Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Thursday, 9 April 2009 13:27 UK

Codemasters games for Summer '09

By Daniel Emery
Technology reporter, BBC News

Codemasters has two titles scheduled for release in summer 2009: Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising and Fuel.

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising

OFP: Dragon Rising trailer

After five years, the successor to the seminal tactical shooter Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis is almost ready.

However, other than the name, it shares little genetic material with its predecessor.

While OFP: Cold War was developed by Bohemia Interactive, OFP: Dragon Rising has been developed in-house by Codemasters.

After Codemasters and Bohemia Interactive went their separate ways, with the Hungarian firm releasing ArmA aka Armed Assault (using the improved Flashpoint engine) there was some discussion as to who actually owned the name - and the rights - to develop future Operation Flashpoint games.

As it stands, Bohemia Interactive owns the rights to develop sequels, but Codemasters owns the Operation Flashpoint name.

Which is one of the reasons OFP: Dragon Rising is not called OFP2.

The game is loosely set on the island of Sakhalin - an island to the north of Japan that became part of Russia after the end of WWII - although it is not named as such.

The set-up of the game sees a Chinese invasion to secure the oil fields that have been discovered off shore. However, Russia has all its troops massed along the Chinese border and would leave itself open should it try and mount an invasion to retake the island. So, it does a deal with the United States: take back the island and we will supply you with cheap fuel.

It is an interesting twist on the concept of a global conflict sparked by an energy crisis that was made popular by Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

But while CoD4 was single player, OFP: Dragon Rising is a squad-based shooter, cut from the same cloth as Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six.

As well as keeping yourself alive, you are also responsible for the wellbeing of your fellow soldiers. On top of basic move orders, your squaddies can be tasked with laying down suppressing fire, storming a building or going into stealth mode.

OFP: Dragon Rising screenshot
OFP: Dragon Rising pits the US against the People's Liberation Army

At your disposal is a literal arsenal of weapons, most of which are customisable with scopes, silencers and grenade launchers. Weapons can also be looted from the bodies of your fallen foe.

You are not confined to foot either, with controllable tanks, jeeps, armoured personal carriers and helicopters at various points round the map.

The game doesn't pull any punches when it comes to graphic realism, with strong language and visceral violence. If you are hit, then wounds will bleed; lose enough blood and the game is over. Small wonder it comes with an 18 rating.

The games lead AI designer - Clive Lindop - told the BBC that this game had been built from the ground up.

"Most games are developed on one platform and then ported to the rest. Not ours.

"We have three strands of development for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 version and it is seamless," he said.

The developers say the game will have full environment damage and that the ballistics of individual rounds is realistic.

"If you fire a gun, the bullet will ricochet off things, so you can still get hit even if you are hiding behind an object," said Mr Lindop.

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is slated for release on 26 May, 2009.

Fuel

Fuel video game official trailer

Fuel is a classic vehicle racer for the PS3 and Xbox 360, with more than 70 vehicles pitted across more than 200 different challenges.

The twist is that these challenges are scattered across a map, the size of which is quite staggering; 8,000 square km of playable terrain with a draw distance of 40km.

If that was not enough, the game also has 100,000 km of road to drive on, although there is no obligation to keep to them.

The game is truly open plan and the draw distance lives up to its claims. Mountain ranges that can be seen in the distance really do get bigger as you drive towards them, with your car eventually skidding up (and down) the slopes.

However, this is an arcade racer - not a sim - and so there are some aspects that are far removed from reality.

The most obvious one is the environment. Although the developers dislike the term "post apocalyptic environment" there is no other way to describe the ruined buildings, insane weather effects (one race has you dodging more than a dozen tornados) and sandstorms. For the most part, it adds an enjoyable - if silly - dimension to the game.

Fuel screen shot
Quite why you would want to race through a tornado is never explained

On top of all this, you have more conventional weather effects - blizzards, thunderstorms and drizzle - all of which will affect your vehicle's road handling.

Much like GTA IV's Liberty City, the actual play points (where users can compete in races) are accessed by driving across the terrain. There is, rather handily, the option to jump to a hot spot by using a helicopter to carry you there sharpish. Of course, that means you will miss the various bonus items tucked away in hidden bits of the map, such as new vehicles or clothing to equip your avatar.

And on the off-chance you do manage to complete all the races, the developers have added a full editor - so players can create their own races - or join an online game for up to 16 different players.

Fuel should be in the shops by June 2009.



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