Operation Flashpoint: Red River

Operation Flashpoint: Red River Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3PC

Taking a small step into the future, Red River depicts a fictional conflict with contemporary geopolitical themes.

Review Verdict Read Review
7Out of 10
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Operation Flashpoint: Red River screenshot
Operation Flashpoint: Red River screenshot

For all the hoo-ha about switching Operation Flashpoint to a more action-orientated position in its third iteration - the looming spectre of Modern Warfare's success perhaps a little bit too much for Codemasters to resist - I still found myself face-down in a puddle of my own blood within six minutes of starting the game. Seriously, who could have guessed bullets were so dangerous.

Realism is a word often bandied about in the games industry without any genuine consideration to what it means. Is Operation Flashpoint: Red River realistic? No, because no matter how many times you get shot in the chest you can, provided you're still clinging to life, recover by waving a closed medikit around in front of you for fifteen seconds.

Compared to Call of Duty and its ilk, however, Red River presents a fairly authentic portrayal of a contemporary middle-eastern conflict, albeit one where you spend the second half of the game knocking back wave upon wave of Chinese soldiers. Bullets drop the further they're asked to travel, enemies crumple to the ground after being shot once, and the wide-open expanse of natural geography is not precisely coordinated for maximum set-piece potential.

So while the new Operation Flashpoint forks further away from its simulation origins set by former developer Bohemia Interactive, Red River still forces you to cling to life because of the inherent frustrations of going back to a faraway checkpoint and trawling through the same content multiple times. You fear for your survival because bullets are dangerous, your virtual life is delicate, and failure will probably mean slowly traipsing across another few hundred metres of terrain.

While the game has sacrificed the pursuit of realism in its combat, Codemasters has made a renewed effort to capture a sense of atmosphere from contemporary war media. Compared to the showroom-fresh sheen of their Dragon Rising iterations, for instance, vehicles have been dirtied and adorned with pin-up girls - get in a Humvee and it now feels like the machine has seen plenty of action in harsh environments. You can also notice this in the script, with exquisitely-produced mission briefing sequences and a Staff Sergeant that barks orders in-between relentless streams of swearing and racial epithets. If you don't want to hear the Chinese negatively associated with their cuisine, you won't like listening to this.

The 10-level campaign has you originally chasing terrorist insurgents in Tajikstan, a country sandwiched between Afghanistan and China. The early campaign is chock-full of the types of current military operations you'll expect - IEDs, sweeping through buildings, calling down airstrikes and the like. One early event has an allied transport blown to smithereens mere inches away from your gruff Staff Sergeant, but both the script and animations barely register the incident on his face. The game might be doing its best to evoke the atmosphere of Jarhead and The Hurt Locker, but Red River isn't running on an engine that can adequately convey the weight of the situation. It's also particularly jarring when buildings and terrain appear as pixelated lumps through your sniper scope, though draw distances are impressively vast.

Enemy AI also falls flat on numerous occasions, too, notably in the second half of the game when you're up against the Chinese army. Far too many encounters at this point are simply enemy squads rushing you without any consideration for their own survival, and you simply perch behind a spot of nearby cover and take pot-shots until a checkpoint reached message pops up in the corner of the screen. A flimsy suppression mechanic does little to the overall gameplay rhythm, and the sense of authenticity is lost when you've knocked off three quarters of an enemy squad and the remaining troops are still standing around while you line up another shot.

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User Comments

Gollum_85's Avatar


Posted 21:36 on 25 May 2011
Thel-Win-Man's Avatar


Nice review Martin, was this wise to chooose this over Brink?
Posted 20:43 on 17 May 2011
squidman's Avatar

squidman@ renegade

Codemasters made its intentions clear as the game was being produced - one of the nuggets of information it revealed during development was that the word 'simulation' was banned. They were very open that they were looking to attract an less devoted military shooter audience, an audience that previous games would not be able to appeal to on account of the games being too complicated.

The problem - and the reason I flagged it as a negative - is that I don't think they've got their balance right. While the game loses a lot of the series' former complications (for better or worse) it is still too fiddly to appeal to the audience they were trying to tailor it towards. As a result it kind of feels like it's stuck in the middle between what the series was and what they're trying to make it.
Posted 15:17 on 27 April 2011
El-Dev's Avatar


I really think they were quite close to getting this game so right, but a 7 seems fair from what I've played so far.
Posted 13:58 on 27 April 2011

renegade@ Wido

Oh yeh I get that, but I dont want to say its because CoD breast feeds everyone the dull FPS lol
Posted 13:33 on 27 April 2011
Wido's Avatar


Good read Martin and completely what I felt also. The game is brilliant in co-op but just lacks enthusiasm to really take it up a notch as it does have the right ingredients, but once again Codemasters just falling short, so this line completely sums up OF:RR "Close but no cigar."

@Renegade - Seeing as most FPS fans are Call Of Duty players, they will look at other military presence games such as Red River and compare it instantly. Casual shooters = CoD players and many other titles, as there is no tactical gameplay mechanics to make the experience enticing. Red River is more Arma, Battlefield and Rainbow Six territory than anything else.

Red River + Dragon Rising, the predecessor of this game, isn't a Rambo flick, bursting your way through a heavy machine gun and firing a RPG rocket or two to hit the insurgents and also the PLA in Red River's case. You got to use your team to really get the advantage of the battlefield and to succeed in the game, but the difficulty settings make up for that. As I personally found the game to be quite easy through normal than I expected but I did encounter some "oh you bloody whine!" moments due to idiocy of rushing in.

Maybe that's why it got a negative for casual shooters? Red River shouldn't even be considered as a comparable item to the likes of Call Of Duty.
Posted 12:39 on 27 April 2011


Too difficult for casual shooter fans.

How is that a negative. Its too hard?
Posted 11:57 on 27 April 2011
dazzadavie's Avatar


Never did plan the first but I might pick this up on tIe cheap too.

Good review Mr Gaston
Posted 10:23 on 27 April 2011
xboxlive's Avatar


Will pick this game up when i see it cheap,but i loved the frist one.
Posted 09:46 on 27 April 2011

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Operation Flashpoint: Red River
Out of 10
Operation Flashpoint: Red River
  • Excellent in co-op
  • Shooting is intense
  • Campaign is weak at the start
  • Too difficult for casual shooter fans
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 21/04/2011
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Genre: Action
No. Players: 1-4
Rating: BBFC 15
Site Rank: 7,828 142
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