Genre: Tactical First-person Shooter
Developer: Bohemia I. Studio
Release Date: November 8, 2005
With its largely free-form gameplay and massive environments, 2002's Operation Flashpoint was a gem of a title for the PC that really raised the bar for a military-themed FPS on any platform. The game was fairly popular among some of the more hardcore simulation crowd, garnering both awards and two add-ons to play through the eyes of a Soviet soldier and a Resistance fighter in addition to the stock US soldier. Talk of porting the title to the Xbox started a long time ago, and now that the game's debut on the Xbox is nigh, it has to be said that while the game is old, and the technology older yet, it's still looking to be largely worthy of carrying the name.
In Operation Flashpoint: Elite you play as a US soldier stationed in the fictional Malkan island chain, which is suddenly invaded by a Soviet force. The situation quickly escalates into a nearly full-scale conflict with the thought of all-out nuclear war not too far from the soldiers' minds. In the beginning, you are a mere soldier and often engage in infantry combat, but as the game progresses you will seamlessly play as a special forces unit, a tank commander, a helicopter pilot, and a jet fighter pilot. While you rarely switch between them in a regular mission, in a custom mission or in multiplayer mode, you can literally fly a helicopter across one of the 100 square kilometer islands to a distant town, land, get into a tank, trek to a forest, and then engage in infantry combat, all without load times or even a hiccup.
After you complete the single player campaign, the Resistance add-on is unlocked, in which you play as a man who thought he had found peace in his life until war found him again on the sleepy Malkan islands. The unique features of the Resistance add-on is that ammo and weapons are carried over between missions, and you can choose you and your squad's loadout before the mission, giving the title that much more of a tactical edge. In most games, finding a sniper rifle means you can add it to your arsenal in a carefree fashion; in Resistance, it's almost a thing to be cherished, as they don't exactly fall from trees. Additionally, dead soldiers are just that, and one less man that will be fighting alongside you in the coming missions.
The title looks like it will largely retain the same look and style as the PC version, right down to the menu screens and briefings. Much of the voice work has been redone, and given that the original title had some downright robotic voiceovers, one can chalk that up on the "Good thing" board. The graphics, on the one hand, look mostly the same in terms of texturing and modeling on the landscape. On the other, the character, weapon, and vehicle models have been redone, as has the lighting engine, which really makes the game look that much better, despite its age. Focus effects are used here in there, such as making things slightly blurry off to the sides of your vision when aiming down the sights and here and there in cinematics. Explosions, smoke, and flame are markedly better than their counterparts in the PC version, and it must be said that while the game still looks fairly low quality in comparison to similar titles on the Xbox, it also looks and sounds much better than it did on the PC.
One thing to keep in mind with Operation Flashpoint: Elite is that it is a very realistic game. You can literally walk for full minutes across an open field before fighting a single enemy element, only to get shot and die because you didn't see them first. What's more, you might just take a shot to the legs and have to crawl, as you can no longer stand up. There's not much room for error, and urban combat can be pretty intense, where enemies can be hiding in any number of places and death comes swiftly for the unaware. Fans of arcade-style FPS action will likely dislike Operation Flashpoint: Elite, while the fans of a more simulation-based title will love the gritty (and admittedly sometimes aggravating) realism that the title delivers.
Operation Flashpoint: Elite is shaping up to be a fairly solid first-person shooter, all things being equal. The graphics have a distinctly aged look, although the enhancements shrug off some of that feel, but the content of the game is almost identical to the PC version, which is really no small feat. Fans of realistic shooters will have a ball or two with Operation Flashpoint: Elite's campaign mode, and possibly two more as they complete the Resistance add-on. Even better yet, the in-game mission editor allows budding map makers to create their own missions, expanding the replayability even further. Look for more information on Operation Flashpoint: Elite as it nears ship date.
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