Thursday, August 23, 2007

Military training sim on sale now!

I got a newsletter from Codemasters today informing me that they have released a new video of their upcoming game "Operation Flashpoint 2" which gamers in our circle have been waiting for with much anticipation.

We've played the original Operation Flashpoint for years now, on and off. What made the game so attractive was the freedom it gave you inside its virtual world. The game is set in 1985 during the cold war and you play the part of a US soldier on a fictitious island when it comes under attack from Russian forces. You are thrust into several different situations from running for your life to spearheading massive assaults to supporting guerrilla freedom fighting forces formed from the original residents of the island. The storyline was fairly strong for a computer game and depending on your actions, successes or failures the game could have different endings. Playing from the first person view of a soldier, you have the freedom to more around and interact within a fantastically detailed 3D world with a multitude of weapons and vehicles. During the game you'd ride in or drive jeeps, truck, cars, helicopter gunships, motorbikes, gunboats, ultralight aircraft, fighter jets and anything else that you could find to climb into. And you could walk for hours. Weapons were much more realistic than most games with long range shots needing to lead moving targets and account for your shots falling over distance. It doesn't take long to notice the lack of health bars. There were basically two health settings. Uninjured and shot. If you were shot, you were usually dead. If in the unlikely event that you got shot and you weren't dead, then you would have serious problems. Depending on where you got shot, you would suddenly find that you couldn't shoot straight or you couldn't walk anymore. This made the game very intense both in single player mode and multi-player mode. Two official expansions were released for it allowing you to play as a Russian soldier on the opposing force side or as a freedom fighter against the invading Russians. The fan community also created a huge base of mods, add-ons and campaigns, sometimes changing the entire game, like updating everything from 1985 to modern and current spec weapons and vehicles. It's a great game. I like it. Still.

Anyway, Codemasters have been working on Operation Flashpoint 2 for quite a few years now. That doesn't mean OFP2 will be good. Microsoft worked on Vista for five years and its crap. A quick search on YouTube will find you the Operation Flashpoint 2 clip that Codemasters released. It looks pretty, but apparently it's pre-rendered. If you download the same clip as an mpeg version from their website, it looks prettier, but it's still pre-rendered. It's not an example of true gameplay graphics, although apparently they have used the actual game models.

But y'know what is interesting...

The Australian division of Bohemia Interactive Studios, Bohemia Interactive Australia thought the original Operation Flashpoint was so good that they could made a modified version of it and market it to the United States Marine Corp as a training simulator. It's called Virtual Battlespace or VBS and has been modified and developed over the last few years It has been improved and added to by the USMC, USARMY and the Australian Army. Virtual Battlespace 2 has just been released and now they are making both VBS1 and VBS2 available to the general public. Not only that, but huge amounts of the custom content created for the simulations by defence forces are being released as expansion packs.

This software is not considered gaming software. It is a hardcore simulation. However Bohemia Interactive know from the fan base that Operation Flashpoint created that this is software that gamers would like to "play". The Virtual Battlespace store is open and while it is more expensive than the average PC game, it's quite cheap for an authentic military simulator. At the time of writing, the VBS1 by itself would set you back AU$168.00. They have two VBS1 packages available. The VBS1 Special Offer and the VBS1 DVD Suite.

VBS1 Special Offer - AU$239.00
  • Virtual Battlespace 1
  • Terrain Pack 1
  • Special Forces Pack 1
  • Animal Pack 1
  • Observer 3.0
VBS1 DVD Suite - AU$1,177.00
  • Virtual Battlespace 1
  • Terrain Pack 1
  • Terrain Pack 2
  • Terrain Pack 3
  • USARMY Pack 1
  • USMC Pack 1
  • Australian Defence Force 1
  • Australian Defence Force 2
  • Special Forces Pack 1
  • OPFOR Pack 1
  • Animal Pack 1
  • After Action Review 3
  • Observer 3.0
  • Instructor Interface
  • Various bonus add-ons and maps from VBSresources.com
The new version, VBS2 will set you back a hefty AU$1,802.00, but wow, get a load of those screenshots!

Sah! Yes Sah!

1 comment:

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