Operation Flashpoint Review


The final chapter on the Cold War was written in the mid-1980's.  Reagan was openly referring to the Soviet Union as an 'evil empire' and beefing up America's armed forces.  On the other side of the fence, Gorbachev was trying to open up his country in an effort to stem its total collapse.  Despite the tensions of that time, the US and USSR never went toe-to-toe and the world emerged from the Cold War unscathed.  Operation Flashpoint takes place along an alternate timeline where the USSR struck out when it felt its back against the wall, and places you at ground zero in the resulting war.

Operation Flashpoint casts you in the role of a US Army infantryman stationed on the fictional Malden island chain.  Life on this remote posting is slow and you spend much of your time in training exercise.  However, an armed force soon lands on the island and attempts to take control of some key towns.  It doesn't take you too long to find out that the troops are Soviets and that you stand on the threshold of World War III.

This is the situation at the opening of the game's campaign.  The training exercises before the invasion serve as a tutorial to familiarize the player with the game's controls.  Once the shooting starts, you'll be faced with a variety of missions which can include capturing objectives, patrols, seek and destroy sorties, and a variety of other mission types.  Not all of these will be fought on foot, though.  Operation Flashpoint allows you to operate a large variety of vehicles from mundane jeeps to powerful M-1s.  You'll even have the opportunity to pilot Cobra and Apache attack helicopters and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs.  

Missions begin with a briefing a list of objectives, although these objectives often change in the heat of battle.  When in the mission, a directional arrow helps to you to find the direction of your next location-based objective, which is a big help because of the game's expansive environment.  You'll also receive radio messages to help direct you and warn of approaching enemies.  Some missions can be fairly long and consist of several linked objectives.  To prevent an untimely death from forcing the player to replay the entire mission, Operation Flashpoint periodically saves 'retry points'.  If you should die and need to retry the mission, you begin from the last retry point passed.

Operation Flashpoint is an action game and shares some of the basic controls with games of this genre.  Movement and the player's viewpoint are managed by a combination of the mouse and a few keyboard keys which should be a familiar combination to action gamers.  Operation Flashpoint does add a few of its own unique controls, though.  A context-sensitive command menu is accessed by using the mouse wheel (or Enter on the keyboard).  The menu is used to mount vehicles,  pick-up a new weapon, or whatever else is appropriate to the situation.  Also, although you begin the game as a lowly grunt, you will have the opportunity to lead a squad at times.  To accomplish this, Operation Flashpoint allows you to issue orders to the other troops in your squad through a few simple keystrokes.  There is also a command view which let's you see the action from a distance and issue orders to your units RTS-style through mouse-clicks.