Games these days use so many methods to immerse you into the world they've created...like digital surround sound, high resolution, and five hundred actions mapped onto a sixteen-button controller. They employ professional scripts and voice actors, advanced methods of motion capture and graphics rendering. For the most part, they do a great job helping us get lost for a couple of hours, returning to reality long enough to invite a co-op buddy to join the mythos.
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising captures players in this way, drawing you into the struggle for occupation of an island off the coast of Japan. The game has no shame in its presentation, stealing its impressive opening timeline sequence straight from the Peter Berg-directed film, The Kingdom. The soundtrack is a mix of tribal beats and orchestrations, and more often than not will recall scenes from Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down. The story itself is a Tom Clancy clone, and pits the Russia against China in a bid for the fictional island Skira, which holds a critical resource for both countries: crude oil. The U.S. Marine Corps is called in to act on Russia's behalf against China...hence the title, Dragon Rising.
Get ready for a different kind of game, one that stays true to the roots of a first-person shooter while changing the way you approach enemies and keep yourself alive. Ballistics, inventory, vehicle control, and human limits will be among the opposition. Collecting ammo from dead bodies...eliminating radar stations to allow airstrikes...putting on your own tourniquets...these are some of the actions you'll take in order to ensure success, and each step puts you at the risk of catching a bullet from the next hill. The campaign is 11 missions long, which will take even the most hardcore player all of six hours on the easiest difficulty setting.
The very first mission of the Dragon Rising campaign gives you a taste of combat, but don't be put off by the blandness of the setting and the objectives; the campaign has quite a variety of flavors to it. You'll see a volcano, some woodlands, beachheads, and plains, but even more a stark contrast than the locations are the times of day that you'll deploy; from reinforcing another fireteam at dawn to organizing an airstrike at night to hunting tanks at noon...the visuals in this game -- particularly the lighting -- do a wonderful job of making you feel like you are experiencing true 'round-the-clock Marine deployment.
The 360 version (and possibly the PS3 which we did not play) of the game is absolutely gorgeous, and really closely resembles its PC counterpart in just about every aspect. The PC excels in draw distance and foliage amount, but above and beyond that the version are identical. In fact, they are so identical you can play the PC version with the 360 gamepad plugged in, which helps aid in some of the vehicles while driving. The other thing it aids in, unintentionally of course, is the squad command menu which uses a radial hybrid system that's incredibly clunky on a keyboard.