A large number of war games and first person shooters are available for the PC, each having unique traits and storylines. Published by Codemasters and developed by Bohemia Interactive, Operation Flashpoint is based around the Cold War in 1985 between the United States and the Soviet Union. You are a talented ground soldier with an objective. That objective; capture key locations and annihilate the enemy.

Be forewarned, Operation Flashpoint is not a standard first person shooter. Unlike most war games, strategy and teamwork is key, and taking unnecessary risks will get you killed quickly. This new style of gameplay was probably the most difficult transition I had to make to adapt to this type of game. Operation Flashpoint has a whole new realm of gameplay, and offers a new experience to long time gamers.

You are a ground soldier in the Cold War. As a very talented individual, you have the ability to operating a wide selection of vehicles. Included in this list of combat vehicles are helicopters, anti-aircraft guns, tanks, jeeps, aircraft, cars, and many others. Something that makes Operation Flashpoint unique is the ability to climb into any vehicle in the vicinity of your current position and control it. Operation Flashpoint is one of the first games to allow this freedom, and is one of the few games to accurately portray these vehicles in a realistic way. The requirement for teamwork is essential in a game such as this, as you must work together with your teammates to defeat the enemy. You could use airborne vehicles to distract an enemy while your teammates take them out using ground vehicles, or transport a group of ground soldiers to a specified location depending on the mission. This ability to command multiple vehicles is something unique to Operation Flashpoint, and it is simply a lot of fun.

Graphics can make or break a game, especially in this genre. The visuals presented in Operation Flashpoint are very vivid and provide an excellent margin of detail. The detail on the faces of each character is outstanding, and is something that sets this game apart from many others. The characters look very realistic, and act and move as would be expected. Unfortunately, the graphics are not perfect. The trees and foliage look brilliant from a distance, but as you move closer, they become very pixilated and look of very poor quality. This is one aspect that really damages the overall ability of the graphics engine, especially since much of the gameplay is spent crawling around and using these trees for cover. Overall, the graphics are well done, but improvements could be made to enhance the overall visual quality.

Often overlooked in many titles is the aspect of sound. Good sound effects and background music is crucial in a title such as Operation Flashpoint, and Bohemia Interactive has put a great deal of effort in perfecting it. Suitable background music and theme song fit with the flow of the game, and add mood and perspective to the already impressive visuals. The voices of soldiers are unique for each character, and when developing a character for your profile, you have the option of customizing a voice for that character. You can use a slider to adjust the depth and pitch of a characters voice, something that is completely new to games of this genre. While playing, your character will engage in conversations with many military officers, and you will overhear conversations between other officers. A wide variety of sound effects are present, from the humming of vehicle engines to the firing of weapons and explosions as grenades detonate in the distance. Bohemia Interactive has included a very solid sound package, and this is just another area that makes Operation Flashpoint stand out among the crowd.

Operation Flashpoint is not perfect, and does have its fair share of problems. Luckily, I have yet to encounter any major bugs, but several minor issues are present in the 1.20 version. For example, the general controls are in need of improvement, as they can act very erratic at times. Although these controls are similar for every vehicle and character in the game, flying helicopters and controlling tanks can be very difficult. On occasion, you will randomly lose total control of the vehicle, which will often result in an accident. Other than the control issues, the game does not have any major bugs, and hopefully the few minor issues that are present will be fixed in a future patch.

You are suited up and ready to go. Your weapon is loaded, and you are prepared to enter battle. Operation Flashpoint includes many different modes of play, from single player missions to a full-fledged campaign, not to mention the highly addicting multiplayer mode and custom mission generator. The single player missions range in complexity and difficulty, and can be good in preparing you for the campaign. The campaign mode is a massive storyline game, and pits you against the best of the enemy. Players are limited to two saves per mission in the campaign mode, and these must be used wisely to successfully complete the missions. These missions range in difficulty, and will provide a gamer with many challenges and hours of game play.

If you are mainly an offline gamer, you will be interested in how well the artificial intelligence performs. For a game of this magnitude, the computer controlled opponents and teammates are fairly smart. Your teammates can adjust their position and objectives when you are in command, while your enemies can adjust for a variety of attacks as well. If you make yourself vulnerable by standing up in the open field, expect to be eliminated quickly. Operation Flashpoint has a slider to adjust the ability of the AI, from basic soldiers to highly trained officers bent on destroying you and your troops.

Operation Flashpoint also includes a highly addicting multiplayer mode. Using the GameSpy Arcade multiplayer matchmaking software included on the CD-ROM, up to sixteen players can face off against each other in a variety of matches. Almost all of the options available in single player mode are available in multiplayer, including the ability to operate and control vehicles. As with offline play, teamwork plays a big part in the online world. If you cannot co-operate with your teammates, then you will not stand a chance at success. Operation Flashpoint is a unique and addicting title, and the multiplayer mode is one of the most entertaining aspects of play.

Many recent games that revolve around storylines to keep the player involved rely on a variety of cut-scenes to explain the details. Operation Flashpoint is no different. The cut scenes presented in Operation Flashpoint are exceptional and very vivid in detail. Although they can be somewhat lengthy at times, Bohemia Interactive has done a very good job in producing and implementing these cut scenes into the general storyline.

Finally, Operation Flashpoint includes something not seen in many war games. Bohemia Interactive has included the ability to develop custom scenarios that can be used in offline or online combat missions. You can select from several landscapes and place units, prepare objectives, and specify meeting points. This mission editor is an added bonus to Operation Flashpoint, and is a very worthwhile aspect.

Overall, Operation Flashpoint is a unique war strategy title which a whole new perspective to the standard first person shooter game. With a very large aspect of game play and replayability, as well as a massive multiplayer world, Operation Flashpoint is a very advanced and entertaining game which can please even the most uninterested gamer for many hours.