It may be hard to classify what genre Operation Flashpoint falls into. It involves guns, sure, but it ain't no shoot 'em up (play it in this manner and you won't last long) it ain't really a war game (it's far too serious for that) so I think it's safe to say that it's a soldier simulation and a hell of a simulation at that.
The game is set in the cold war climate of 1985 with the century seeming doomed to hosting its third world war. You play Armstrong who initially follows orders but later in the simulation has to give them. There is a main campaign with a further ten stand alone missions. There is even a mission creator which should mean that the Internet will soon be awash with a load of downloadable missions. The feel of the simulation is outstanding. I for one of have never been a soldier but the thrill of sneaking through the bushes and awaiting orders from your leader is tremendous. The chance to drive jeeps, tanks and helicopters and many other vehicles is just too good an opportunity to pass by and the simulation deserves an award just for the sheer variety that is on offer.
The campaign begins with familiarising you with the controls through simple tasks. All instructions appear textually. The manual is also very informative and does its fare share to ease you into things. It soon becomes obvious that you must pay close attention to what your leader is saying as failure to follow orders often leads to the 'You are dead' message appearing. The artificial intelligence within the game is amazing; both your enemies and fellow soldiers seem to behave very realistically. Firing in the direction of the enemy is asking for trouble if you're not prepared, as they retaliate in a very realistic manner. Should you be killed you can restore the game to its last restore point. This may put some people off but the restore points are not too far apart and they are not as harsh as the system used in Project IGI where you had to complete the mission without any kind of save point. The campaign is excellent and the missions offer enough variety to keep you interested.
While the gameplay is unmatched the graphics are poor in places. The bushes and various other plantlife appear flat and some of the textures look like they came from a game that is two years old. However the poor quality of the graphics does not really damage the experience but it would have been nice if they had have been upto date.
Unlike most games of this kind Operation Flashpoint does actually cater for deaf gamers. Subtitles are on by default and are very good. Visual indicators are also included. The only feature I needed to turn on in the options was the indicator for the enemy vehicles/soldiers. There aren't too many occasions where you need to be able to hear approaching enemies as the visual indicators nearly always seem to give you a clue of how close you are to the enemy. All in all Operation Flashpoint does a very good job of giving deaf gamers the opportunity to experience life as a soldier.
Overall Game Rating: 8.9/10 Surpasses Hidden & Dangerous as the ultimate soldier simulator.
Quality of text: 10/10 Superb text feedback and a very good manual.
Graphics: 6.5/10 A shame they weren't more upto date.
Interface:9/10 Very easy to get used to.
Gameplay: 10/10 The ultimate soldier simulator.