Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Byte: We're gonna game like it's 2001

Busy time for me at the moment. Not only am I back at work trying to get my Information Warehouse project off the ground, my editor at Pro-G is keeping the games coming thick and fast.

My Nanostray review finally went up this week (since it gets its UK release in the next week or two), plus I've got quite a few other things going up in the next week or so. Over the last week I've mainly been playing the excellent Operation Flashpoint: Elite, and my review of that should go up on the site tomorrow.

I don't want to pre-empt the review too much here, but it rates as one of my favourite titles on Xbox; which should be no real surprise, given that I absolutely adored the PC version. Flashpoint on the PC is still, in my opinion, the definitive version, however. A few too many compromises have been made to sustain the frame rate for my liking. The most damning of these is the narrower field of view, as it leaves you far more vulnerable to being flanked and gives you almost a tunnel-vision effect, when what you need is a greater situational awareness of your environment. Bohemia would have been far better off dropping the fancy lighting effects and motion blurring in favour of giving you superior peripheral vision. The added graphical effects are simply window dressing and can't really disguise the fact that the game's running on a five year old graphics engine. Flashpoint can't (and never did) compare graphically to the latest games, and to be honest, it doesn't need too: it's more about the experience than the eye candy.

The analogue movement and aiming with the pad feel just right. Aiming in particular feels just as unwieldy as trying to use a real rifle, where finesse is more important than speed of movement. Likewise, the addition of vibration support adds to the sense of immersion, especially in vehicles or with the weapon recoil. These additions take the sting out of the dumbed down AI and the sloppy graphics: the old Flashpoint magic is still there, and in spades.

There really isn't any other game like it. If you don't have a PC, or if you found the PC version just too damned hard, check out Flashpoint: Elite, because even though it was released about 3 years too late, it's still one of *the* great videogame titles.

Anyway. I should get back to writing this Civilization 4 review...
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