SummaryOptions, options, options....
The GoodOperation Flashpoint is a very realistic soldier simulator. You can get into any vehicle, aircraft or boat as a pilot, gunner or commander. The maps are huge and everything in this game is free form. You can complete a mission almost any way you see fit. Combat is intense, you can hear bullets zipping by and knowing that one hit will kill you really makes you want to keep your head down. The weaponry and vehicles are decent in number and the story is intriguing. But where Operation Flashpoint really shines is the add on capability. From numerous websites, you can find weapons, vehicles, soldiers, objects, animations you name it, all fan made, all available for download. With the mission creator you can create virtually any combat scenario you can think of. You want to send in some covert ops to an enemy base in the middle of the night to blow up their weapons stockpile? You can. You want to have a 100 vs. 100 battle? You can. You want to be a Starship Trooper with a nuke launcher and take out hordes of bugs with a push of a button? You can. You want to be a Colonial Marine fighting Predators with your Pulse Rifle? Believe it or not, you can. The replay value in this game is virtually unlimited. There are graphic updates, custom animations, full game mods, full game conversions, mini-mods... the possibilities are endless! Sound complicated? It's really not. You can be playing within seconds if you really wanted to, either by single missions that come with the game or missions you downloaded for the web. You can create scenarios as complicated or as simple as you want. The AI is good enough to where you won't be blowing away baddies left and right. They won't flank you and they rarely flush you out, but they certainly don't just stand there and fire. The graphics for the time are slightly above average, however there are upgrades that can really make blowing up a tank or shooting down a helicopter one of the prettiest things you've done.
The BadThe voice acting and squad commands sound horrible. You really need to learn to phase them out, otherwise they'll drive you to and past the brink. The physics engine is also pretty bad. Walking inside a building you can easily get stuck, go through walls or suddenly end up outside, exposing yourself to enemy fire. Additionally, buildings don't blow up or collapse, they simply... I guess for lack of a better word "disfigure". The polygons stretch and skew making a twisted cacophony of concrete and metal. Certain vehicles do this as well, but at they usually are at least scorched and/or on fire. There is no animation for dying from an explosion, so you'll simply be "lying down" while flying through the air. Vehicles handle kind of strangely but you get used to it. What's harder, though, is piloting airplanes. Helicopters aren't so bad but airplanes can really be a pain. You have to slow down sometimes ridiculous amounts to make a turn and if you start going to fast your maneuverability will suffer so bad crashing becomes a fast reality. Turning in and of itself is a hard task to accomplish. Enemies can be hard to spot, you really have to be paying attention. Now whether this is realistic or just done wrong by the developers is up for debate, never having the unfortunate duty of being in combat, I cannot say. Chances are they'll spot you first, and chances are their fire will be much more accurate than yours. Aiming is not easy in this game, you have a floating crosshair and firing while moving is out of the question (as infantry anyways). Some might like this, some might not but that’s the main place where Operation Flashpoint will keep kicking you in the teeth, reminding you this a realistic soldier sim, not some wussy, tree hugging, hemp smoking arcade FPS. The campaign gets difficult at points, so difficult you just want to smash your monitor with your keyboard. There are times you'll be jogging along, minding your own business when one bullet nails you in the side of the head, no warning. Harsh, but there's that damned realism again. You can only save once during a mission, so when you die (which can be often) you'll have to go back to that point or to the last "checkpoint". So theoretically speaking, you could spend days playing just to get your man across a field. On the flip side, though, when you do complete the campaign you feel a real sense of accomplishment.
The Bottom LineOperation Flashpoint has more freedom than any game I've played up to that point and ever since. It can double as a WWII simulator, a WWI simulator, a zombie slaying game, a science fiction combat sim... your mind is the limit. Being a soldier sim rather than a FPS won't appeal to everyone however. There are a lot of controls to know and subsequently memorize and combat is a very different animal all together. That being said, if you have patience, Operation Flashpoint can be as intense, if not more intense, than any FPS out there. Couple that with replay value that keeps you playing six years later and more than ever, you have a legend in its own time. Playing Operation Flashpoint is definitely an experience you won't forget for a long, long time.