Operation Flashpoint: Gold Upgrade

by Robert "Bilko" Shaw

Article Type: Review
Article Date: January 09, 2001

Product Info

Product Name: Operation Flashpoint
Category: Squad-Based FPS
Developer: Bohemia Interactive
Publisher: Codemasters
Release Date: Released 06/22/2001 - Europe. Sept. 2001 - N. America
Files & Links: Click Here

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The Best Gets Better

It has been six months since the initial release of Bohemia Interactive's Operation Flashpoint and thereís been patches and free add-ons galore. This time with the Gold Upgrade, however, you've got to pay. I paid £10. (Around $14 US) And itís a bargain! Here's what you get: Upgrades 1 - 3, with all the additional vehicles, weapons and missions; Red Hammer mission which is a new Soviet campaign of twenty new missions where you fight as an ex-Sptsnaz operative; A 64-page Prima strategy guide. Read on to hear the good word from the East.

Starting Red Hammer

Installation and Manual

Once installed, you no longer need to use the Gold Upgrade CD unless you reinstall Red Hammer. With the Gold Upgrade purchased from a local games store I received (in a DVD case) the Gold Upgrade CD. A strategy guide, and a update to the manual. If you have the original Operation Flashpoint youíll know the manual isnít exactly bulging with information. Well, the update (not the guide) is ten pages of information on Red Hammer installation, a key control update (which is only 3 key commands regarding multipayer chat), a brief description regarding the new vehicles, and a multiplayer update which is basically a little more on the types of multiplayer games like dedicated servers. So as you can tell, a bit of a let down with the manual, again.

The strategy guide, although a portrait-sized version of the manual, is a handy reference indeed. It contains a strategy briefing and guide to each mission of the original campaign but, surprisingly, thereís no info at all for any of tbe missions in Red Hammer. Youíll also find a guide to the multiplayer missions and a good quantity of tips for using the mission builder. Although somewhat limited, the strategy guide is very well put together and a welcome addition.

A view to die for

Support

Bohemia Interactive's support by way of patching and add-ons has been fantastic. There have been three major upgrades, which have not only included a lot of fixes for the game, but also included new weapons with vehicles and aircraft. You can download the Upgrades and add-ons here, but you may notice they are a bit hefty in size. When I was in the game shop buying the add-on a member of staff told me of his own lack of a decent internet connection and the Gold Upgrade CD was a godsend.

Trouble ahead?

Enlisting

When you enter the Red Hammer campaign, you must start the game using the original Operation Flashpoint disk, not the Gold Upgrade CD. I gave myself a new ID in the player name select before signing up for the Soviet campaign. To access the Red Hammer campaign just click campaign and on the next screen youíll see a small arrow beside the text 1985 Ė Cold War Crisis, this will put you onto a new page which contains the Red Hammer campaign. A click and you're away.

First mission

The Red Hammer Campaign

You get a whopping twenty missions in this campaign. Thatís enough to keep anyone going in a game, but when itís Operation Flashpoint then be prepared to lose sleep. If youíve not tried out the Soviet weapons much then youíre going to have fun learning. The Soviet hardware is definitely different than the US weaponry.

Be careful

Red Hammer starts in typical Operation Flashpoint style with a series of cut scenes that give you the story line. Iíve been keen on following these cut scenes as they were never predictable or mundane in the original campaign and Red Hammer is no different.

You are Dmitri Lukin who served with the elite Spetsnaz, but now a foot soldier sent to the Malden Islands to keep guard for Mother RussiaÖ

Scouting ahead

The campaign starts off with a very scenic early morning beach landing. From this point forward the action is relentless and having been away from Operation Flashpoint for a while I forgot how realistic and tricky it can be. Believe me, the AI will remind you very quickly that one shot can kill every chance it gets. Be on the lookout for civilians / militia too. If you and your squad go into a town you must be careful because the local militia are not all uniformed and yet you have to be careful not to kill civilians. Initially I was popping off the locals rather hastily and failing the mission! This is a very immersive feature as I began to feel rather uneasy when "civilians" were milling about as I was often expecting one to pull out a gun and start shooting at any moment.

The difficulty of the game even at Cadet mode has had many people complaining and looking for cheats. Iím so glad the developers stuck to their guns, so to speak, and never released any ďGod ModeĒ cheats. As with most simulations, the only real way to learn is to just jump in and get your feet wet. There really is no other way. I would say that the save option of only having one save per mission leaves one feeling rather vulnerable.

Busy briefing

A point worth mentioning is you need to have an understanding of squad command and control via keyboard commands and on-screen menus. Youíre leadership skills are required at a very early stage of the game and these skills are necessary to succeed. As I hadnít played Operation Flashpoint for some time my men were often left to their own devices while I rummaged through the rather hopeless manual.



Save Me!

Itís been noted by some in the community that the Red Hammer campaign would not let you play past missions but only the mission last played. I havenít encountered this problem (maybe this was fixed with the latest patch 1.40)? In fact, Iíve found no problems or glitches whatsoever.

A fight ends

Graphics and Sound

Graphics and sound are no different than in the original Operation Flashpoint. The Soviet soldier's voices are spoken in English so donít worry about understanding anyone or having to read subtitles. The sunrises and sunsets are still stunning to say the least, but they can make things tricky when it comes to hunting down the enemy (as youíll find out from the start). Some folks in the community donít like the radio chatter; Iím not so sure that itís that bad, maybe a tad overly synthesised. Otherwise itís fine with the game running smooth as ever.

He's not collecting soil

Community

Youíll get the usual mass support from the different Operation Flashpoint websites out there . (see resources below). There are literally loads of links to guide and assist you.

As always...

And the Winner Is?

Iíve heard some online buyers of the add-on being rather stingy with their praise for such a bargain. Iíve read such comments as ď£5 for 2 files?Ē. Well, I purchased the Gold Upgrade from my local gaming store and Iím happy with my lot. The Red Hammer missions are well worth the price of admission and just reinforce my personal choice of Operation Flashpoint as Best Sim of 2001 without a shadow of doubt (even though COMBATSIM doesn't do that specific award anymore) [Yeah, but it still got two awards nonetheless —Editor].

Return to Castle Wolfenstein is out, Medal of Honor will be out shortly and Hidden & Dangerous is scheduled for release in a couple of months. Each of these titles has its own special appeal to different groups of shooter fans, but if Codemasters and Bohemia Interactive continue to release add-ons like Red Hammer and the weapon and vehicle packs, Operation Flashpoint will continue to be, in this writer's opinion, the unquestioned gold standard in the first person shooter category.




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