The year was 1985, the Cold War, the world divided. Two different ways of life, one conflict. Operation Flashpoint depicts this conflict from both perspectives in one of the best action titles available to this date.

Published by Codemasters and developed by Bohemia Interactive Studio, Operation Flashpoint: Gold Edition is the newest upgrade for the hugely successful title, Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis. Released last fall, this title won numerous awards, one of which was our very own Editor's Choice award. Instead of explaining the entire game again, take a quick peek at our review of Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis, as this review of the Gold Edition will primarily focus on the new additions to the game.

Operation Flashpoint: Gold Edition is not an entirely new game, but rather is an updated version of the original with a variety of new tools and additions. Often, this style up upgrading products are highly scrutinized, as those whom purchased the original often have to shell out another forty bucks to get the Gold Edition of the product, but Codemasters has avoided this approach. Owners of the original can download the upgrade pack including the new campaigns and additions from the Codemasters website for around ten dollars, a good price for a campaign that will take many hours to complete.

Now, you are probably asking, "what's new in the Gold Edition of Operation Flashpoint." Included within the box is the same CD and manual as the original, with new components consisting of a complete Prima strategy guide and gold upgrade CD-ROM. Included on the CD-ROM is the new "Red Hammer" campaign, which will be explained in more detail later in this review. The strategy guide is an extremely useful tool, one of the best additions that could have been included. For players just starting out, the strategy guide gives a good overview of the game, and some basic tactical training. For experienced players, the strategy guide will offer you new tactical techniques and strategies that can help you out-stealth and outwit an opponent, and succeed in your mission. When the Gold Upgrade is downloaded from the Codemasters website, the Prima strategy guide is included in Adobe Acrobat format.

As mentioned earlier, the largest addition to the game is the new "Red Hammer: The Soviet Campaign." This new campaign includes twenty missions, and places you on the other side of the battlefield. Unlike the original campaign, players engage opponents from the Soviet side of the action, and offers a completely different perspective of the war. This addition is a very lengthy and difficult campaign, and will take many hours to complete. If you enjoyed the first campaign, this new Red Hammer campaign will offer plenty of enjoyment and add much to the original title.

Along with the new campaign, new voices with a deep Russian accent have been included, that of which add realism to the title. The new voiceovers are exceptionally well done, and similar to the original. Bohemia Interactive has done an overall superb job on the sound effects. In one mission in the Red Hammer campaign, players hear shells exploding all around while completing the mission. These explosions add a highly realistic atmosphere to the title, a huge success by the developers.

The gold edition of Operation Flashpoint comes fully patched to the most recent version (V1.3), and will save you from downloading the large patches that have been released since the title's initial shipping to stores. Upon first release of the Gold Edition, the US Master Disc contained an error that prevented the game from loading properly, but this issue was quickly addressed by Codemasters and dealt with in a timely manner.

Is Operation Flashpoint: Gold Edition a viable upgrade for owners of the first? If you are mainly a multiplayer gamer, than the new features will not be of much appeal, but for anyone who has completed or intends on completing the campaign included within the first, the upgrade is worth the money. If you are a fan of action titles, and still haven't purchased Operation Flashpoint, the Gold Edition is the only way to go.