Codemasters has said that it's pulling ongoing support for Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, the military shooter it released last October.
There'll be no more patches or DLC beyond the upcoming release of the Overwatch add-on on PS3, one of the community team posted on the game's forum (thanks, VG247).
"I just wanted to inform you all that the team have now completed the Dragon Rising chapter of Operation Flashpoint and that's it for DR-related content going forward," community manager Ian Webster said.
Wow, so many games, so much to write about and so little time to cover absolutely everything. It's fair to say that the office is almost literally dripping with code, and there's simply not enough manpower to dissect it all while maintaining regular Digital Foundry duties. So, with this month's mammoth 22nd Face-Off, we're covering six of the best and the most interesting of the recent releases, with the aim being to take a look at the rest over a series of smaller-scale DF blog updates as and when time permits.
As usual, the words are backed up with a battery of comparison shots, and pristine quality h264 videos too - all derived losslessly from the HDMI ports of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. In a slight departure from the presentations of past, the cropped 632x500 vids are now history. They did the job admirably before Eurogamer TV transitioned to HD, but with full 720p at our disposal, the old-school videos seemed somewhat superfluous to requirements.
The full 720p presentations are now embedded into the article itself in a similar manner to the DF Bayonetta demo showdown: simply press the full-screen button in the player to get the full effect, or click through using the EGTV link to get a larger window.
As we all know, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is positioned as the realistic war game - the fact to Modern Warfare's fiction, if you like - and Codemasters' ballsy approach has worked well: the game is enjoying a third week in UK charts top-five surrounded by blockbuster competition.
The Eurogamer Black Hawk that carried Sergeant Parkin into Skira didn't come straight home. It crossed the densely-forested console/PC border and dropped off another eager soldier-simmer before returning to base. I was that simmer and this is what I learnt from my time in-country.
The first emotion Dragon Rising stirred in me? Disappointment. Launching into the 11-mission campaign fresh from a bout of ArmA II, the flat lighting, washed-out sepia tones and low-res terrain textures of the Skiran landscape had me checking I hadn't minimised the graphics settings by mistake. Later outings in sunnier/moonier conditions show off the vast seamless battlespace far better, but still, it's hard to shake the feeling that Codemasters has lost the beauty contest to Bohemia Interactive.
If we're going to be petty and keep score, the British devs equalise with their elegant radial-menu based GUI. A control system that allows you to order squad-mates about, altering everything from their stances to their rules of engagement to the sides they part their hair, is never going to be idiot-proof, but Dragon Rising's logically-layered menus, accessed through the oh-so-convenient WSAD keys, come mighty close.
Infinity Ward is a liar. An excellent liar with a clutch of fantastic, irresistible lies, but a liar nevertheless. Its Modern Warfare games claim to show players the future of professional conflict, a virtual replication of the horrors and thrills that will soon buffet soldiers to their particular nation's greater good. And we swallow the story. Who knows if, like many of Hollywood's action movie producers, Call of Duty is part-funded by the US military? It would certainly be money well spent. As an army recruitment tool the series is unrivalled: how many young men have been drawn to real battlefields, inspired to enlist by their glories on those virtual ones?
But Modern Warfare's relentless firework display of mortars and corridored, Michael Bay-esque set-pieces are, in truth, little more than a theme-park approximation of combat. The slick drama, that flows largely absent of reality's upsets, is more military-themed rollercoaster than sober training tool. As a result, in some far-flung theatre of war, a gamer soldier today lies facedown in the sod, his friends dying all around, no mission checkpoint markers to guide his advances or soft-save his progress, cursing the day he swallowed the lie. Codemasters sidles up alongside him, drops to one knee and presses Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising into his wounded hands, whispering: "If it was truth you were after, soldier, you should have played this."
Mission 7: Bleeding Edge. My four-man squad is huddled close to the battle's edge, but not quite close enough. It's a long walk to the first objective: an enemy AT team blocking a road that must be cleared out before our vehicles can advance. If there's one thing you're going to be doing a lot of in Operation Flashpoint, it's walking. The game's much-touted 35-mile draw distance may be an excellent back-of-the-box boast, but you'll rue the scale when you have to trek across it. As a simulation, even these fit marines tire soon enough when running at full pelt, the frantic pulse of their hearts soon vibrating loud through the controller. Moreover, take a stray bullet to the leg and you won't be running anywhere in a hurry.
I once got lectured by a man at a wedding about Operation Flashpoint. I'd made the mistake of mentioning what I do for a living, but instead of smiling, nodding and pretending to listen while I explained just what a burden it is deciding between two numbers all the time, he went a little purple and asked if I'd heard of ArmA. I didn't have time to answer before he launched into a fifteen-minute tirade against Codemasters, accusing them of being traitorous and misleading money-grabbers for making a game under the name Operation Flashpoint while its real creators Bohemia Interactive, supported by a real community of real fans, were making real sequels to the most real war game ever made and didn't I think it would be worth writing an exposé about that?
Remarkably it's been eight years since the release of the original Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis. The ultra-realistic tactical shooter veered drastically from the route the FPS was taking, aiming for hardcore realism and extreme difficulty in a gaming world that was about to ditch the ubiquitous medpack for regenerating health. Since then the original developer, Bohemia, has released an updated sequel, ArmA: Armed Assault, and is currently working on ArmA 2. In a much-publicised split, Bohemia retain the rights to make sequels, but publisher Codemasters has the rights to the game's name. Hence their unofficial sequel, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising. Confused? Just forget about it all, and focus on being excited about what OPF:DR has to offer.
"I love war movies and I love the bits when people die in war movies," says Sion Lenton, executive producer of Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, with a disturbing glint in his eye. More specifically, Lenton's talking about the lengths he went to in order to ensure this updated version doesn't skimp on the horrors of war. "Catastrophic damage" is how he describes the injury model in this long-awaited sequel to the 2001 cult PC hit, which left many FPS addicts weak-kneed with its brutal realism, and his dedication to detail extends to letting the animation team film him writhing on the office floor in mock agony for visual reference.
After so many years in development hell, it's refreshing to see one of gaming's great enigmas finally come out of hiding. Due for release sometime in spring next year, Codemasters has decided that the time is now right to start taking the wraps off Operation Flashpoint 2 - arguably the most ambitious military shooter simulation to date.
Codemasters has told everyone its new in-house engine is called EGO. Still raining, here.
It is an evolution of the Neon engine under the hood of Colin McRae: DiRT, and has been developed by the Central Technology Unit for three long years - doesn't Jack Bauer work for them?
The news is that not everyone licenses Unreal Engine 3 or Source, we suppose, and this project has apparently taken a good chunk of the GBP 40.5 million Codemasters invested in boosting design and technology - 150 per cent more than last year.
Codemasters showed key titles for the year ahead at its Code07 event in Bedfordshire earlier this week, airing nine titles and making announcements for Operation Flashpoint 2, Rise of the Argonauts and Race Driver One.