid air collisions leaving both parties
untouched and helicopters landing on their rotors
only to get airborne again. This really needs some
more work. Tanks etc have a damage indicator which
tells you when to run for cover, with support trucks
nearby a blackened tank can be fixed fairly quickly.
For some strange reason driving a tank into (shallow)
water will cause it to self-destruct. On the whole
I found driving around in tanks far less satisfying
than running around on foot, however watching a
bunch of M1A1 Abrams MBT's going into battle is
The soldiers are nicely animated though look a little
blocky, faces are pretty featureless (but then you
will be spending most of your time looking through
your sights). Stance options are the familiar Stand/crouch/prone
with the added ability to sprint as well as run.
The movements look ok, some enemies/team-mates when
sprinting look a little odd, almost speeded up but
on the whole its pretty good. Gore effects are by
modern standards pretty tame, no flying limbs or
sprays of blood, just some very red corpses lying
As with the vehicles men can be patched up by a
medic, it works better than the demo (the AI seems
better) and plays an important role in staying alive
long enough to finish a mission.
No huge range of weaponry to chose from here, equipment
is assigned to you and your team before you go.
Standard US weapons include M16/M16+ 203 grenade
launcher, M60 machine gun, HK MP5S, hand grenades
and sniper rifles. Demolition charges/binoculars
etc are available in some but not all missions.
Russians have equivalents e.g. AK47 that can be
harvested from dead bodies. Heavy weapons include
LAW's, RPG's etc for engaging armour. Only one main
weapon can be carried at a time although LAW's and
RPG's can be slung on shoulders with light weapons
the interesting bits, also at your disposal are
Tanks; M1A1 Abrams & M60 Patton. APC's; M113 and
a variety of jeeps and trucks. The Russians are
no lightweights with T72/T80 and T55 Tanks plus
BMP-1 APC's and ZSU-23 Shilka AAA guns.
If you get tired of ground warfare then you have
the option of taking to the air in AH1- Cobra/ UH-60
Blackhawk Helicopters or the formidable A-10 Thunderbolt.
On the Russian side are Mi-24 Hinds and Mi-17 Helicopters
but no aircraft. All can be steered from either
perspective but in general 3rd person is better
for getting around and keeping an eye on what is
an infantryman you have several view options, a
1st / 3rd person view which allows fairly accurate
aiming aided in both views by a right mouse button
zoom function. However the designers have added
a third option which switches to an "in weapon"
sight only view, this allows very accurate aiming
and enables special sights on LAW's and sniper rifles.
Grenades are aimed using a small circle, which frankly
seems to give little indication as to where the
thing will actually land; it's a shame because it
seemed to work well in the demo. (Or maybe I just
need more practice