Operation Flashpoint: FAQ: General

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What is Operation Flashpoint?

Operation Flashpoint, simply put, is a simulation of war combat (as it was in 1985) played in realtime in a "real-world" environment and viewed from the firstperson perspective and is the finest game I have every played, period. The computer age has finally arrived!

Operation Flashpoint is one of those game experiences which pulls you in completely and demands your complete attention for months. It really should not be a game which falls into the "love it or loathe it category". This type of description can be applied to games like Black and White for example (a so called, revolutionary game) which kept me busy for about, ooh let me see, about 3 hours at which point I saw through the graphical trickery to see it for the pile of tedious old crap it is). If you need to be impressed by graphics and perhaps need to impress with graphics, then Operation Flashpoint is not the game for you. Do not buy this game if you don't like the idea of fighting, you don't like war films and you find anything more realistic than monkey Island too much to deal with. Everyone else should experience this game. The game play is stunning and it draws you in for many reasons. The difficulty is to know how to describe the experience of playing Operation Flashpoint. Its so damn satisfying that it becomes hard to describe. I liken the atmosphere when in the midst of a game battle is similar to that experienced when watching the battle scenes in a good recent war film like Saving Private Ryan or even more so, The Thin Red Line (e.g., where they are trying to take the hill...)

I think this is why most reviewers will describe a typical mission to try and evoke the true nature of the game. The experience is excellent and absorbing, exhilarating and exciting. I will try and describe the game as a whole and then describe a typical mission.

The game package offers three main aspects:

1. A war conflict scenario with a rogue Russian general causing trouble on 4 imaginary (?) islands. The crisis unfolds on the four islands and this affords an enormous playing environment of around 100 sq. km. This forms the core of the game.

You might be involved in head on infantry assaults, air combat mission (helicopter and plane), tank, jeep boat or truck driving. You may be the commander or the commanded, and your mission may involve attacking, depending, rescuing, fleeing, keeping watch or planting bombs.

In any of the missions you are entirely free to do what you want, but need to respect your superiors' orders.

2. A set of stand alone missions which allow you a quick blast and for you to hone skills. You can also download and play missions from dedicated sites which have been created by players of the game.

3. A mission editor/creator which offers a fully comprehensive and relatively intuitive way of making your own scenarios and missions with your imagination being your only constraint.

A typical mission may start off with you being briefed in real time by your CO who then tells you to board a jeep and takes you to a certain point in order to meet with the rest of the squad. The mission is to try and retake a local village with other units. Whilst you are driving he continues talking and you are able to look round 360 degrees to take in the speeding scenery flying by. You are amazed at the realistic rolling countryside and your sense of realistic speed. Anyhow back to the mission. You meet up with your comrades in arms and then board a truck together to take you to the start point of the mission. The way in which continuity is preserved with no cut scenes or changes of camera angles is very impressive. You really do get a feeling of being in a virtual world when playing the game. Your truck trundles off the road bumping up and down as it travels. Your fellow mates try and lighten the atmosphere with a bit of banter but the tension is rising. You get out of the truck with your fellow soldiers, your CO barks orders to move to a position undisclosed (i.e., just follow the groups, stay in formation). You can hear a light breeze and the tweeting of a bird nearby breaks through the calm.

Together you run through a thicket of bushes down the side of a valley and up again the other side. Then you go over the top of a hill and see your destination ahead about half a mile away. There is a flurry of activity, in the distance you can make out tank movement and the flash of the firing of weapon. A second or two later you hear the report of gunfire. Your group continues on towards the fighting. The CO tells you to move towards the trees for cover. Suddenly you become aware that gunfire is being directed towards your squad. The team hits the deck. You follow suit and make a desperate crawl for some bushes nearby. Your CO gives the command to engage. The group continues forward towards the village, now only about 350m away. The machine gunner gets up sprints forward firing a volley of shots. He is cut down by enemy fire and your CO screams ' Oh no damn! 3 is down'.

You see some trees to the left and decide to make a dash for them. You figure that you can approach the village from the relative safety of the trees. And also the height of the wood should give an added advantage. You get up and bullets whine past you. Sprinting hard, your breath is harsh and the trees approach agonizingly slowly. All the time you can hear shooting from the rear and right. Your CO yells over the radio 'oh no 4 is down' quickly followed by 'damn 6 is down'. Your squad is in big trouble and you have not helped one bit yet!

Finally you get to the trees. Suddenly you are aware that you being shot at from ahead! You hit the deck and return fire. Two enemy soldiers are darting between the trees and disappear. You know they are there and continued radio messages inform you that your squad is rapidly being depleted about 300m to your right in the village. You crawl forward just out of the bushes you are in and see one of the enemy in front of you crawling between two bushes about 60m ahead. You line up your aim and go for a headshot. Yes! The soldier goes down. You have little time to revel in your victory. Your gunshot has given away your position and the other soldier is now firing at you! You sprint/crawl out of the bushes and towards another clump a few meters to your left. A bullet whizzes past. Damn that was too close! And you don't know where the shooting is coming from. You decide to get up and risk a sprint for better cover. Bad decision, a bullet rips into you as you rise from your prone position and you see red. You fall to the floor, you can do nothing, you are dead.

Ok you get the picture. The fantastic thing about this game is that if you replay this mission, you can approach it from a completely different angle. You could flank to the right of the village and join another allied unit to take the village from the right hand side and meet back with your group after picking off enemy soldiers from the rear. You could rob a dead LAW soldier's bazooka and go in search of enemy tanks which will be coming into the village. Or you could take the jeep right at the start and go off exploring the island forgetting the mission in hand, completely. Of course you'd risk a court martial, but that's your choice.

Another mission saw me trying to flee an island and following a series of waypoints with others with a combination of vehicle and pedestrian travel, we traveled on a road for about a mile then branched off, got out of a truck, met enemy resistance on foot, discovered our transport had been destroyed, then the rest of my team got killed so I had to use all my stealth capability to wind my way through thickets and woodland to the destination point which was about a mile away. I had to retry the mission several times to find the optimum and most trouble free route. This is obviously a luxury afforded to the real life military.

It's this open ended game play which makes the game so absorbing. This fact, coupled with the sheer realism of the environment and AI, provides the most satisfying gaming experience ever. I could harp on about AI details, sounds, graphics, fluidity of motion, etc., individually, but it is the way the factors all gel together holistically to provide the experience that is Operation Flashpoint.

Certain points do jump out at you, however, which really are worth mentioning:


The topography and geography of the islands affords the player strategy options hitherto undreamed of in a game of this type. With most other games there are few or no topographical features; we are usually faced with a flat as a pancake world. In Operation Flashpoint the geography and flow of hills, valley, trees, woods, etc, gives a very realistic and useful environ to play in. A mission may cover a number of kilometers of terrain and provide a fantastic impression of traveling and covering ground in realtime; always being aware of the urgency and danger surrounding you in hostile territory. The addition factor this imbues is to actually provide you, the player, with vivid memories of the mission after you have played it. I have never, ever had such memories with other games.

The topography also affords the player with tactical option of using hillocks and bosses as cover to snipe from. You can flee from enemies and over the brow of a hill, hit the deck, do a u-turn and then lie in wait for them. Brilliant.

I have usually shied away from the war game genre, on grounds of detachment and general boredom factors. This is completely different. This presents you with the stark choice; play badly and die; play well and you might just make it. And this makes for a series of very exciting challenges.

The game differs from traditional FPS games also in that you are killed with one or two shots. With most FPS games you can be charging at enemies whilst waggling a bowie knife and they will be blasting you with a rocket launcher and you will still be able to kill them. Also, you can dodge the projectiles with a lot of the other games, not so with Operation Flashpoint. More often than not you will be dead before you know where the bullets are coming from. This encourages you to react as if you were there.

The missions only allow one save per attempt. This means that you cannot kill/save/kill/save etc. The option of one save is just right to avoid frustration but maintain excitement.

Mission editor/creator:

This is truly marvelous and allows for you to develop as good missions as in the game campaign section itself! This is remarkable and I found myself dabbling with the editor more to begin with than actually playing the missions.

The mission editor starts with you choosing an island map (one of four). Three offer greenery and village locations and the fourth is a desert island.

You are then presented with a zoomable map view of your chosen island with everything shown, down to the last tree and hut. Onto this map you can place and edit individual men cars, tanks, other vehicles, buildings, barriers, objects etc. including boxes telephones. The NPCs can be east or west, civilian or resistance. The characters can be programmed to follow a myriad different paths and the combinations of options allow for really great things to be achieved. Sounds are also able to be programmed as well as all sorts of camera trick.

The beauty of the editor is that you can toy with different, simple, scenarios and build them up, tweaking as you go until you have a full blown battle going on. You can start out with you against a few squaddies, move them around, building up the logic with movements, waypoint, vehicles, and triggered events. From here you can add team-mates, more vehicles; tanks, helicopters, planes, trucks full of troops, these scenarios you can then play out at your leisure. It's like an extremely advanced version of war gaming with plastic soldiers.

The editor is also great because it does not take more than 30 seconds to create your first scenario, involving yourself against, say a squad of 8 enemy soldiers. There are a fantastic range of options and features with the editor which are not featured with the instructions of the game, and this is often cited as a criticism. I figure that if the developers were kind enough to throw in the editor as a bonus, why grumble? There's fantastic support online any how.

What is Operation Flashpoint's terrain and environment like?

Missions in Operation Flashpoint's original version take place in one of three vast islands (14x14 kilometers each). The islands contain towns, roads, signs, airports, forests, shrubs, rocks, mountains, beaches, open plains and more. Missions can take place in a variety of weather conditions and at any time of the day or night. There are no official Operation Flashpoint winter, snow, desert or jungle maps. However, everyone's having a blast with unofficial player-made winter, desert and jungle island addons.

There is another fourth island, the training island, which is bare of grass and foliage. This is generally not used in official Operation Flashpoint missions. However, some user designed missions do make use of the training island and there exist some customized player-made versions of the training island.

Operation Flashpoint: Resistance introduces a fifth island, with new and more detailed textures and a larger land mass than any of the original Operation Flashpoint islands.

Speaking of day and night, as the time changes while playing a mission, so do the positions of the sun, moon and stars. It's all quite accurate, actually, with the islands being based at a latitude of 40 degrees north and standard time in effect. You can watch sunrise or sunset and the tide going in and out accurately. You can even navigate by the constellations at night.

What age group is Operation Flashpoint rated for?

In the US, the ESRB has rated Operation Flashpoint "M" for mature audiences (17+), describing it as containing blood and violence. In Europe, the ELSPA rated Operation Flashpoint at 15+. Does that mean that European teenagers are more mature than their American counterparts? Sorry I asked!

Besides violence (guns are shot, bombs go off, people die) and bloodshed (red puffs appear when someone is shot, blood stains and possible disfiguration are shown on dead bodies and puddles of blood were introduced in Operation Flashpoint: Resistance), there is a very trivial amount of mild profanity.

Where can I buy Operation Flashpoint?

Operation Flashpoint was first officially released internationally, excluding North America, on June 22 2001. The official North American version was released on August 28th, 2001. Operation Flashpoint Gold and the Operation Flashpoint Gold Upgrade, which both include the new Red Hammer campaign, was released on November 29th, 2001. Operation Flashpoint Resistance is scheduled for release on June 28, 2002.

Are there any Operation Flashpoint discussion forums?

Here are some of the more popular ones for starters:

BIS Operation Flashpoint Forum (dead link)

The Operation Flashpoint Editing Center Forum

SIMHQ's Operation Flashpoint Forum

The [news:alt.games.operation-flashpoint ALT.GAMES.OPERATION-FLASHPOINT Usenet newsgroup (Operation Flashpoint NG)]. The link many not work, depending on your ISP's news server name, your ISP's news service not supporting subscriptions for the Operation Flashpoint NG, your NG browser's setup or other anomalies.

It is highly recommended that before you post any questions on these forums, that you use each forum's SEARCH facility to look for existing topics, threads and posts that may already provide the answers you are looking for. The forum regulars will be forever indebted to you for this. Some questions have been asked over and over again.

To search through past posts in the Operation Flashpoint NG, I recommend using Google Groups. Under the SEARCH box there, make sure you click on the "Search only in alt.games.operation-flashpoint" radio button before starting your search.

Is there a demo version of Operation Flashpoint?

Yes there are both single player and multi-player versions of the demo available!

To download the demos, go to BIS' Operation Flashpoint demo download page (dead link). If you're looking specifically for the Operation Flashpoint demo's original version, look here or here.

NOTE: the zipped single player demo file is 61MB and the multi-player demo is 50MB. If you don't have a broadband link, be patient till the download is completed.

If you decide to buy the full retail version, just remember to uninstall the demo(s) first before installing the full version afterwards.

What's all this talk about a US version and a European version?

Operation Flashpoint version 1.00 was first marketed on June 22, 2001 everywhere except for North America. This is what I'm referring to as the European version. NOTE: There are separate versions of Operation Flashpoint for the Czech Republic and for Poland, which I am not referring to here and, in fact, are generally not covered by The FAQ.

Operation Flashpoint version 1.20 became available in North America on August 28, 2001. During the interim, CM released several corrective and add-on patches. These were pre-bundled into the US version 1.20 CDs produced for the North America marketing of Operation Flashpoint.

On September 13, 2001, Codemasters released the Ultimate Upgrade 2 patch for all version 1.00 and 1.10 users to upgrade to the equivalent of US version 1.20.

From hereon in, any additional patches that will be published will be equally applicable for all installations of Operation Flashpoint. For example, the Upgrade 3 patch, released on November 12, 2001, is for all Operation Flashpoint players.

On November 29 2001, Operation Flashpoint Gold and the Operation Flashpoint Gold Upgrade went on sale. Operation Flashpoint Gold is Operation Flashpoint version 1.30, with one very important addition: "Red Hammer – The Soviet Campaign". In Red Hammer, you switch sides and play Dimitri Lukin of the Soviet Army. Red Hammer consists of 20 campaign missions.

Operation Flashpoint Gold and the Operation Flashpoint Gold Upgrade are available world-wide both through stores and software mail order firms. Besides the Red Hammer campaign, both also include a new 64-page Operation Flashpoint Prima Strategy Guide.

Operation Flashpoint Gold and the Operation Flashpoint Gold Upgrade can be purchased through links on the FAQ's Operation Flashpoint purchase page.

Are there any other games using Operation Flashpoint's game engine?

Yes! Check out Virtual Battlespace 1, an Operation Flashpoint-based military simulation system for real grunts.

According to this Gamespot UK article, the US Marine Corps began using VBS1 as of February 2002 for military training simulations.

VBS1 is a joint venture involving Operation Flashpoint's very own BIS (obviously) and Coalescent Technologies Corporation (CTC). CTC has some pages up that give you a rundown of what VBS1 is about. A good introduction on VBS1 can be found here. More specific information can be found on this page and on this one.

Will Operation Flashpoint be available for the Xbox?

Yes, see this page

Got anything to make me a better squad commander?

The first thing you should do is to thoroughly read through the SQUAD COMMAND chapter in Operation Flashpoint's Field Manual.

For a more detailed analysis of commanding a squad, Operation Flashpoint player Zovirl has compiled the Operation Flashpoint: Commander Guide for your reading pleasure.

How does Operation Flashpoint calculate mission scores?

This is a much discussed topic and I have not seen anything definitive on this to date.

Player Wouter van Gulik has compiled the following information on the subject. Anyone with additional information or corrections is invited to add it to this article, just make sure you've got all the details on how you've arrived at your conclusions:

  • 200 points for killing an enemy regular soldier (no matter what kind of soldier, rocket, MG, crew, etc.).
  • 1000 points for killing an enemy officer or spec-ops.
  • 200 points for destroying a BMP, Shilka, MI-17, UAZ, etc.
  • 1000 points (not sure about this) for destroying a T80.
  • Killing your own teammate will get you negative points. Don't know exactly how much.
  • -40 points if a soldier under your command is killed.

You will get points for achieving your mission goals, which will vary from mission to mission of course.

Note that sometimes enemy units die but you don't get any points. Try shooting a group of 3 soldiers with a law/RPG. Sometimes you'll just get 400 points, sometimes 200, sometimes 600.