Operation Flashpoint Red River
In the lead up to Red River’s release, one of the most concerning rumours was that Codemasters had decided to make the series more accessible to the Call of Duty saturated mainstream gamers. When the game first arrived I flipped over to take a look on the back. I had been expecting online multiplayer, but instead was greeted with online co-op. Maybe Codies hadn’t gone all Call of Duty after-all.
After playing through the first mission, it’s easy to see where Codies have made it more accessible. When you were running across the fiction island of Skira in Dragon Rising, the previous game in the series, the first you would know that there was enemies about, quite often as a fatal bullet to the cranium.
In Red River however, your squad mates have been eating bags of carrots and helpfully callout every single enemy before they even become visible to your slow human mind – well, not quite every, but you get the idea. Add to this the ability to heal your self and your squad, with you take a couple of bullets – with the exception of a lucky shot to the head – and you have a far more accessible game without taking away the heart of the game.
Operation Flashpoint has always been a realistic tactical shooter that rewarded caution, tactical approach and team work over Rambo style, run in with guns blazing, game-play. This is pretty much what has set it apart form the Call of Duty series and every other FPS shooter out there.
Of course, taking a realistic tactical approach to modern warfare sees you play the role of leading a Marine Core Fire Team into battle, which severely reduces your kill count and increasing the amount of time spent humping through the countryside to get from one objective to another.
But this – even thought it may not sound that exciting – is where the magic of Red River lies. Even though your capable mates might be able to spot enemy troops for you, you still never know when they are going to pop up, and when you do reach your objective, it’s usually fairly well defended and you will find yourself running for cover whilst you figure out what the hell you need to do next.
Running ahead of your Fire Team to win the war by yourself will often find you turning a corner to find the enemy – who will fill you with hot lead faster than you can raise your rifle.
Bringing up the tactical menu – a simple button push and the d-pad gives you an array of tactical choices – will give you the edge you need. Suppression, flanking or just sending your team ahead whilst your cover them – and get the kills – is how the war is won in Red River.
Red River is a game that is surprisingly hard to put down. The knowledge that making the wrong choice can end the mission prematurely really manages to pile on the tension, especially in the big fire-fights where cries of man down seem to be all to regular.
Sadly the elation of figuring out the best way to rout the enemy and taking the objective is destroyed by having to jog back to the Humvee and then having to endure a seemingly pointless cut scene where you ride in the back of the Humvee listening to Knox – your Commanding Officer – tell you what a pathetic bunch of losers you are, whilst swearing with a frequency that would make Eminem blush.
Of course the cut scenes could be part of Codies efforts at keeping it real, by forcing your to endure what most grunts have to endure – an awful lot of down time.
For it’s flaws, Red River is an engaging game that will keep you on your toes and make you wonder why you ever bothered playing Call of Duty.