Operation Flashpoint has been a very successful franchise, targeting the first person shooter audience who like a little focus on tactics, rather than straightforward kamikaze heroics. The games started on the PC platform, but in recent years have seen many outings on the console platform also. Dragon Rising from 2009 was a fun romp, but the difficulty setting and long duration between auto saves frustrated much of the audience.
Red River is the latest game in the series, and it keeps a focus on thoughtful, slower paced strategic yearnings. This time however the developers have taken feedback onboard to present the game in a more entertaining and enjoyable manner. This has been a fun review for me, because it actually delivers entertainment in spades.
The game is based around modern terrorism and the production values are high and interesting to follow. There are certain elements of the presentation that make it slightly more lighthearted, but perhaps it is intentional. The game is littered with foul mouthed soldiers and marines.
Team chatter has more expletives than even the most adult of films and as such you won’t want to be playing this in the vicinity of your parents. It really is that extreme. Sure, it adds realism to the proceedings, but I can’t help but feel they could have dialed it down a little. The developers have also been able to inject some personality into the characters in the game, so they aren’t just another bunch of mindless cretins you don’t really care about. It is much better than many war games I have played, and I did genuinely feel a part of a team.
Call Of Duty fans may find the initial learning curve perhaps a little bewildering, because you need to control your team mates via an intuitive and deep user interface. They can enter buildings at your command and can fall back for cover equally as quickly. The Artificial Intelligence in these games is normally a disaster waiting to happen, but thankfully this is also a step above many I have played in recent years. Developer credit, where it is due. Sure, they are times they might not do what you want, but generally the little errors are forgivable. You certainly won’t see them heading to stand outdoors looking at a wall while they get peppered with a grenade from the rear. Enemy AI isn’t quite as good however with some of the enemy standing emotionless at their key positions, even when explosions and gun fire go off in their vicinity.
The AI isn’t perfect however, some people who like the NPC’s to be more proactive, might find the hand holding to be slightly intrusive. Micromanagement is the order of the day and while it worked well for me, colleagues weren’t so enamored with the system.
Those who prefer human interaction will be happy to hear that there is a cooperative mode available which makes for a more reactive and interactive experience. Don’t get me wrong, the single player campaign is a blast, but multiplayer is where I got most of the fun from. I played the game for 12 hours before I beat the campaign so it also offers reasonably good value for money.
Realistically, the game knows that soldiers can’t take 150 bullets before they get hurt. If you get shot in the head then you are likely to be killed, immediately. Other, lesser shots will require some medical attention and reviving from team mates. A quick patch up and you are back on your way. This is a deliberate game decision from the developers to stop the ‘gung ho’ charging into the fray that often plague many first person shooters. If you run into the open brandishing a machine gun, you will generally last only a few seconds before a sharpshooter hits one of your critical organs.
I like the slower paced design, and as this is a tactical squad based shooter it all gels very well. Those who like fast paced titles such as Serious Sam, will find this too pedestrian for their tastes. Those who are currently sitting on the fence, unsure of whether to risk a purchase, I would advise to part with the money. It does offer a rewarding experience and the overall concept works exceptionally well. Just be prepared to micromanage a team of foul mouthed squaddies in single player mode.