Operation Flashpoint: Red River
The Operation Flashpoint series hangs its helmet on creating realistic military experiences that convey the lethality and tactics of modern warfare. But as Red River demonstrates, an unchecked dedication to realism can cripple the entertainment factor.
Like the HBO series Generation Kill, Red River doesn’t spare you the boredom of Marine life. In between firefights in this near-future Tajikistan conflict, you gaze at the barren landscape during long Humvee rides, trudge along uneventful foot patrols, and twiddle your thumbs during chopper transports. Rather than fill these action lulls with character development, your over-aggressive CO performs a tired impression of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket the entire time. When he’s not harping about his *** rules, he’s shouting over-written insults that almost always fall flat.
With the CO yelling survival tips, you’d think your fellow squad members would pick up a thing or two. Once the bullets start flying you realize they need more babysitting than a state senator outside the green zone. They ignore orders, walk into crossfire, and absorb more lead than a bulletproof vest test dummy. The needlessly complicated squad interface doesn’t do you any favors, either.
Given your worthless AI brethren, the only way to play Red River is the four-player online co-op. Here it’s easier to appreciate Operation Flashpoint’s more realistic approach to combat, which requires you to take a methodical approach, watch your six, and flank. The campaign starts slowly, but once the Chinese join the fray the battles intensify and Red River finds a comfortable rhythm. Completing missions unlocks new weapon modifications, perks, and skill points that improve your leatherneck’s endurance, accuracy, and awareness.
Only once the battles increase in scale do the myriad technical faux pas take a backseat to the gunfights. Poor vehicle controls, long load times, predictable level designs, and shallow enemy AI all plague the experience. New objectives often fail to trigger, and if you venture into areas the game doesn’t expect you to, suddenly the resolution takes a laughable dip into N64-quality textures.
Your multiplayer choices outside of the campaign are sparse. Red River offers a few terrorist hunt-style co-op challenges, but they lack an innovative spark.
Instead of shoring up Dragon Rising’s shortcomings and improving the Operation Flashpoint experience, this sequel stubbornly clings to the quest for realism while ignoring the technical issues plaguing both games. Red River’s gun frequently jams, and Codemasters couldn’t be bothered to fix the problem before joining the war.
Red River’s gun frequently jams, and Codemasters couldn’t be bothered to fix the problem before joining the war.