Set in the near future Codemasters returns to their “Flashpoint” series to tell another tale of global conflict. However, this time around things are different as a brand new “cinematic” styled Operation heads into the battlefield.

For those who haven't played a 'Operation Flashpoint' title in the past, it's a finicky series that takes a little bit of patience and dedication to get rolling. It's one of those “if you stick with it, it's rewarding” type of games. However, 'Red River' switches things up by balancing the core “hyper-realistic” styled gameplay with a more “cinematic” approach to storytelling so you can get to the reward quicker. The result, a topnotch alagamation of the old with a new contemparty twist. While this new direction could alienate some of their hardcore crowd, I found the new focus to be a good change that should attract a wider audience.

Taking control of 'Outlaw-2-Bravo,' a US Marine Corp fireteam, you will be sent in to deal with an unfortunate fictional conflict. Interjected into Tajikistan (border of China and Afghanistan,) you will be in for a guerrilla war in an unfamiliar land. Themes of geopolitical conflicts unfold into a day-to-day structure that helps draw the player into the narratives urgency. The focused, yet freeing narrative keeps the action grounded closer to a lifelike setting then most other war shooters. However, before you think 'Red River' is mundane Army sim, its not. The realistic touch in the locations, firefight mechanics and scenarios create an atmosphere that is both tactically interesting and nail-bitting tense.

Prepare For Battle
Heading into the missions you will have plenty of time to prep before the plotting and movements start. Depending on your level of commitment, you can jump past all the prep work and head straight in the game. If you want dig deeper you can jump into the detail briefings and slip into the squad customization to make sure you are more than prepared for the upcoming conflict. Four classes are playable in 'Red River' (rifleman, grenadier, scout and automatic rifleman) all with their own advantages and weapon load-outs, whom gain access to more weapons as you progress.

Additionally, there is a “player progress” section where you can improve the your core skills that fall into the categories of sprint, endurance, battle readiness, assault rifle handling/training and tactical awareness. Points are earned by a bronze, silver, golden medal system that is rewarded after each mission. In total you can earn 54 medals to put into these core skills.

The New Feel
In the missions things can be hectic, although Codemasters does a good job pointing you in the right direction via little red flag markers. The presentation is a little awkward as it tries to bring in a more “cinematic” and “visceral” feel. The approach similar to other esteemed war games, and while it works, it's not anywhere near the level of its competition. I understand why Codemasters would push this approach, but I really miss the bare-bones style of its predecessors; to each his own. Still, for those who found the older games too slow, 'Red River' is the cheetah in the pack. However, if contrasted with a 'Call of Duty' game, 'Red River' would be a snail.

Focus on the Team
The team-based gameplay is covered by semi-competent A.I., a system that needs more input than you might be used to from similar styled war games. As expected tactics are very crucial, and if you're not playing co-op, you have to really stay on-top of the your Marines to make sure they fall into suit. Furthermore, 'Red River' maintains the same “Flashpoint” level of realism you will have to be twice as alert because one bullet in this game can take you out. While there is a patching system, this is not your typical “Modern Warfare.” There is no auto-regeneration. So if you bleed, patch it up, but more importantly, don't get shot. For the real extreme simulation junkies, a hardcore mode is available to test your true skill under fire.

Military Hard Knocks
For presentation, we have a very bare-bones, brash talking approach. This is military hard knocks; the type of game that likes to use a swear word every few minutes just to keep your insult vocabulary on check. Although its a little much, the atmosphere and tension created within the single player campaign is dramatically tense. Every step feels like it could be your last. Beyond the essential jeep ride in each mission, 'Red River' is tightly focused to keep you engaged in the current objective.

Graphically, 'Red River' feels slightly dated, but do a good enough job. “Flashpoint” has never been a leader in this department, so my expectations fell right into line. The audio has much more of a punch than the visuals with a strong (admittingly stereotypical) delvery from the cast. In mission the soundtrack is kept to a minimum and fills the space with the tension filled silence. Out of mission, or in during transport you will occasionally hear some tracks from artists like Pantera, N.E.R.D. and Megadeth.

A Step Forward, A Step Back
Alternatively 'Red River' does not support competitive multiplayer, which is a step backwards. However, a strong co-op aspect to the main campaign and the “Fireteam Engagements” mode helps wipe up some of the tears missing from an all out team deathmatch. In this alternative mode you can hit up the leaderboards in some co-op/ or solo action in several mini-map scenarios including rescuing downed pilots (Csar,) defending against a waves of enemies (Last Stand,) eliminating enemy forces (Combat Sweep,) and protecting a convoy (Rolling Thunder.) While I commend the new “Fireteam” addition, it doesn't take the place of a true multiplayer mode, which sadly will keep 'Red River' from becoming the next big war shooter.

'Operation Flashpoint: Red River' breaks new ground with an enhanced focus and a quicker place. Following the trend set by other popular franchises, 'Red River' bridges the gap that was its predecessors missed. Although the die-hard Flashpoint fans might frown at the new “COD-esq” direction, “Flashpoint” still has its own stamp that is worth investigating.

  • Excellent squad controls with a plethora of options
  • If you're looking for it, Red River has a tighter narrative feel
  • Realism and a tension filled atmosphere is still one of its strong suits
  • Excellent 4 player co-op shooter
  • Get some extra play within the “Fireteam Engagements” modes
  • New “cinematic/visceral” approach isn't nearly as good as its competition
  • Campaign conflicts start to feel recycled
  • Production is slightly dated
  • No competitive multiplayer
Quote: "Following the trend set by other popular franchises 'Red River' bridges the gap that was its predecessors missed."
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 06.13.11

Similar Games: Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (7.6) | Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (9.0)


Operation Flashpoint
Red River




US Release
June 2011


PS3, X360

Players 1
System Link 2-4
Co-op 2-4
HD 720-1080p
5.1 surround
D/L Content