Grab a bag of nuts and man the #%&@ up!
As I crept into an eerily abandoned village on the outskirts of Tajikistan, it took roughly three and a half seconds into my second mission before Operation Flashpoint: Red River caught me slippin’. I logged some quick kills on the way in, built up my bravado, and no sooner had I stepped out of cover to get a better look at a squadmate-sighted enemy insurgent than I saw a brief flash of a bobbling blue turban—and took one in the neck. Somewhere between there and the ground, I realized this tour of duty was not for the faint of heart.
Ironically, Red River—the sequel to unsung simulator Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising—is Codemasters’ attempt to build a bridge between its historically hardcore series and the flashy thrill rides that currently flood the FPS market. It’s not as arcadey as the rest of the roller coasters out there, but with tightened objectives, slick presentation, and competent voice acting ripped straight from the pages of your favorite wartime television series, Red River offers up the most approachable Flashpoint title to date—and, despite some rough edges, I have to say I’m impressed.
While I’m not a huge fan of the ridiculous amount of time spent running through the game’s massive environments or the brutal checkpoint system that punishes the run-and-gun style that defines most shooters, Red River’s levels look awfully authentic, and the sense of pending dread that precludes most firefights had me on the edge of my seat. In that sense, Flashpoint’s decision to continue its less-forgiving mortality model is a welcome change to the endless bullets required to ace an opponent in other titles. Even without a dedicated cover system, watching your ass actually matters here, and the reward of putting down enemies alongside your surprisingly accurate teammates never fails to illicit a decisive “Oorah!” when the final body falls. Add in the fact that you’ll get to battle through the entire campaign with up to three friends, and you’ve got a unique, well-produced experience here that deserves to be played.
And that’s without considering the game’s substantial class-driven upgrade system or the more compact quickmatch-style “fire team engagements”—both of which added endless hours to replay value and helped me look past some occasion glitches with AI pathfinding and the dev team’s apparent obsession with cardiovascular fitness to genuinely dig into this incredibly demanding title. It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you’re tired of the same old turkey shoot, Operation Flashpoint: Red River just might make a man of you this summer.
SUMMARY: It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you’re tired of the same old turkey shoot, Red River just might make a man of you this summer.
- THE GOOD: Excellent co-op modes, immersive campaign
- THE BAD: No competitive multiplayer, occasional bugs
- THE UGLY: Unforgiving checkpoint system