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Operation Flashpoint Multiplayer

by Robert "Bilko" Shaw

Article Type: Review
Article Date: August 06, 2001


Once Upon A time

As a late arrival to PCís (March '99 when PCís started to become more affordable in the UK) I was very unaware of the online community, I knew it existed, but to me it was somewhere I didnít go because the Internet at the time was very costly. Once unmetered access arrived I couldnít wait to get into online gaming and jumped in with both feet and I havenít looked back, making many good friends along the way. To this day I still find it amazing when playing online that we have the ability to see the same images and everything is in synchronization.


Here & Now

The game has been on the European shelves for a couple of months and the first patch that deals with a whole list of issues is now out with more fine tuning and add-ons promised. So whatís the verdict for the game seen by many critics as one of the best first person shooters (FPS) around, as an online experience?

Iíve played a few games online and Iíve nearly always played among the same people. Many have become good friends and so we have an understanding of each others' ideas and aspirations, which I feel helps with games like Operation Flashpoint (OFP) because this game (apart from Deathmatch) needs Teamwork with a capitol T! Itís hard, it needs your concentration and you need to know your surroundings. Death will come to you many times over.


Where to Play

For convenience the chaps and I meet up at COMBATSIM.COM's very own OFP Chat Room and if for any reason there is a problem, or when weíve finished, itís back to the chat room—simple. Other places to play are Kali and Gamespy, with both costing a one off fee of $20.

I went to Gamespy before it started charging and it was not for me. Iíve been a member of Kali a couple of years and itís been my gateway to online gaming for many games. Once you work it out, itís not too hard to configure your games. The members Iíve mingled with are a decent bunch and Iíve yet to have any bother. Gamespy, on the other hand, was hell with the behavior of some players I found to be quite disgusting. Things may be different now that they charge a one-time fee.

My team comes through: A welcome message - 'The flag is back'

So Many Ways To Be Killed

Game types are varied. They range from good old Deathmatch, where everyone just kills each other, to a co-operative sniper mission where stealth is the key. This is what does it for me, a game where one has to think about what one does. One loose step or one shot fired prematurely and itís off to that great gaming world in the sky.

The multiplayer game requires thought and the ability to plan out a maneuver. This certainly is the case if youíre in a Co-op mission with your mates, who will not appreciate you if youíve just gave away everyoneís position by running into town in a Rambo-esque style. This game has me constantly on edge, and when your long wait in a bush is rewarded with a kill the feeling is terrific. You are always wondering where the enemy may be, this gets my heart rate up and when you are running in the game the heavy breathing can almost be too much to bear!

Codemasters are offering more multiplayer missions and user-made missions are arriving all the time; this extends the playablility of the game considerably. What's more, ladder matches are also being made available, and many hundreds of online squads have formed. The online potential is indeed a huge one, especially when the number of players allowed in the game is unlimited.


OFP MP: The Basics

Hereís a run through of setting up, launching and playing OFP online through direct IP.

First, everyone playing should find a meeting place. A chat room works well (COMBATSIM.COM's OFP Chat Room).

Arriving back with the enemy's flag

Somebody should start-up an Internet-based voice communication application for everyone to join (Roger Wilco works a treat and this is what most people use online—it's also FREE!). This should be done as early as possible so the game host, the hostís IP, the game type and any other information can be passed around to save time later on.

Note: Yes, OFP has its own, built-in voice comms, but weíve had difficulty communicating with more than three people. Until we are able to run it smoothly for everyone, an independent voice comm such as Roger Wilco is advisable. Also note that if you are playing against each other in team vs. team, two separate Roger Wilco channels may be advisable, but are not really necessary since you can send both voice and text messages in a variety of ways. On the "Side" or team-only channel, only your squad mates will be able to read your text messages and on one of the global channels, everyone in the game sees you text messages. Very handy.

Hosting Set-up

Once the host has issued the game IP to everyone, give him or her a minute or so to set up the game. When joining the game, just click Multiplayer and then click Remote on the top right of the screen. Then type in the host's IP address. This will get you into the MP mission set up.

Depending on the type of game selected, you will need to assign yourself to a side, then in the next screen you will need to assign yourself to a position e.g., machine gunner, sniper, etc. There is a feature in the multiplayer set-up that allows the host to designate and lock a player to a particular side and/or position. Once locked only the host can move the player anywhere else. Once in the game set-up screen players like to start as soon as possible without messing about, so if you are the host try not to hang about unnecessarily. A speedy set up and launch is always the best way to go (be careful not to leave anybody behind though!).

Here players choose their sides

The next screen to appear will be the last before actually playing. This is the map and the mission briefing. By double-clicking a spot on the map, a cross-hairs icon will show up and you can write a text message that all will see---so if you are playing team vs. team don't put your secret strategy on the mission briefing map. In co-op play, however, paying attention to details written by other players on the map at this point does help because after this youíre at the mercy of OFP's incredibly hard AI!

Always plan ahead in the briefing screen

Once in game it helps to try and establish your position as soon as possible because if youíre not careful you can get cut down very quickly. Be very careful not to take out fellow squad members if youíre playing in a co-op mission; itís easy to do and itís highly likely that you will do it. Donít feel bad, and if youíve got understanding squad mates it will help!

Around the bases and respawn areas you will find ammo crates where you can rearm with an array of weapons. Weapons can also be stolen off dead bodies. If youíre injured, make your way to a medical tent you can get patched up, unless you are unable to walk, then you just have to hope a medic is on call!

Getting Ammo & First Aid

When you die, there are several possible things that could happen. If in a Catpture the Flag or Deathmatch mission you will respawn as normal—otherwise, you could respawn as a seagull. This is true! If you do respawn as a seagull you will have the ability to fly around the countryside. There are other respawn options, but these have to be edited in the game's mission script. Here are all the possible respawn types:
  • NONE - no respawn
  • BIRD - as seagull (default)
  • INSTANT - at place you last died
  • BASE - at your base (set with markers "Respawn_West", "Respawn_East")
  • GROUP - into a remaining soldier of your group (assigned group/platoon)
  • SIDE - into a remaining soldier of your side (east, west)


When everyone is dead and wants to try again (itís more likely this, with everyone dead, than when the mission is complete, which is rare!) or if anyone wants an alteration in the set up, the host can go back and make the changes with others doing nothing, in fact, once everyone has joined the host's IP they no longer need to do anything except click I'm Ready on the mission briefing screen.


The Online Gamer

Playing European Air War online has spoiled me; I didnít realize this until I started playing OFP online. When I tried out Gamespy it was horrible. The language and the attitude of some of the players was very off-putting to say the least. Thankfully, playing with the folks at COMBATSIM has been refreshingly civilized. I fear, however, that the problem of a few people with bad attitudes may re-appear when the dedicated OFP game server arrives with the USA release in September. In fact, it will appear and the need to have the server moderated correctly must surely be the only way. The option of booting players in the game is a good option for the host and will help get rid of unwanted players!

Another point secured

Help!

Iíve scoured the Internet for a feel of how other gamers view the game and while I understand peopleís frustration when the game, for example, crashes to desktop, I despair when they trumpet their annoyance with quotes like ďThis is the buggiest game ever,Ē or ďThe worst Multiplayer Code written,Ē and the classic ďI want a refund!Ē Yes, the game has a few minor bugs and there is some debate about the code, but there are far too many good things going on with this gem to make it unworthy. There is plenty of help out there, with support via patches already being delivered, and a dedicated server due in conjunction with the USA release in September which should make things a lot easier for all looking for an MP challenge. With the Internet being far easier and cheaper to access all the time, there has never been a better time to let rip with OFP's online multiplayer.

One less sniper to worry about. 'Quick! Snap that pic and let's get outta here!'

And The Winner IsÖ

Operation Flashpoint's multiplayer is nothing short of a ripping good game. I love it, but donít tell the wife. The emotion one can feel is amazing. I can only explain it best when playing Capture the Flag. The point when youíve just taken the enemy's flag and you are running for your life back to your own base. You just donít want to look behind in case you see something or someone you donít want to see! Itís breathtaking—literally! How long it holds the top spot will be a matter of how good the multiplayer in Hidden & Dangerous 2 and Medal of Honor turns out to be. I recommend this game as a tip-top online experience you really ought to try.





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