Talking of team...you have 3 other men under your command. These men can be customised just like your main character and assigned any of the 4 classes and all of the weapons/mods unlocked at that point in your career. If you want to roll with 3 Scouts in your Fireteam, you can. 20th Level Scouts make some of the defence missions a real breeze until the vehicles roll in. Red River removes the cumbersome orders wheel from the previous game and replaces it with a slicker right bumper interface, there are a reduced number of orders on offer and no order to stop your men from firing once youíve given them a suppress. You have to literally order them to do something else, you can stop them with Hold Fire but theyíll carry on suppressing when you give the all clear.
Itís a slight oversight but an important one non-the-less when you need a fine tactical approach.
With just a few orders per slot on the wheel, itís not hard to use the command interface and pull up the right command. With a tap of the left bumper you can switch to the Fire Support wheel and let loose that JDAM youíve always wanted to drop on the enemy, providing you have the all clear of course.
Itís possible to order the team or your individual men and in the heat of battle, the smoother menu pays dividends. If youíre not the Fireteam Leader you can still use the wheel but the options are different and are layered into responses and target painting. This is very useful when youíre playing with human Fireteam members. Something weíll talk about later on.
There are a limited amount of vehicles on offer and you wonít be driving Tanks or Choppers on this outing, this is all about smaller group engagements with the resources available to the soldiers under Knoxís command. Not just rolling in with tanks and levelling everything in sight.
You can play the Fireteam Engagements, FTEís. These are self-contained semi-random mission types with 2 maps a piece. They are:
CSAR: Combat Search and Rescue: get 2 downed chopper pilots to the chopper and ward off any enemy presence.
Combat Sweep: Take out the Insurgent presence and blow up any weapon caches that you might find. A bonus is awarded for the time taken to clear each map. Do it quickly for that awesome GOLD medal.
Rolling Thunder: Keep the convoy safe, keep it from being destroyed. Kill all the bad guys and keep the vehicles moving, if they stop, you lose points and can go into negative score. The good news is that you get 500 points per checkpoint. Now go get those points!
Last Stand: The enemy are coming in waves; you have to hold them back. You can Bug Out at any time but the longer you hold, the more rewards you get and the higher the experience payout is at the end. If you donít hold the line and the enemy overwhelm you or you run out of respawns Ė game over man, game over.
These engagements can be played single player or with friends, weíll talk about the multiplayer a little bit later though.
Finally the game has mid-mission checkpoints that allow you to come right back in later on and continue, even if you go off and play a few FTEís to get some more experience. This system makes it much more fun to play the game and there are fewer headaches all round. Itís simple enough and for those Hardcore fans there are various settings that allow you to play the game with reduced HUD and no crosshairs, no checkpoints and so on.
Thereís also aim-assist which can be toggled on and off in the option menu, donít think itís like CoD aim-assist though, youíre still going to have to use bullet drop training from earlier.Graphics
Red River is a significant step up from Dragon Rising in terms of the graphics. War-torn Tajikistan is an interesting place and itís packed with detail. The dust and smoke clouds obscure vision and the sun is filtered through a haze of desert sand. Itís graphically fairly pretty and whilst it doesnít stand head to head with the triple-A titles itís not a slouch in those terms either. The character models are pretty good and they are nicely textured with a decent level of detail on the soldiers and the vehicles. There are no real instances of pop-in or out as well and the whole thing hums along at a decent framerate even when a JDAM goes off. A lot of attention to detail has gone into the interiors of the vehicles you can control. The graphics also extend to the damage system and some of the wound effects look pretty spot on.