Name: Operation Flashpoint
Developer: Bohemia Interactive Studio's
Price: £29.99
Min System Spec: PII400 64mb Ram 3-D Card
Recommended System Spec: PIII600 128Ram 32mb 3-D card
Official Web Site http://www.flashpoint1985.com
Reviewed By: Fugue & Mack

Continued.......

Sounds.

In short pretty good but nothing special, the gun sounds could have been a bit meatier but are ok, some are crying out for mods which will hopefully start appearing soon. Vehicles sound good, in particular approaching tanks which rumble and smash their way through trees etc. One annoying aspect is the rather tedious radio voice, you can hear too much of "Oh no! 2 is down" etc etc.

There is a very odd footstep bug in the game, although not a huge problem it can be distracting trying to work out why it sounds like you have a platoon marching next to your ear when no one is moving.

The Graphics.

What most people want to know is how the game looks, well imagine something between the Delta Force series and H&D with a very large splash of green paint and that pretty much sums it up. However despite the rather blocky appearance, vast repetitive maps and somewhat flat features the shadows and lighting add real depth to the game. The game has a mass of settings and tweaks to suit just about any set-up, with a reasonably fast system and hardware T&L enabled it does look very nice indeed.

Communications, Control Menus.

Most of the vehicles/aircraft are steered using a combination of mouse and keyboard and despite the slightly twitchy feel work reasonably well with a bit of practice. All the in-game actions are managed by system of menus, some happen automatically such as mounting a vehicle, while others like switching weapons and reloading have to be controlled manually.

The communications are a little complicated; a single key brings up a main menu, which leads to a series of sub-menus. Initially navigating your way round all the options is a bit of a nightmare, but the most frequent commands are easily learnt and can quickly be hammered out on the keyboard. It has to be said the radio voice which relays commands is slightly annoying and very monotonous, aside from that the whole set-up is pretty good.

Artificial Intelligence.

AI, the ruin of many a good game, thankfully this is one aspect that OFP handles very well. As part of a team you are issued commands telling you to shoot soldier here etc and the rest of your buddies behave in a suitably intelligent manner. Once in command however you begin to appreciate the programming, issue an instruction and the selected man/men will follow it to the letter. Leave them to their own devices they follow you in formation and react well to enemy contacts, very good if you don't feel like organising your entire squad.

Equally good is the enemy AI, fire off a few rounds at an enemy patrol and they will duck, crawl, return fire and sometimes flee at full pelt. One little gripe would have to be what happens if you are on your own and don't fire, lay still on the ground and the entire patrol will walk right over you. Apart from that it's all pretty good.

Multiplayer.

Oh dear. Where to start? Well this is really one aspect of the game that leaves OFP floundering because the game has been released with just about the worst possible multiplayer support. Only 5 missions in total? Only 1 co-op mission, and no Team Death Match? Setting up a game is slow and not exactly user friendly. Coupled with the fact that the game is unplayable when hosting on a 56k modem you really have to wonder why the game has been released in this state. Codemasters have stated the US update due in September will include optimised multiplayer code and dedicated servers.

To quote the official press releaseā€¦

"Codemasters is also committing to producing a free online play upgrade that will optimize the network code and enable European players to utilize the multiplayer functionality across dedicated servers as they're introduced in August. The upgrade software will be available for free download from Codemasters' web site."

So maybe all is not lost, as it stands broadband users are finding the game playable online connecting through TCP/IP or Gamespy arcade. Some 56k users also say joining a host using ISDN/DSL is also ok, but numbers are limited to two or three players.

If you are looking to OFP for a multiplayer experience all we can say is wait until the US release, it's a shame that this aspect is so poor because the game has so much going for it.

Mission Editor (reviewed by Mack)

Operation Flashpoint comes with one of the best mission/level editors I have seen in a game, its also very easy to get started editing, which is a good job considering the instructions are very poor, that's if you can find them (on the root of the CDRom in a readme).

Any way the editor will allow you to do almost anything except change the terrain features, instead it gives you 4 very large island maps to use as your template to create your missions. The islands are huge and include forests, towns, villages, mountains, desert, plains and just about any other terrain type you could want. To give you an idea of the size of the islands, it would take hours for you to walk from one end to the other.

The editor comes with an easy to use interface that has a picture of the map in a central viewing window and several other windows that contain information about the units etc. To simplify its use all you do is point and click onto the map, you tell the editor what unit you want to place on the map and then click your mouse and its done. You have total control over whatever you place, for instance you can chooses what side the unit will be (East or West), its rank, what it is (car, tank, man, helicopter, plane etc) you can even place whole groups in formation. You then set basic waypoints by clicking around the map, waypoints can also be edited, for example: you can tell any unit to seek and destroy at a particular waypoint, set its formation and even to hold fire, the options are quite staggering. So within about 1 hour of reading the instructions you can have whole platoons racing around the maps blowing each other to pieces.

The hardest part of the editor to master are the triggers, these are placed around the map to trigger certain events. For example I set a trigger near a US base, the trigger was "if any eastern block units come within a certain distance of this trigger sound the alarm in the base. At the same time move a camera to the incoming units, pan it around and print text on the screen saying "Hold the base at all costs". This all may sound hard to do but it's really easy with a little practice. The commands get more complex than this, but nothing too hard, practice makes perfect. You can also preview your mission at anytime by simply pressing a button. Excellent stuff.

So overall I think anyone will be able to get some use out of the mission editor, before long you will be adding cut scenes, briefings and making levels to rival the ones that came with the game.

On the downside it does have its bugs, I was sent crashing to my desktop many times, very frustrating if you had a few hours of unsaved editing in progress. But if you save often (as I should know by now) you can get by until the patches are available.

Conclusion.

Well as a single player game OFP excels, it's a truly ambitious attempt to recreate large-scale battles on land and in the skies. The missions are well designed with a reasonable amount of variation, despite a fairly long list of niggling little bugs it is very playable. What does let it down is the multiplayer game, which for all but broadband users is pretty useless. If you are looking for a challenging, tense and engrossing game then look no further, it's by far and away the best wargame since H&D.

Back to start

 

Fan Sites

Seventh
Flashpoint.com

 

Editor Pic 1
Editor Pic 2
Editor Pic 3
Editor Pic 4

Reviewed on

Windows 98
PentiumIII 450
256mb Ram
Geforce2 MX
DirectX 8.0
and
Windows 98
Athlon 1GHZ
256mb Ram
Geforce2 MX
Sonic Fury


How it Performed
PIII 450
Ran smoothly at resolutions up to 1024*768 32 bit with Hardware T&L, occasional slow down when starting missions. No crashes or major problems apart from random locking up on exit.

How it Performed
Athlon 1GHZ
Ran smoothly at resolutions up to 1024*768 32 bit with Hardware T&L, and all detail on max.
No stability problems except game bugs.

Score
Single Player
8/10
Score
Multi Player
2/10

Reviewers Comment
As a single player game OFP takes some beating. It's tense, atmospheric and hugely enjoyable. There are many small bugs that don't detract too much from the gameplay but are so obvious you have to wonder how they got past the testers. Multiplayer is a huge let down. Hopefully by the time the US version is released these issues will have been resolved. As it stands it is still one of the most ambitious games I've ever played but in my opinion should not have been released so early.

 

 

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