Flashpoint 2 – First Impressions (Xbox 360)

Once there was this game called Operation Flashpoint, and it was awesome.  Awesome how?  Well, it was a first person shooter that really made you duck.  In retrospect, ducking while sat at a computer screen probably wasn’t all that effective but it probably game some computer nerds some much needed exercise.  The tension and excitement was palpable, it had a realistic feel that was unknown to gaming up until that point.  Flashpoint was rather unique for the time in that it didn’t involve running around like Rambo, guns blazing.  You weren’t some super warrior, instead you were a mere grunt in the US Army, fighting a conventional war with the USSR in 1985.  You were a single soldier among thousands of equals, and this is what made it great.  The battles were vast affairs, fought over very large fields with aircraft, ships, tanks, and other assorted vehicles, all of which you could use.  There’s nothing quite like roaring into battle in a farm tractor.  This was all a long time ago, so please forgive me if this description is a bit rose tinted, but I do remember playing it and all expansion packs to the end, so it must have been good.  So it was with a sense of nostalgia that I saw Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising for sale while out shopping at the weekend.

I am happy to report that Flashpoint 2 follows in the same vein as the original.  The small fish in a big pond feel is still there.  The graphics are obviously vastly improved and of a high quality.  The sound effects are suitably realistic.  The game, put simply, is great fun to play.  Xbox live takes the game to the next level with multiplayer co-op.  If you were a fan of the original then you will not be disappointed.  Inevitable comparisons with ‘Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare’ will be made, and I think both games are equally good but at different things, as I shall mention.

In single player mode, Flashpoint is the vastly superior game.  The missions are a big improvement, they are much larger, with much more realistic enemy behaviors.  The fact that you can use vehicles adds a massive new dimension.  In comparison, COD 4 single player seems very ‘arcade-y’.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but Flashpoint is definitely the more engaging game.  This superiority also applies to multiplayer co-op, as here COD 4 is rather limited.

Where COD 4 really comes up trumps is the multiplayer PvP.  I’ve played a few PvP missions on Flashpoint, and to be honest they are quite dull.  The maps are simply too big for the number of players.  Yes it sounds exciting to be able to drive a tank into the enemy base killing their dudes, but in reality its a lot of sitting around waiting for the enemy to attack, or for your team to walk the 2 miles to the objective.  Where COD 4 is also a winner is in one specific area of realism.  In Flashpoint you can literally shoot an enemy 3 or 4 times before they fall over.  With a single shot sniper rifle this can take what seems like an age.  COD 4 seems that little bit more realistic in that one well aimed shot is generally enough.

So to summarise, Flashpoint 2 is a great game.  If you’ve got friends then go team up for some fun co-op.  Even if you’ve got no friends Flashpoint is still very good.  If however you’re a bit 1337 and your friends happen to be n00bs in need of a good pwning, then you’re probably better to stick with COD 4.