A superb strategic first person shooter for PC, developed by Bohemia Interactive, and distibuted by Codemasters. It is to be relased in June of 2001.

When the demo was released in March, it was quickly and rather unanimously proclaimed to be the best strategic FPS ever. Indeed, the feeling of immersion is quite extreme. Things like going prone, aiming, moving under fire, spotting, and other such warlike things are implemented with a stunning sense of realism. Even discerning the enemy from friends can be something of a challenge. If you've ever been to the army, either by conscription of by choice, you should know what I mean.

Not only can you run around, killing bad guys with your M-16 (though nothing prevents you from expressing yourself with an AK-47, loaned from the enemy you just shot), you can pilot anything ranging from trucks to aeroplanes. As far as I know, any vehicle you can destroy, you can also pilot. Even the tanks.

It will also include Multiplayer, which has the potential to be the biggest thing since Doom. Just imagine the realism of Counter Strike combined with the Team Play enhancements of Tribes. The learning curve should be kinda steep, which would eliminate the most impatient teens and team killers, leaving an enjoyable Multiplayer experience for the rest of us.

See also: http://www.operation-flashpoint.net/

As opposed to mere speculation about the game, I'll tell you instead about my experiences with it. While its still not scheduled for release here in the us for a number of months, I managed to get a copy anyway. My thoughts:

Quite possibly the best game I've even played. Well, it may not end up being my favorite, but the detail in this game is amazing. Not the texture resolution mind you, but the different ways it can be played and the different game types mixed. It begins as your standard fps affair, but as the game progresses, you first learn to work as part of a squad, then command a squad. You'll also learn to drive an M1A1 tank, and fly a Cobra gunship among other things. Its a FPS sure, but its much more. Strategy, Role Playing, Simulation, its all their. I accidentally shot one of my squad in the head, I genuinely felt bad about it. That's the level of involvment this game has.

The AI is simply generations ahead of what I have played against before. Unlike, say, the Delta Force series, your teammates act logically and intelligently, in fact, sometimes you find yourself riding the coattails of your brilliant teammates. The enemies will run when they need to, throw grenades at the right time, call in the tanks when they hear a disturbance, etc. They hit the deck when being fired upon, and hide when they're outnumbered. Overall, extremely impressive AI.

The maps are amazing too -- none of this 'We only generated a box X big, so don't run that way, or you'll reach an imaginary wall'. These are fully rendered entire islands, and they're pretty massive. I'd estimate an hour or so irl to run from one end to another on foot, much less via vechicle of course.

Overall, a very engrossing game. I'll definitely buy it when its finally released here in the us, if just for the documentation. Its well thought out and well implemented, with a plot to boot. Its the best game I've played since Jagged Alliance. If you enjoy any of the genres it takles and want a challenging game, this is it.
Operation Flashpoint is an astounding first-person military sim, and is seen as the "breakthrough" title in the genre. Arguably, it is the best computer game about war ever made. Bohemia Interactive are a Czech coding team whose founders were apparently ex-soldiers, and this familiarity with the subject matter certainly pays dividends.

The atmosphere in the game, and the feeling of tension and fear, is unprecedented. Painstakingly edging through a village with your comrades (controlled by either the more than adequate AI, or even better, other players over a network) requires skill and concentration, with a radio system allowing for orders to be issued fairly easily. There are no on-screen targeting aids, and everything in the game is modelled as realistically as is practical.

You can't expect to fire with pinpoint accuracy when running, or shrug off being shot in the leg. The readme file describes such obsessive little touches as missiles being affected by the weight of fuel in their tubes, and AI soldiers putting on night vision goggles as appropriate. You can shoot the drivers of vehicles (and then commandeer them if you wish - all the types of vehicles present in the game can be used by the player).

The graphics, while variable in quality, are usually realistic enough for you to relate to the situation. The draw depth is particularly impressive. I can't add say much more about the game that hasn't been mentioned in the writeups above. There are flaws in the game, but as with Hidden & Dangerous (the last game to make waves in this genre), hopefully the game will get enough support from players to allow for a sequel so that the developers can do justice to their vision.

Some things I need to mention about the greatest soldier simulator built so far:

Moddability: The game includes a nice and very easy to use map editor. It lets you create a "shoot all those damn Commies" scenario very easily - just pick an island, place some units around, edit some of the properties, and there you have it!

But with a click of "Advanced" button, you can unleash the whole hell of scriptability. You can assign scripts on just about anything that moves (or doesn't move). The scripting allows you to make actions happen based on triggers ("Upon entering this area, mission is complete") or other things ("If this enemy spots you, move him to vehicle as gunner") You can create external script snippets too (popular examples include nice formation-based parachute jumps from choppers...)

For instance, I wanted to create a "Race through Everon" scenario, completely peaceful, of course. Strip weapons from both players, give waypoints for the Russian guy, make victory condition "whoever enters this area first wins", and make failure condition "if the car is destroyed, the driver loses". Piece of cake! Then, just trigger-based driving instructions and music changes, some piloting weaponless choppers and decorative tanks...

Speech snippets can be created too. All sounds in game use Ogg Vorbis, and you can manually add lip synch to it too. This is particularly neat for making cutscenes. All briefings and notes are entered as normal HTML.

And all this stuff can be packaged neatly into scenario files that can be distributed easily...

Maybe it's just me, but I found OpF's editing to be much more enjoyable experience than anything in Quake side. I guess the scenario editing is very enjoyable because the game world and "levels" are already there and are very detailed, and all unit types are just amazing - all the scenario maker needs is an inspiration! I can't wait until they release the 3D model conversion tools =)

Music: As mentioned in other writeups, the immersiveness of the game is really great. One factor in it is, in my opinion, the great music. First person shooters rarely have this kind of music, great orchestral music as cold as the cold war itself... Some pieces (like the death music) are particularly ever-memorable.

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