Operation Flashpoint placed you in the context of a fictitious
confrontation between Soviet and American forces circa 1985; arguably,
the last few years the Soviet machinery still had legs to stand on.
While the war has been looked at from the American and Soviet sides,
Codemasters has decided that a full blown expansion pack should focus
not on the two behemoths but of the people trapped in between: the
indigenous personnel. Faced with encroaching Soviet presence, you are
placed in the shoes of Victor Troska, a retired Soviet special forces
soldier who has moved far away from Kremlin to lead an idyllic peaceful
life. The past, unfortunately, catches up to Troska and he's soon
thrust into the heat of the action, having to choose between freedom and
near certain death in armed resistance or relative peace in the path of
compromise and appeasement. The story of the underdog is always
perennially interesting and that's exactly what the developers proceed
to focus on for the duration of Resistance.
I don't think I'm giving too much away by saying that Troska is
eventually committed to the local freedom fighters and uses his
expertise to help his ragtag mob of an army to stall the Soviet advance.
While the men he leads this time are nothing but mere civilians, he has
the advantage of surprise. The Soviets are big and encumbered. The
resistance fighters are small and easily hidden. The Soviets blunder
around the islands while the resistance fighters are fighting on
friendly turf. Their supplies, when raided, become your supplies and
those are the advantages Troska uses. Theoretically speaking, this
becomes a lot more fun and challenging than before. You aren't armed
with optimal equipment (officers, for example, only carry a pistol) and
when you run into battle, you may not even have a full clip of
ammunition on hand.
Resistance is wrapped up with a weighty storyline that is more
overbearing than before. Because it is a title that relies so much on
person-to-person contact, it becomes a requisite part of Resistance.
The lengthier expositions turns what used to be a tactical first person
shooter into something different, something more cinematic. But the
camera direction is suspect. Often, it tends to hang around on specific
shots and dwell on scenes far too long. The loquacious script is
filled with elements to develop camaraderie and flesh out Troska's
motives but it too could use some judicious editing.
That's not to say Resistance does not have its moments. It is working
from a solid foundation and manages to introduce new things that attempt
to transcend the rather mechanical nature of a tactical first person
shooter. You aren't simply given mission briefings and overhead maps
but actual human motives to start your missions. Forked story paths in
the beginning allow you to choose between siding with the armed rebels
in resistance or the Soviets in appeasement. Being able to pillage from
the enemy's stock or commandeer their weapons against themselves is a
thrill that shouldn't be missed.
While Flashpoint's debut was received with critical acclaim, especially
for its rousing visuals, the eye candy has not aged gracefully. Lauded
for being able to render an entire landscape without pauses or loading,
the fault lies not in Flashpoint's scope but rather in the details.
Even with the high resolution textures applied by Resistance, it simply
doesn't look as sharp as other first person shooters.
However, it continues to have a solid military feel to it, if not in
substance, plot or vehicular machinery, at least in the basic physics
and mechanics. Recall that the developers of this game actually went
through military service. Radio chatter, ricochet effects and the
general cacophony of modern warfare are portrayed quite vividly and I
would argue few titles have approached the realism Codemasters has
achieved in this department, even after such a lengthy time.
Furthermore, there continues to be no other title that offers you the
chance to arrive on the battlefield on an APC, wade a few miles
whichever way you want on a persistent map, take over enemy armor and
control it from various positions and finally, depart from the operation
area by riding a helicopter to safety, all in real-time. The scope is
something that continues to be unrivaled.
Playing Resistance again reminded me a fair bit of my first experience
with Flashpoint but only briefly. The weak artificial intelligence is
beginning to show itself, particularly with Resistance's emphasis on
conserving supplies and conserving personnel. In some missions, some
people are just not allowed to die. Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
worked around that by scripting everyone to the tee, like an old black
and white WWII television show. Only those characters that are intended
to die will die. In Resistance, the action is more dynamic and it
becomes incumbent on you, as Troska, as the leader of the resistance, to
safeguard your comrades' lives. But they don't return the favor and
often wander into withering fire. Realism is sometimes fun but it can
also be frustrating.
I admit it is strange for me to reference the Medal of Honor series.
Clearly, that type of first person shooter is one that aims for maximum
cinematic effect with a heavy dose of scripting. Resistance, on the
other hand, appears to be worlds away from it, if not for the emphasis
on creating a cinematic story. I recall my first run through Medal of
Honor's Omaha Beach map. I barely knew what to do in the chaos and
parked myself behind an obstacle for most of the time. The same thing
happened with Flashpoint but then you realize that all the tension and
suspense is really created by yourself. In Medal of Honor, I was
scared crucial companion soldiers would die, only to fire on them by
accident and realize it was all a farce. They were, for all intents and
purposes until their proscribed date with the grim reaper, invincible.
Thus, when you begin to poke at the artificial boundaries (created
mostly by your own imagination and the help of convincing
audio-visuals), the bubble bursts and you'll find that if you take a
more gung-ho initiative, you'll have more success on the battlefield
than cowering (as what happens in real life) in a corner. Resistance
absolutely demands this because it has none of Medal of Honor's
safeguards, so you'll be forced to act independently, unnaturally
extending the flank of your squad formation or proactively scouting
forward alone to eliminate or snipe chokepoints in order for the 'very
crucial plotline VIPs' to survive. That's not a criticism to Resistance
though. It's something that needs to be worked out if the
storied/scripted first person shooter is going to meet the dynamic
tactical first person shooter.
Speaking of first person shooters, few succeed without a competent
multiplayer component. In Resistance, the multiplayer component is
still comprehensive with vehicles and human playing spots easily
substituted by the computer. That's something that I always considered
a strength of the Flashpoint engine. Unfortunately, it's nowhere near
as accessible as other titles of this genre. This isn't to say it's a
bad product. Resistance still has a lot to offer, especially for those
who gave up Flashpoint after its inaugural release. This copy will
patch you up and make sure you're ready to join in on the multiplayer
When it was initially released though, Flashpoint was very much the dark
horse amongst its peers and it'll need more to keep its success in the
face of titles like Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six, Delta Force and the
forthcoming SWAT. Codemasters' response is a meaty story. However,
with first person shooters like Medal of Honor, Wolfenstein and Soldier
of Fortune all coming out with increasing attention to realism as well
as story, Resistance sets itself up against two groups of first person
shooters and in the final analysis, comes up short against both.