Gone are the stiff animations of Dragon Rising, replaced with a wide variety of idle motions that give the soldiers various character actions. They’ll light cigarettes and smoke, they’ll stretch and adjust their weapons, check their sights and so on. Running looks realistic enough, they can throw themselves prone, vault over small walls and obstacles. They come to a sliding stop when they’re running full tilt, duck into cover when being shot at and generally give the impression that they’re soldiers in a battle. So this new iteration of Codemaster’s animation system is actually pretty good and gives a nice atmospheric feel.
The same can be said for the vehicles, they have the right looking moving parts as far as I can tell and the interiors look good with various animated features. Physics
There’s a lot of realism here in the bullet physics and the damage system has been designed to take into account the munitions used. The calibre of the weapon, the penetration value of the round and all those kinds of things are invisible to the gamer, but they’re going on in the background. So the soldiers can be shot, bleed, blown to bits if they’re on the wrong end of an m203 grenade and so on. They can also be thrown a little way from the blast of an explosion or knocked prone by a heavier combat round. There’s also a destruction layer in the game and heavier munitions can ruin buildings.
Vehicle physics are handled by Codemaster’s own racing studio, so this time the handling is a lot better than Dragon Rising.AI
Ah...there’s the rub eh, wondering why the game only got an 8? Well...the AI isn’t all that great, they’ll make some really dumb moves and often ignore a tango that comes right out and stands there in front of them. Taylor’s DOWN! Well yes, he was shot point blank by a grinning guy with an AK...I imagine that’s going to happen if he ties his shoelaces in battle!
When it works, it works really well and they’re a life-saver and great addition to the team. But when it fails, such as when you give them an order to defend and they basically hide behind a brick wall failing to shoot the bad guys as they come running over the hill...it just makes you want to put them down for good.
In short, AI needs fixing.
Enemy AI isn’t too bad; it’s probably more competent than your own AI squad.Sound
The Theatre of War is brought to life pretty well, the various weapons have a nice sound to them and the ambient/spot effects, as well as the vehicle noises are all drawn from real life inspiration and sounds. It is really scary to hear the grumble of an enemy tank and have to avoid the blast from the barrel as it slams into a nearby building.Music
Once again the music for Red River is powerful and evocative; it has overtones of the Chinese PLA’s menace and the desperation of the Insurgents throughout. It’s all wrapped up against driving themes that bark loudly and evoke the war torn country as the US roll on through. There are also desperate moments where things look grim and they are delivered with a great score. Also there are a fair few tracks from bands such as Drowning Pool and Saliva for the vehicle stereo systems just to add that extra bit of zing.Voice/Dialogue
If you don’t like swearing, well...this might not be the game for you. Sgt Knox is ably acted by the very same Apone from Aliens and that makes him a hateable and likable character at the same time. He pops more F-bombs than JDAMs in the US arsenal and has a really colourful way of putting things. The voice work is solid enough from all the actors and it works well with the story, the dialogue is well written and peppered with a lot of Marine Corps by-worlds and acronyms. Multiplayer
This is a true drop-in/out experience for System Link or Xbox Live play. Red River allows you to play with 3 other friends across all the modes of the game and have a ton of fun. This is where the game really shines and having a human Fireteam is really good when you’re rocking out the campaign. This is where you can work as a team and use all the skills that you’d expect to have learned from singleplayer to put the hurt on the bad guys. There is no adversarial multiplayer and frankly we don’t miss it. More co-op multiplayer is needed and that’s a fact. The multiplayer lobby fires up the moment you boot the game and any of your friends can join in, either in the front-end or mid-mission. It’s that simple; see someone you want to play with online invite them in, presto...done.
There were a few issues with lag at times but that could have been due to the player and not the game itself, so we’re not holding that against Red River.JDAM!
This is a game that lets you drop the JDAM on someone(s) house, this is the game that’s built for you and your friends, this is the game that might not be true to the legacy of Operation Flashpoint...this is more importantly the game that gets it right compared to Dragon Rising. If Codemasters called this: Operation: Red River or something along those lines, Flashpoint fans wouldn’t bat an eyelid and they wouldn’t give a damn about it. They have Arma 2 to immerse themselves with and yes, I have played that game.
Tell you what though, I actually thoroughly enjoyed Red River and its staying on my shelf for a long time.
This is the game that you deserve to give a chance to, regardless of your fanboy leanings.
We are Oscar Mike!