Welcome back to the War
I like these kinds of games and Iím notoriously hard to please in that respect, what I am not is a rabid Hardcore Operation Flashpoint fan, which will start to foam at the mouth the moment that something is wrong with a game that bears the name of their beloved franchise. If you want that kind of realism then go and enlist in a real army or play Arma 2 plus the many expansions. Anyone who knows the history of this series knows that Bohemia Interactive went away and made Armed Assault 1 and 2 leaving Flashpoint in the hands of Codemasters.
So weíve had Dragon Rising, which was an ok game. I quite enjoyed it beyond the punishing level of difficulty at times. The terrible AI aside it was actually a good game when played with friends.Story
Operation Flashpoint: Red River is set in Tajikistan just over the border of Afghanistan and features nods towards 911 and Osama Bin Ladenís terrorist faction Al Qaeda. The Insurgents have been striking the Chinese and the whole region has now become a Flashpoint, itís up to Staff Sergeant Knox and his beloved Outlaw Platoon to go in and clean up the mess before it ignites into a full scale war.Gameplay
Red River is a leaner beast than Dragon Rising and many of the features that were in the previous game have been streamlined, or removed entirely. This has given the game a wider appeal and made it slightly easier to get into for the non-Hardcore fans of the series. Red River is definitely far more accessible and definitely more playable than Dragon Rising right from the get-go.
Anyone familiar with the mechanics and controls of a First Person shooter is going to feel right at home here, barring the edge of realism thatís been layered upon the shooting mechanics. There are things like penetration to consider, calibre of the weapon that youíre using and the most important which is distance to target. You see unlike in CoD where a bullet can fly hundreds of meters and strike a target with impunity across the battlefield, in Red River the bullet loses power over distance and thatís something that tends to be known as: bullet drop.
Itís something to bear in mind when looking at the game, since you need to adjust your aim and fire above the target so that the round lands smack on their smug nogginí rather than smashing into the dirt in an embarrassing short-fall cloud of sand and gravel. Once you begin to realise that thereís a physics engine working behind the weapons in the game, you start to adapt your play style and find out thereís a very decent shooter under all the Team America Oooh-rah!
Itís a game that rewards patience and it rewards perseverance too. You can actually mark where you get better at Red River and see the difference following some of SSgt Knoxís 10 simple rules to surviving in Tajikistan. Our initial forays were met with a lot of cursing and swearing, since the game is hard if you make a few mistakes and one bullet can kill you outright. You may be lucky and get hosed by the Insurgentís AK dropping you into a downed bleeding- out state or you might be one-shot-killed there and then. Several factors come into play, most of them behind the scenes and worked out by the gameís combat engine.
If you take a penetrative wound you will start to bleed, you can patch yourself and heal that wound. You can let the AI or fellow Marines heal you and patch you up. Itís all about using cover, the various stances: kneeling and prone, to effectively put obstacles between you and them allowing your sights to fall on the enemy and the bullets to hit the barricade. Be warned, ricochets can still kill you if youíre very unlucky.
The controls are simple enough; you can quickly get to grips with the basics and learn how to turn on and off your equipment. This includes torches for badly lit buildings, Night Vision goggles and an IR Marker to paint those targets to let your team know where to shoot at night. You can carry a primary weapon (usually some kind of rifle) and a secondary weapon (often a pistol or an SMG), a few grenades and some other toys that open up later on or are mission specific. You can also vault over low walls, which means you can flank the enemy on the other side fairly easily now.
There are 4 classes in Red River (Scout, Rifleman, Auto-Rifleman and Grenadier) and thereís a customisation layer that allows you to load them out as you unlock various weapons. The more you do in the game, the more you gain experience points that give you a level up and the higher level you are the better equipment you can field and so on. Each class is different and amongst the weapons, there are also class modifiers that change things subtly again. For instance a Scout can eventually gain the modifier that allows them to mostly ignore bullet drop over longer distances, itís still there but greatly reduced due to high-velocity rounds.
As you complete out missions in the campaign or Fireteam Engagements (of which there are 4 main modes and 2 missions a pop) you get medals, bronze, silver and gold. Gold awards you 3 points, silver 2 and bronze 1. Those points can be placed in the core skills of your character and they are persistent across all 4 classes. So for instance you can put points in skills like Tactical Awareness, allowing you to ID targets across longer distances keep them in your HUD for longer and be more aware of threats in general. Assault Rifle Training and Handling improve your use of basic rifles and so on. There are several core skills and investing the points in those pays dividends in later missions and FTEís.
With 20 levels to gain across 4 classes and unique mods to unlock for each one, thereís a lot of play right there and then. The main campaign is pretty big and it has missions that can take 45 minutes or more to complete when youíre looking to keep yourself alive and your team healthy.