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Keeping quiet in a war zone
As stealth gameplay has grown in popularity, it has cropped up in some unexpected places. The 2001 realistic open world war game Operation Flashpoint from Bohemia Interactive Studios integrated a detailed infantry simulation with land and air vehicles to create a thrilling game. Although it wasn’t billed as a stealth game, stealth itself can be used to great effect. The vast open terrain is very easy for an individual soldier to hide in, and the game featured many levels where you play as a special forces operative with objectives to sneak through enemy territory to accomplish a variety of objectives without being noticed.
One particular level stands out in the memory of anyone who has played Operation Flashpoint. You end up cut off from your compatriots with orders to make it across an island on foot to make it to an evacuation landing zone before you are left behind. You need to run across miles of forest, hill and valley while patrols of enemies sweep the area. The limited save system and the terrible vulnerability of your character make it an extraordinarily tense experience. You have to crawl through the brush to evade light armor, helicopters and soldiers. Discovery means death.
It pays off to use stealth in every level of Operation Flashpoint. The weapons are as accurate as their real world counterparts, so noticing an enemy over the horizon before they do can allow you to get the drop on entire squads before they have time to react. Sometimes, it helps to avoid enemies to maneuver to a better position. The wide open maps of Operation Flashpoint also make it so that you can choose how to approach your objectives. For example, it might make more sense to approach a town from the forest than it does to walk up the main road. The time compression function makes it less tedious to wait for patrols to move past. You can often use stealth to take down enemy armor with relative ease, so long as you manage to hide in the brush in time to avoid retaliation. Sometimes, it can even allow you to sneak into enemy encampments to steal vehicles with which you can really raise hell.
The two expansions to OFP, Red Hammer and Resistance, both expand on the stealth gameplay options, as they both have a stronger emphasis on the infantry gameplay. They’ve aged well, although you’ll have to put up with some antiquated character models and blurry textures.