29th April 2011 - It's finally here, the sequel to one of the best realistic Tactical Shooter games on Consoles and PC, Operation Flashpoint: Red River brings you a whole new element to realistic shooters in a fictitious but a plausible future style. The game boasts a whole new Co-op system where players are able to opt in and out of games to their own choosing. Will the game be better than its predecessor?
If you haven't played Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising don't worry as Red River has a completely different storyline to its predecessor. The gameplay for Red River is similar but has had changes implemented and is now a lot easier to pick up and learn compared to Dragon Rising. The controls on console are very similar to Battlefield controls and fairly easy to get used to. The game boasts a lot of realism in that you can be killed with 1 bullet, there is bullet drop, and you can also bleed out from wounds you sustain in combat unless you treat it.
The game starts in Tajikistan where you, the United States Marine Corp, are defending the country against Afghanistan insurgents. The USMC is asked to leave by the People's Liberation Army of China (yet another favourite from the games predecessor), and the USMC decide it's not in their best interest to leave the country in the state it is currently in, so hence starts the fictitious fight between the USMC and the PLA. The fictional conflict boasts many realistic combat situations like IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), Close Quarter Battles, Hit and Run tactics used by the insurgents, Spotting enemies, Flanking and Rushing techniques, Calling in Combat Munitions amongst many of the tactical manoeuvres the game boasts.
Red River has 2 different game modes that being Campaign (Single Player or Co-op) and Fireteam Engagements. Fireteam Engagements are basically mini missions you can perform Cooperatively with friends or by yourself with AI where you have to perform certain objectives for each different mode with the Fireteam Engagements this being Last Stand (kind of like a Horde mode where you defend a fixed position against the PLA), CSAR (you are sent out rescue Helicopter pilots from a downed Helicopter) and Convoy (you are sent out to protect a convoy of Humvees and Supply trucks), each mode has it's own set objectives and difficulty. The gameplay itself is somewhat open world, with the player being able to utilize various ways of approaching gunfights and mission objectives.
The AI have a set difficulty setting which seems to be variant depending on the campaign level or Fireteam Engagement or even the types of enemies you face, you can change the difficulty setting between Normal, Hard and Hardcore, there is no settings for the Casual player so be mindful of this when you decide you want to pick up this game as it's definitely not for someone who is relatively new to shooters. The AI difficulty doesn't change with each difficulty setting, what happens is the games Assistance is reduced with each difficulty setting, so say on Normal you have pretty much every Assist the game can provide such as, Lock on Targeting, Aim Assistance, GPS Assistance etc. So if you're really looking for a challenge the Hardcore setting boasts zero Assistance and you have to really play to your strengths and advantages.
The game has 4 different classes in which you can choose from that being Rifleman (regular Marine armed with Assault rifle), Auto-Rifleman (Suppression expert armed with an LMG), Grenadier (Explosives expert armed with Assault Rifle and Grenade Launcher attachment) and Scout (Ranged expert armed with a Sniper Rifle). Each with their own abilities and different types of weapons, unlike it's predecessor which had around 70 different weapons there's only around 20-25 different weapons overall and not every class can use certain weapon types, but it definitely boasts individuality for each class type. Each class is able to level to level 20 with each level gaining a new ability or weapon. The Medic class from Dragon Rising has also been removed so the players are now able to heal themselves from wounds sustained in combat instead of requiring a Medic to heal them.
Unlike its predecessor Red River doesn't have any form of Competitive multiplayer, but instead boasts a fantastic 4 player Co-op system. Players can choose to join another player no matter where or what point they are in Campaign or a Fireteam Engagement.
The graphics are a bit of a letdown but suffice to say the gameplay makes up for the lack of amazing graphics. Very similar to Homefront in the kind of style of graphics, there's a lot of rendering issues, textures not looking normal, water looking somewhat off-putting and a few other bugs and glitches. The sky is probably the best looking graphical feature of the game as it just looks amazing to look at and very realistic with the glare from the Sun when you're aiming down your sights or the Skies lit up when there are aerial battles or Flak Cannons being shot into the Air at night time. They've managed to make the environments very large and non-linear and similar to the Tajikistan area. So overall I'd say that graphics are not the greatest but probably the best that Codemasters could've done with a game of this scale.
Remember Sergeant Apone from Aliens? He does the voiceover for Staff Sergeant Knox one of the games main protagonists. Well you'll eventually get annoyed at his USMC wise cracking remarks throughout the entire game, but that being said it's basically how the USMC talk so it is tolerable. There only seems to be 2 prominent voiceover actors in the game one being the Colonel and the other being Staff Sergeant Knox, but both do a very good job in their acting and portrayal of the United States Marine Corp. The voiceovers for the enemy seem to be somewhat B Grade in comparison to Knox and the Colonel, you generally laugh at how terrible the voiceovers are when you're close to an enemy.
The gunfights and weapons seem to sound correct, not as amazing as Battlefield Bad Company 2 sounds but it's definitely fairly realistic sounding and sounds like you're in a real life battle when you go into gunfights.
There isn't actually a musical score but when you're in the back of a Humvee you'll hear multiple songs playing from Metallica, Pantera, Fun Lovin Criminals, Drowning Pool etc. Just the kind of music to get you pumped and help get your war face on.
I'm all for games that have replayability and the ability to play with friends which I believe Operation Flashpoint: Red River covers both of those fields. The Campaign itself is around 7-8 hours long and even more if you help your friends do Co-op Campaign. The Fireteam Missions can also take around 1-2 hours long and there are around 6 different ones that you can do. So I would definitely say this game is worthy of a rent at bare minimum and if you enjoy it maybe a purchase.
I actually found Operation Flashpoint: Red River very enjoyable, with a very innovative storyline, great gameplay and being different and unique from all the AAA First Person Shooter titles. Red River is definitely one of the most realistic First Person Shooter experiences you'll find on console and if you're a big fan of playing games that require skill and perseverance I'd definitely recommend this game to you.
AAG SCORE: 8/10
+ Fantastic Gameplay
+ Excellent Co-op Design
+ Well thought out Campaign
+ Lots of variety for each Class
+ Easy to use Start Menu system
+ Realistic Gameplay
- Lack of usable Vehicles (Humvee is the only Vehicle you can drive)
- Not the most amazing graphics you'd expect
- No competitive multiplayer
Reviewed and Written By James Gott