Operation Flashpoint: Red River First Impressions

Codemasters is promising to improve Operation Flashpoint across the board in Red River, as we found out on a visit to the studio.

Last year's Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising was a success for publisher Codemasters. Released in a busy end-of-year period, it still managed to score a number two position in the UK charts. Now, the same team is back with Red River, which is currently halfway through development and being prepped for release on the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 in 2011. Though it will still be a faithfully realistic shooter, the team in Leamington Spa, UK, is taking a slightly new direction with this entry in the series by applying a cool new visual aesthetic to the game while aiming to make it more accessible. We found out how it is all coming together on a recent trip to see the studio, meet the talent behind the game, and check it out in action.

Our session started with Red River's creative director Sion Lenton laying out his plans for the game. "We want to offer a personalised vision of conflict," he said, before demonstrating his vision by showing clips from The Hurt Locker, Generation Kill, and Jarhead. Lenton, who also worked on Dragon Rising, is keen to reinterpret the word "realism" with this game, moving from the clinical sterility of what you'd see in a Jane's manual to the dusty, broken-down reality of the modern battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. This means that guns, vehicles, and clothing in the game have been modified by the soldiers, who are fighting against the degradation of their equipment caused by the environment. Magazine clips will have tape wrapped around them, vehicles will have posters of girls adorning their walls, and vests will be modified to carry iPods and other consumer electronics devices.

Dragon Rising's fictional open world of Skira was a technical accomplishment, but this time around, Lenton and his team are placing the theatre of war in a more realistic light. First of all, it's a real location in the form of Tajikistan--a country in Central Asia close to China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. As with other Operation Flashpoint games, Red River will take place in the not-too-distant future, with a number of Afghani insurgents having made their way into the country. The US moves its forces in to try to control the problem, but with the conflict happening on its doorstep, the Chinese People's Liberation Army begins to take notice. You once again play as an American soldier caught up in the conflict, and the single-player campaign will focus on three acts that see you first entering the country and holding the insurgents, "getting your arse kicked," according to Lenton, and then launching a counterattack that "levels Tajikistan to the ground."

The location itself may only be about the same physical size as Skira was in Dragon Rising, but it promises to be much more varied in terms of scenery. The country declared independence from the Soviet Union in the early '90s, but much of the architecture remains, giving the buildings a striking look against the dusty desert backdrops. The country is also surrounded by huge mountains, making an imposing background, with some of them snow capped as well. "Our engine loves this kind of s***," boasts Linton, giving a nod to Codemasters' own in-house Ego engine that's powering the game.

The entire campaign will be playable cooperatively, with each player able to pick one of four classes. The rifleman has a tool for every job and acts as the best all-rounder of the group. The grenadier was described as a "brick s*** house" who carries the first shotgun seen in an Operation Flashpoint game. The scout is able to pick off targets with his long-range weaponry. The auto rifleman is able to support the other classes by laying down suppressive fire. All four players can theoretically play as the same character class, too, and though that might not make for the most balanced team, it means you're not forced to perform a specific role.

These concept renders show the new location, Tajikistan, and the gritty look Codemasters is aiming for.

Our time at the studio also allowed us to see additions that individual departments have made to the game. The visual aesthetic that's being applied to Red River is particularly interesting, in that the team is looking to re-create modern warfare as captured by the people on the ground and then consumed by people back home through platforms, such as YouTube. This has resulted in menu screens that will have intentional visual artefacts, such as hot pixels and lens aberrations, while close proximity explosions will damage the picture--almost as if they've ripped a cable out of the back of your TV. It doesn't appear as if Codemasters is going to go as far as Io Interactive has with Kane & Lynch 2, but Lenton admits, "we want it to look glitchy."

On the multiplayer side, Lenton wants to expand on what the team achieved in Dragon Rising and include as many different modes as possible. He talked about a defensive mode called Last Stand, as well as Combat Sweep, where you and your team have to flush out all enemies from a defensive location. There will also be a Convoy mode where you have to escort a moving target, as well as simple Search & Rescue. Rather than reusing locations from the single-player game, the multiplayer will have its own dedicated area of Tajikistan in the bottom right of the map. The progression, however, will be consistent between single-player and multiplayer, meaning you can always be earning XPs to upgrade your soldier.

The Operation Flashpoint series has made a name for itself as one of the most realistic on the market, and Red River promises to be the most brutal game in the series yet. One big improvement has to do with the human-damage model. We were shown a technical demonstration of wounds that can be applied to soldiers. They can have separate parts of their bodies blown off, with the flesh becoming charred right down to the bone. Thankfully, the team is also aiming to make this the most accessible Flashpoint ever, with a new command tree system that groups orders by type and is context sensitive depending on where you're looking. So, if you're aiming at a target you want to attack, it should be easier than ever to tell your teammates exactly what you want them to do.

It's still relatively early for Red River, but already, it's looking like an improvement on last year's game. The development team employs what it calls an "agile sprint" development system, which means that art assets are regularly delivered from a dedicated team in Kuala Lumpur and builds can improve dramatically in the space of a few short weeks. The game is currently scheduled for release in 2011 on the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, and we'll hopefully be able to bring you an updated look in the run-up to its release.

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177 comments
StickmanRyan
StickmanRyan

Man I'm pumped for Red River. OFPDR is one of the hardest games I've played and one of the only games to actually give me an adrenaline rush. Having to actually work out a solution to a mission rather than simply follow a script is an extremely awarding experience and one that I hope more shooters have in the future. I think what gamers have to realise is that simulators (well as close as a simulator can get on a console) such as this are different to current fps of today such as COD and Battlefields and shouldn't be compared in the same category. Its like comparing gran turismo to need for speed. Sim fans are going to obviously prefer GT for its realism whilst those after over the top speed and handling are going to prefer NFS. Its a matter of taste so don't bag this series out because of it being closer to realism/ less story line. Stick to your prefered genre instead.

nyran125
nyran125

I havent played Operation flashpoint yet, but im about too. Im a huge fan of Arma 2. That and operation arrowhead with expansion packs are unbelieavable. They are awesome. But obviously they are PC only and im not expecting too much out of operation flashpoint dragon rising at all. It will and can never beat Arma 2, doesn tmatter how hard they try. The consoles sepcifications wouldnt allow the content anyway.

darkwarriorz71
darkwarriorz71

Lol gamespot got their facts wrong. I have played all the Operation flashpoint games including the expansions ( I am still playing cold war from 2001 ) and the first shotgun was actually used in the cold war crisis expansion pack operation flashpoint : resistance. In fact if you own this game the charter with the shotgun is the resistance fighter hunter class armed with a kowzlia ( I am not sure how it is spelt ) the gun was a single shot shotgun that could also shoot a buck round. I hope a gamespot member sees this and relizes that they have just been proved wrong by a true OPF fan :)

k1ll8_saurav
k1ll8_saurav

P.S. I can see why OFPDR was bad. ",but Lenton admits, "we want it to look glitchy."

k1ll8_saurav
k1ll8_saurav

Hey guys, stop hating on Codemasters. Sure, OFPDR didn't live up to the hype. Even Bohemia's embarrassed. However, you must realize Codemasters came from racing games (Colin McRae, Formula One, Race Driver) and it's their first couple attempts at military simulation, whereas Bohemia had previous experience (VBS1 & 2). What Codemasters need to do, however, is hire a new developer solely for working on OFP. Funny, how racing games these days are going TOWARDS realism and first person shooters are stepping AWAY from it.

Uberpink
Uberpink

You pessimistic guys, do you want the tight scripted events of COD? where stuff happens all the time? COD is a good game, but this game is different. Have u played with 1 2, or 3 friends and beat the dragon rising game in coop? Have u tried to use your brains to think out a nice tactic on how to approach the mission,instead of holding the commanders hand and di*k down a narrow path like in cod on easy mode with checkpoints? me and my friend played hardest mode on a mission on DR for 1.5 hours then i got a bullet in my head BOOM. restart the fu*king mission. U know what? That is kinda cool and manly. I wet my pants, because this means that we need to play wiser next time. -i SUCKED! But when the kids get this bullet in the head "its because of a stoopid game", not cuz their dumbfvck fault hehehe...OFPDR isnt such a military simulator that many says, but still Its quite real. Maybe the ai is dumb at times, but hey,,, some humans are just dumb. So whats the problem. Cod and ofpdr are two different games, but hey, theyre both damn good! in its own ways. So stop fking up Mr Lenton and Co, and wish them good luck. There is no reason to completely trash their first try even if there were some issues. But please get more heli flying next time. AND A JOYSTICK SUPPORT! apart from that the game is orgasmic. ; The game deserved much better scores. But thats what happens if u dont follow the book of cod gameplay. sad. hope their sequel kick ASS!

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

why are so many people being so pessimistic about this game? i have OFDR and i have very high hopes for this game.

LoneWolf21Bravo
LoneWolf21Bravo

Although ArmA 2 wins hands down in terms of realism, texture detail, terrain detail and pretty much everything else, when I started exploring the mission editor in OFP2, I found that the game has a lot of possibilities that have not been explored by the game developers. Even if all the hyped development videos of DR were a relentless lie, the core game is pretty solid. In ArmA2 the AI work and fight more like individuals and do not cooperate like a fully trained team should, which makes sense, since the OpFor are mostly insurgents. The AI in DR are pretty stupid on their own, but in teams they perform very potently and the reason why they may be laying down suppressing fire on you through smoke and other obstructions, is because one of enemy soldiers has seen you and "reported" your position to his buddies. Having a pretty good knowledge of infantry tactics, I can assure you that the DR AIs are much more effective as teams, and I think that was the goal of the developers, even though the campaign designers screwed up and didn't include any of the engine's cool features in the DR campaign. Also, Murphy's Law states that professionals are predictable, but the world is full of amateurs -- this is why DR's gameplay is so repetitive -- its AI use military tactics all the time, instead of taking initiative and acting sporadically, as they do in ArmA 2.

LoneWolf21Bravo
LoneWolf21Bravo

BUT, it takes too much damage to kill you, the enemies can't shoot, you're an expert marksman even on full auto, you can see tracers even from rifles, and REAL GUNS DO NOT PRODUCE A HUGE MUZZLE FLASH! Enemies are too easy to spot, navigating the map is absolutely redundant, making OFP:DR very much inferior as a simulator to ArmA2.

BimC
BimC

Based on the comments, its must be hard for the developers to keep their optimism. They have to realize that the market doesn't share their optimism, based on their last failure. They failed. Tsk tsk tsk.

Rx_Nightmare
Rx_Nightmare

Kicking my @&$ in Co-Op? Team Killing son of a %#!&@ Going by how chopped and screwed Dragon Rising was I doubt this game will deliver. This is what happens when you put publishers at the helm and this is also why I'm sticking to ArmA, you know, that game that was made by the people who DEVELOPED the original OFP. Even BI was embarassed by Dragon Rising claiming that Codemasters shouldnt use the OFP name on it.

ParaBellum71
ParaBellum71

Codemasters can suck my **** if they think I will purchase their products, let alone restrain myself from assualting a developer of theirs. Merley sticking the name Operation Flashpoint on their last product was slimey enough. But to state that it had a mission editor on the back of the PC box? Then to find out even if you did make a map, export the file, and get hundreds of others to download it.... that you could only play a mission in a defined 1 sq. kilometer area? Oh and your "agile sprint" developement is a ****ing joke. No skilled or respected team would purposefully rush unless forced by corporate, or they knew they had a completley broken item that had too many dollars plugged into it from too many people. **** yourselves in the deepest ****ing way. Die hard codemaster yuppie scum!

NoX5
NoX5

I agree with the people who posted on the "DO NOT FOLLOW OR BUY THIS GAME". I have made a vow to myself and to everyone else out there who fell victim to these liars. Dragon rising was a complete and utter rip off of a game and not just your average rip off where you think a game might be on the border of good or bad. This game had so many promises and FALSE dev diary backups that it was like stealing money off of anyone who bought the game. I have been banned from all of their forums because they don't like anoyne to hear the truth about how slimey of a company they are. So YOU ALL HAVE BEEN FAIRLY WARNED!!!!!. DO NOT EVEN TAKE A SECOND LOOK AT THIS GAME.. as it will be hyped to hell and have none of the content they hype in the final version.

bad_trip2
bad_trip2

so much agree with mark just below me

mark_webster_87
mark_webster_87

Less bugs, no forced unrealistic time limit, doing everything yourself despie being in a army and the ability to actually explore the terrain and we have a deal codemasters...OP 2 was such a dissapointment.

ajai019er
ajai019er

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

BimC
BimC

@uberjannie I agree. But in case you want a realistic war simulator go get ARMA 2 Operation Arrowhead

BimC
BimC

@neonblueshadow I agree. But in case you want a realistic war simulator go get ARMA 2 Operation Arrowhead

diggyman
diggyman

I don't get it. What's wrong with Codemasters' game testers and feedback personnel? The graphics were the least of DR's problems... How about the enemy apparently having x-ray-thermal-nightvision built into their eyes? How about the fact that weapon/item select and posture switching is unfairly slow and clunky? I think there's a forced belief that 'Sim' games have to have characters who are slow and robotic. I'm not saying make them unrealisticly fast, but make them normal, and more fluid in motion. C'mon CODEMASTERS! Step up your code.

Yidman01
Yidman01

I really enjoyed the first game, except for the really long walks between sections and the complete lack of save points on the hardest setting which meant replaying 45 mins of game play if you died near the end of a level. This didn't make the game harder, just damn annoying!

jjarvis92
jjarvis92

Look at the images... The first one, at this time, is of a scrawny gunner holding a M240. LOL! I'm not saying that it can't happen in real life. I'm saying that it's not practical. LOL!

jjarvis92
jjarvis92

One more thing... a few posters on this thread have stated that the game "looks good" so far. LOL! All media so far are drawings and not in game screenshots.

jjarvis92
jjarvis92

Please look up OFP: DR on this and other gaming sites before you play Dragon Rising. Read and watch all of their pre-release content. Purchase or rent a copy of Dragon Rising and finish the SP missions (it won't take long). Try and connect online and play a MP game. The proof is in the pudding on how Codemasters OFP team overhypes and lies about their games. P.S. The AI can see and kill you through smoke, trees, landscape & even buildings.

TK3D
TK3D

yay!,another bomb 'istan to the stone age game! i mean cone on,this isn't original at all.I'd rather go for Full Spectrum Warrior which has a similar storyline excluding china

Dazza102
Dazza102

Or we could not play this game and instead play Arma2 OA which IMO will be far superior to anything Codemasters can dish up. Trust the actual developers of Operation Flashpoint to deliver a good game. Bohemia Interactive ftw.

Smiley451
Smiley451

They need to release the game bug-free; that's what killed Dragon Rising. And from what it looks like, they're trying to make an authentic game without being brutally realistic (brutal meaning that it's just too hard to have fun). As long as there is a heavy focus on multiplayer and VERY few bugs, this will work just fine for me. If they want to make their money spent on the singleplayer/cop-op pay off then they need really good AI.

angrysquirrel
angrysquirrel

looks like this game is going to seriously stink. If I want dumbed down shooters, there's are plenty to choose from. Notice how the guys say alot in this video without saying anything of substance? That is a dead giveaway this game is going to be a dumbed down buggy shooter. Maybe a 12 YO might like it, but he's not going to punk down $60 to buy it. Go back to your roots and make a sim shooter like original OFP. Fix the friggin AI instead of releasing this bloatware.

Fubydoo
Fubydoo

Looking forward to Red River.. someplace between COD series and the ArmaII series is what i am looking for.. Operation Flash Point Dragon Rising came close, this should do it! oh btw, you kick their arse in Coop by killing alot more guys.. And remember what sion said..it's not a sim..its a tactical GAME! Good Luck Codemasters, I will have it pre-ordered along with my DiRT3.

pelvist
pelvist

Nice... but I dont believe anything Sion Lenton says. BTW how do you kick someones ass in COOP?

johnchandos
johnchandos

I played OF2:DR on the XBox 360 and it was the biggest rip off considering how horribly unfinished and buggy the game was. There is no way in hell I'm giving Codesuckers my money again. BUYERS BEWARE!!!

Taffelost
Taffelost

What I don't understand is why they're dumbing down every military shooter on the market. Patience isn't a virtue in the modern shooter. Everything is about instant neverending action. You're killing thousands of enemies in every mission. Why not try to do something different than the other 1783 shooters that get released every month. Get back to basic already. Forget about the flashy futuristic weaponry, unrealistic characters and rambo-mode. I miss the original Rainbow Six and Operation Flashpoint games. The modern sequels are boring, dumbed down and brainless in comparison.

iluminat23
iluminat23

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

MWplaYer
MWplaYer

Dr was a hell to play, so i pass

Bjorgo
Bjorgo

If you want a mil sim, get ARMA 2. if you want rubbish, get this

spOOoOOn
spOOoOOn

You gotta be joking... compared to the original OF2 was an arcade shooter. Anyway, kinda rediculous they don't mention improving AI just once.

xxxxTRISTAMxxxx
xxxxTRISTAMxxxx

I hated the last one...it isn't a video game but a military simulation...I will pass for sure!

CyanMoon
CyanMoon

I don't want it like MW2 either, far from it, that's why I was so into the game to start with. But to be a SIM it needs to be realistic, they promoted it that way, yet when it was released there wasn't much that matched the long list they reeled off to start with. I loved Operation Flashpoint, I even played Dragon Rising for a couple of months, but in the end the frustration got the better of me, it was just broken and not a simulation, it was more about nursing your squad to not make any mistakes. Its going to need a VAST improvement to be successful.

uberjannie
uberjannie

@taosphil : what about me and others who did serve but want to re-experience combat in a video game. War is though, you get shot you die. For me, the balance between life and death is what I want in a war sim. Not some bad ass non realistic shooter like Modern Warfare.

CyanMoon
CyanMoon

There is no way on earth I would buy this game. I bought Dragon Rising on release and followed it for some time running up to that, I tried so hard to like it, but it was just dam horrible. The patches fixed a couple of things, but frankly the game was still broken, AI was rubbish and had a mind of its own with suicide squad members, online half the time it doesnt connect, AI has super human eye sight at times and others it cant hit a barn door, oh yeah it wouldnt save the game half the time so you would spend a frustrating hour or so doing a mission to then have to redo it for no reason at all. Half the stuff the so called creative director bragged on about on the pre release stuff wasnt even in the game aswell, by creative I think he means makes stuff up, I listened to him 1st time round but not this time, he wants to know what kind of creature he created, well it was a crap one mate, that robbed alot of us out of 40quid. Biggest waste of money for a game I have ever forked out for. Steer clear if I were you, because the game will not match the words these people in the videos tell you about thats for sure.

titus30075
titus30075

Stop making expansions to broken games. I can not believed I wanted 7 years for OP2. Yes, I loved the first one so much I couldn't wait for second part before I knew there was gonna be a part 2.

Wolfseven
Wolfseven

One thing I think they need to make work, is the Track ir for the soldier; that's what I think is the most important. Along with the other bugs that made it usless to play. I mean I played it one day and that was it, it was to unfinished to me.

Gammet25
Gammet25

Im not very convinced with Dragon Rising on PC being a total letdown.

neonblueshadow
neonblueshadow

OF is made for people who want a more hardcore mil sim, not the casual gamer, if you want a casual FPS you have lots of choices already. As for how the game was spun, thats just marketing. Keep in mind that games are very easy today and get easier by the week, its done so they are more fun in general, but consider that next time you find a game that feels too hard, maybe you're just too used to softer things. Lastly @taosphil There is a sizeable niche that likes realistic sims, w/o joining the army ( for abvious reasons), and there are nearly no games such as this anymore b/c the niche isn't large enough to be marketable for most big publishers. ( which is why ace combat is so arcadie) This is the niche Cm is targetting

Captain_Tom
Captain_Tom

Just give me a functional save system and I'll be happy.

taosphil
taosphil

If I wanted something realistic, I'd join the Army - what us gamers want is to spend our hard earned money on a game that is FUN to Play, period ! ! Please listen to these comments and you will make your $60 bucks over and over again.

mkreku
mkreku

I bought Dragon Rising on Steam. What a pile of crap! It looked so good in the trailers too, what happened?

alex_towli32123
alex_towli32123

Looking forward to conning you out of your money with a product different to what was advertised in 2011 - ConMasters

LuckyPierre1441
LuckyPierre1441

OF got two things right. one, the engine runs and scales well. and two, the control and aiming worked better than it's competitor. that's it. Arma 2 is at least twice as good as OF. the developers don't know what the fans of the franchise want.

sleepnsurf
sleepnsurf

DR is the worst game I have ever rented.