Instead of limiting you to play as an infantryman, Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis offers you the option to pilot a large variety of ground and air vehicles as well. These elements, combined with a realistic depiction of war, result in one of the most enjoyable tactical shooters released to date (circa 2002).
The introduction of several new elements makes the already excellent gameplay even better. You begin as a basic rifleman, following your CO's orders. The constant radio chatter between him and the other soldiers in your platoon helps provide a much more realistic feeling than other tactical shooters, and you contribute by requesting status, location updates, medics, and more. As you progress through missions, you acquire weapons and ammo that give you additional options for completing mission objectives, and eventually you are able to employ even more strategy by commanding soldiers using a menu-based dialogue system.
The sense of realism is enhanced by the option to commandeer vehicles you come across on the battlefield, and adds depth to gameplay. The same basic control scheme is used for infantry and all vehicles, though, which may disappoint hardcore simulation fans. Conversely, the unified control scheme keeps the learning curve low, makes transitions from infantry to vehicular gameplay seamless, and results in a smooth tempo.
Execution problems include enemy riflemen who can drop you from 250 meters if you're not behind cover, while hitting them at the same range is extremely difficult. Damage is handled poorly and it's not uncommon to see enemy soldiers taking two or three headshots before dying or multiple close range bursts with apparently no ill effects. Finally, some vehicles have poor path-finding abilities, especially those moving in groups, where more often than not a platoon of tanks appear to be driven by drunks playing bumper cars.
Minor glitches to otherwise superb gameplay aside, graphics and sound are weak, or average at best. While vehicle models and animated faces are fairly well done, textures are low quality and bushes are ugly masses of pixels. Trees look like LEGO constructions and feature little variety, soldier models are blocky and poorly animated, and your soldier has only four fingers per hand while everyone else gets five.
The implementation of 3D sound is poorly done, with the volume of nearby sound sources fluctuating wildly from nearly inaudible to loud, depending on your facing; thus, it's entirely possible for a 70-ton tank to sneak up on you from behind. Poor voice acting in clips is often so badly done as to give an unintended sense of comedy in places.
Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis delivers a reasonably convincing and thoroughly enjoyable depiction of modern combined arms warfare through several points of view. Despite the flaws, none of which are game killers, it's an experience that no action war gamer should miss.
Graphics: Vehicle models and character faces are well done, but the rest of the graphics are disappointing.
Sound: Poor voice acting and questionable 3D sound counterbalance the good variety of battlefield sound effects.
Enjoyment: Despite some flaws, the game is an action-oriented war gamer's dream in terms of realism and gameplay options.
Replay Value: Each mission can be replayed multiple times with different approaches, and the game comes with an easy to use and very versatile mission editor.
People who downloaded Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis have also downloaded:
Operation Flashpoint: GotY Edition, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, No One Lives Forever, No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way, Onimusha 3: Demon Siege, Men of Valor, Navy SEALs: Weapons of Mass Destruction, Operation: Matriarchy
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