Operation Flashpoint: Red River Review
Operation Flashpoint: Red River had me from the moment the intro video started playing. It gives a brief history lesson of the events that leads to your mission as a U.S. Marine in Tajikistan. This video is funny, witty, and informing. With this as an introduction, Codemasters takes the player to 2013 to participate in missions that feel real. That is the point of Red River: realism.
The game is classified as a tactical shooter. It has more realism than Call of Duty but less action-packed moments. That's not to say the game isn't exciting. It's just different. Consider this game a hybrid of SOCOM and Call of Duty, using squad-based gameplay and thriving off strategy.
Positioning is everything in Operation Flashpoint. You can direct your squad members to follow you or take cover behind a wall and lay down suppressing fire on a building, allowing you to move. These decisions can determine the success of your mission.
Unlike CoD, you won't be running around a map, spraying bullets and resting behind walls while you wait for your health status to return to normal. In this game, if you get shot then you will continue to bleed. You need to patch the wound immediately. The same goes for your teammates. You don't want them bleeding out; otherwise you are down a man.
One shot can be deadly in this game. Sometimes you'll learn that the hard way, like when you attempt to sprint to a building 80 yards away just to get shot and have to reload from the last checkpoint. The realism of this game will frustrate some, but it will also fill a niche role for others looking for more strategy to their shooter.
None of this means that the squad mechanics won't frustrate you. Sometimes you need to direct your AI friendlies to get into a truck or hide behind a wall instead of standing in the open getting shot. It feels like you're trying to direct a group of 10 year-olds at times. This game is an entirely different experience when playing with AI, as opposed to playing with three others in a drop-in, drop-out four-player campaign.
The game also features an RPG-type element to it. Each player fills one of four Marine roles: rifleman, grenadier, scout and automatic rifleman, each with their own weapons and abilities. Players also gain experience for whatever roles they are playing as. The experience is used to unlock new weapons, attachments, and perks for each class, and players also get to upgrade the core abilities of those roles by assigning points into areas that let you sprint longer, give you more accuracy with a certain weapon, or switch weapons more quickly. It's a good feature that lets you feel like you are working toward something other than finishing the story.
The language that is used by the characters can rub some people the wrong way. They don't curse like sailors; they curse like Marines. Every line of dialogue takes me to new heights of profanity that I didn't know existed. Curse words are used to describe everything, and each sentence is laden with them. However, it is authentic. My cousin, who was in the Marines, told me so.
The game isn't without its faults. The HUD is cluttered and hard to understand, the waypoints aren't always clear on where to go, there's a lot of cut scenes and long buffering times, and it can get really annoying having to patch anytime you or a teammate get shot. Also, while the game looks fine, it isn't kicked up to the Call of Duty level.
Operation Flashpoint: Red River isn't your typical shooter. You're not going to be a gunslinger, running into a compound to take out a horde of enemies like a one-man wolf pack. It's a slower, more tactical, squad-based shooter that relies on teamwork, strategy, and finesse. With a good upgrade system for each role and a smart co-op experience, this game offers a realistic and authentic experience of what a United States Marine might experience in combat. Semper Fi!
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]
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