Previews

Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising

War: it's good for us

The island that you fight on and across in Operation Flashpoint 2 exists. It's a real place, called Sakhalin - modelled, mapped and recreated to the developers' best ability.

The same hyper-realistic approach worked wonders for the original Operation Flashpoint: the islands of Everon, Kolgugev and Malden were based on Krk (Croatian), Tenerife (Mediterranean) and Lefkas (Greek) respectively. Those rolling landscapes gave it an unusual authenticity.

It's that spirit that enlivens Flashpoint 2: everything is being modelled in hyper-detail, an almost pixel-perfect rehearsal for a war that could happen.

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Sakhalin's is an energy economy: it's estimated that under the island lie 14 billion barrels of oil. It's a petroleum paradise both the US and China fancy a piece of.

As a US marine on the front line, don't expect to be diving headfirst into combat, like Rambo on the end of a mouse cable. Expect almost muted violence: the kind of stark, almost sad destruction that you see on the news and YouTube.

Advancing in Flashpoint demands a certain tactical forethought. You'll have to take into account armour deployments, evacuation routes, ambushes and air-support before you even squeeze a trigger. Once the fight is joined a single bullet will kill you: and the muzzle flashes from your weapon will identify you to lingering snipers.

But you're not alone: AI comrades will point out targets, and keep talking about their current situation ("Oh no! Three. Is DOWN!") and automatically fire at the most obvious targets. When the battle is joined, it will feel as close to real war as games can get.

Realistic shooters like Operation Flashpoint have had a hard few years. Titles such as Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six have crossed over to the consoles, losing their hard and real edges in the process.

Flashpoint 2 is taking the exact opposite approach - a deliberately tough game that highlights the fragility of men in the face of a terrifying war machine. We salute that.

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