Operation Flashpoint: Red River Preview

We strap on our boots, defend some turf, and decide when it's time to bug out in our hands-on preview of Operation Flashpoint: Red River.

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While 2009's Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising was praised for its realism and tension on the battlefield, the game's AI floundered when it came time to pull the trigger. Learning from its mistakes, series developer Codemasters has taken things back to the drawing board, pushing aside the idea of creating military simulators and fixing its gunsights on making realistic, but still accessible, squad-based shooters.

For those of you who haven't been following the game through its development, the title is set two years in the future in a fictional conflict taking place in Tajikistan. During the demo, our guides pointed out that while the scene is set in a real location, the team deliberately avoided tapping any current, real-world conflicts, learning some healthy lessons from the controversy surrounding the recent Medal of Honor reboot.

There's no room for a lone wolf in a four-man squad.

Red River has been built from the ground up with teamwork in mind, by putting you in the mindset of the soldiers the game attempts to emulate. Whether you're playing offline in single-player mode with an AI squad, via system link with friends, or online, you play the part of one member of a four-man team. Four classes are available--rifleman, scout, grenadier, and auto rifleman--and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Riflemen act as the generic soldier, capable of holding their own in most circumstances; scouts keep their hands clean, working best at long ranges and using high-powered rifles to pick off enemies; grenadiers are bulky soldiers who tend to favour heavy weapons; and auto riflemen play a support role, frequently providing covering fire while other members of the squad scramble to better locations to gain a tactical advantage on the battlefield.

Completing missions rewards you and your team with gold, silver, and bronze medals depending on your deftness at objectives. As the old adage goes, there's no "I" in team, but your squad can stay alive and respawn as long as one soldier remains alive. Military shooter buffs after a greater challenge can take on Hardcore mode, where each life hangs in the balance, with any friendly player killed in action requiring you to restart a mission from scratch.

Rather than force each player to accept a role and stick with it, Red River lets you mix and match class dynamics and gear to suit your play style. A wide variety of weapon proficiencies to conquer and guns to fire means that you shouldn't ever feel tied to a single gear loadout. Also, as you play through the campaign, experience points earned taking down bad guys can be spent on more deadly tools of the trade. These include more advanced weapon scopes (anyone for thermal?) and perks that improve your reload speed, as well as shot accuracy.

We had a chance to check out two different game modes during our play. The first was a four-player cooperative mission, where we needed to escort a Humvee convoy to the nearby Nurek dam to protect key infrastructure from damage. The other was the game's Last Stand mode in the Fireteam Engagement stand-alone missions, where our job was to defend our hilltop location against increasingly larger groups of armed attackers.

Our co-op mission, The Human Terrain, revolved around moving to and securing marked points as they were called by our squad's commander. As we dodged in and out of small towns, ducked behind low-standing walls, and ran across unsealed roads, we faced a mixture of snipers and militia. While most combat situations begin when shots are fired, at one point we were given notice about an approaching suspicious vehicle. The preparation time gave us a chance to discuss the most suitable strategy and form a defensive line. As the truck came tearing through the dirt, we were able to shoot the driver before finishing off the remaining occupants.

Bet you a pack of smokes you can't shoot that leftover meat in the mess hall from here.

As anyone who has seen TV shows like Generation Kill or modern war documentaries will tell you, music is a big part of battle. Drawing on the above influences, Red River includes a licensed metal soundtrack with artists including Drowning Pool, Pantera, and Megadeth. The game wears its inspirations on its sleeve, and the crude but brotherly banter that goes on between the members of the squad further rams home the camaraderie of the unit.

Last Stand mode is part of the Fireteam Engagement portion of the game and serves as missions built solely for play outside of the campaign. The directive is to survive as long as possible against increasingly difficult waves of enemies. Targets spawned on only one side of the mountain outpost we were defending, so with the exception of restocking ammunition between rounds, there was no need for us to fight on more than one front. Scouts were particularly useful to take down bad dudes as they dropped in by air, giving us the chance to pick them off before they could take up a fortified position. The big selling point of Last Stand is that you can bug out anytime you feel the battle has turned bad by calling for an evacuation. However, you need to survive and get to an extraction point to do so, adding strategy to knowing when to pull the pin and go.

Wannabe trench warriors don't need to wait much longer, with Operation Flashpoint: Red River firing its first salvo when it hits shelves for the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on April 21 in Australia. Want to see more? Be sure to check out this week's episode of Crosshairs for our video interview with the development team.

Discussion

24 comments
nikhilprim
nikhilprim

Am really looking forward to this game. Waiting for the gamespot guys to review the game.Might buy it if its good

jin-ro
jin-ro

Christ !!!!! Guys It's just a game ,and u have to enjoy it ,want realism go to army ..... plenty real s#@t there

isnot-important
isnot-important

trecenters - You are so dellusional it's simply not funny. Red River (don't call it Flashpoint, that's an insult..) has NO tactics, it is far from realistic and it's whole purpose is to trick the player into thinking they are playing a game better than CoD (which seems to have worked on you..) when in fact it is just as simple and lacking in the realism department. No health regen? Maybe so, but what do you call those animation-free medpacks which you simply hold a button to heal yourself with? Hardly realistic when you can heal your own head wound/crippled leg in just a couple of seconds. No running in the open? Utter nonsense, the majority of the gameplay vids i've seen show the player running around like any other arcade-FPS game out there. This is NOT anywhere close to realistic, OFP CWC for console (OFP: Elite) does much, much more than this game ever could, or this franchise ever will..and it's over 5 years old. Stop praising these unimaginative simpletons who are selling you crap. Even Sion (CM Village Idiot) Lenton has stated that if you want realism, play ARMA 2. The true successor to the OFP franchise. I have two more words for you - Dispersion shield.

smunch3
smunch3

How realistic is a game without a knife attack? Ask a soldier what he uses his knife for if he carries it. If you have to pull out your knife, you are already dead.... Unless you use it to open your MRE....

kmconstable
kmconstable

It's good to see Codemasters have settled on the core gameplay this time. I loved OFDR, but they did tell the PC community they would give dedicated servers, etc. only to renig. Not Cool! Still the core of that game was the coop as the online play was garbage anyway. I hope they allow the community to make maps like they did with OFDR. That would be very nice indeed.

icecoldkilla78
icecoldkilla78

@trecenters so there isn't a knife attack on his game? How realistic is that?

SgtDeathrax
SgtDeathrax

I think this game can do more with Tactics. Like OFP cold war crisis. Let us roam free in this game. Fix the Aircraft controls like Over-G fighters(more User friendly), Ditch the sound track, Boost the Ambient sounds. Have enemy on more patrols. have civilians fleeing for their lives when a fire fight breaks out. when your team mate gets wounded you drag him to cover and patch him up. Be able to drive a variety of vehicles so you and your buddies can jump into a civilian car and drive with the traffic into the enemy area undetected. Have all structure's destroyable to a certain extent. So if you have a battle at a town or city the once beautiful town or city will look like a war zone when you finished with it. Have wild animals/birds when you in the bush/jungle. And if you talk or walk to loud while the enemy is in hearing range they can hear you. Well that would be wishful thinking. who would ever make a proper tactical realistic shooter! Only VBS Virtual Battle Space, A training sim for real soldiers. Look it up! http://youtu.be/KgVU8WljP1k

trecenters
trecenters

If you think this is a Generic shooter or are going to compare this to COD or BF series then you are really not that bright on the subject of FPS games. You probably use words like Camper A LOT. COD is mostly run and run all over the map the past few releases. No tactics. Especially with the easy button "knife" at disposal. BF series has tactics as far as squad play and coordinating a team if it is a clan match. Yet it still has a lot of the run and gun features. At least in BF series you don't have to keep moving at all times worried about someone lunging at you around a corner with thier easy button. OF... takes tactics to another level.. If you like to run and gun then you will hate this game. If you don't have smarts to think of tactics other then running at someone hip firing then you will hate this game also. This game is the most realistic military game for 360. Not sure about PC yet. No health regain unless a medic pays you a visit. No running in the open unless you want to die quick. Also no easy button. Whoever wants to call this series generic is probably on the commercial bandwagon playing run and gun with his buddies. Getting mad when he dies and puts on the lightweight and the super easy button perk and goes charging back to the last known location. LOL U MAD BRO?

SgtDeathrax
SgtDeathrax

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

SgtDeathrax
SgtDeathrax

Are they still insisting on that Yellow circle around your squad that prevents any real tactical maneuvers? That if you fall out of the Yellow circle your dead! A stupid idea from halfwits that make games. If your squad leader sends you on a lone mission half way across the map to pick up a vehicle, and meet up with them at a certain location. That your squad leader easily marks on everyone's map, then so be it! If that's not going to happen this is far from being a tactical shooter and fails on realism! Well then they can shove this game up red river's ass!

Uberfinn
Uberfinn

Man, I'm sorry but this just looks so low budget compared to Battlefield 3. Even the way the characters move. Running 3 quarters sideways and no head bob at all. Then watch Battlefield 3 and see how the unit acts and how the guys move together, and look so realistic. Say what you want about tactics, but if Battlefield 3 has any of the tactical stuff that MOH had, then it's going to blow this out of the water. Sad, because I used to love Operation Flashpoint.

markdshark
markdshark

i hope its good, because this game has so much potential

umster
umster

@dallasanderson1 dude i honestly hope i am wrong, the way i see it is the more good games that come out the more fun for all us guys. and i gotta admit i did enjoy the last Flashpoint game to a certain degree. wait n see

dallasanderson1
dallasanderson1

@umster i would have to disagree with you mate, and i think you will be pleasantly surprised when this comes out.

dallasanderson1
dallasanderson1

well for me if i was out in the field, stalking an enemy, i dont think i would have my ipod blasting some heavy crap out. infact i dont think i would even bring it along, how about putting lots of effort into the ambiance noises and leave the music, i turn it off anyway

herodotus2006
herodotus2006

I have played all "OF", including "Dragon Rising" and both "ArmA" titles and have enjoyed all for different reasons. I look forward to what Codemasters bring to the table with this title. @DAMSOG Your avatar made me brush my monitor screen, as it is still early dawn here and rather dark:)

umster
umster

Has anyone else noticed this game is so average there is absolutly no hype for it at all. I suppose on top of that releasing it at the same time as other bigger and better fps's was a bad move.

DAMSOG
DAMSOG

heavy metal soundtrack.....oh no....what are they thinking? Hey lets put in some killer tunes and then maybe they wont notice the stodgy gameplay....lets hope they addressed the problems of the first instead of simply trying to "hip" it up for the kiddies!

organbank
organbank

Wow this just keeps getting better and better. A generic review about yet another generic shooter. AWESOME!

BravoOneActual
BravoOneActual

Fans of first person shooters and misguided haters of Dragon Rising: Ignore this game at your own risk.

muzza93
muzza93

Looks so awesome! liked the first one, but this just looks so much better, hopefully the game has some Motley Crue in it for music, that Last Stand mode actually sounds great, i hope i can get all the money together for this, i really want Duke Nukem, Sniper: Ghost Warrior and this, and they all come out in April, I can only buy 1, :(

for2100
for2100

i cant wait but unfortunately cod will still be more popular theres too many idiots out there for this awesome game to beat it

CoryHM
CoryHM

I can not wait for this game. It will rip up Cod!