Operation Flashpoint: Red River Review

Insert string of profanity here.

“Blah blah shit blah douche blah bitch.”

I suppose we can’t go very far without recapping a bit of the troubled history of the Operation Flashpoint series. OpFlash was initially developed by Bohemia Interactive Studios, and published by Codemasters. The original OpFlash remains one of the greatest military sims ever created. It was one of the first games to actually have a dynamic battlefield where you really did have a sense of combined arms operations. That helicopter in the sky was actually firing on a real enemy unit and wasn’t scripted much beyond “Move here, attack enemy targets.” It also let you experience the conflict from the perspective of the mud-slogging Rifleman up to an A10 pilot bringing down death from above. It received two expansions; the mediocre Red Hammer and the outstanding Resistance. The game was a hardcore, realistic game that shared more in common with simulators than actual FPS games, and it wasn’t for the COD/BF2 crowd. It was so realistic that BIS even marketed a series of simulators for actual armed forces (spawning the VBS line of products).

SO REAL.

After OpFlash though BIS and Codemasters had a falling out, and BIS went on to make Armed Assault and ARMA2. Armed Assault was fairly flawed, as was ARMA2 on release. Actually all of the games in that lineage are flawed, particularly on release, but they remain the definitive milsim games. If you really want to fight in a dynamic environment where every unit has actual AI behind it, and do everything from drive tanks to play as the gunner in an AH-64, ARMA2 (or at least its stand-alone addon, Operation Arrowhead) are your only real options. BIS have the market cornered on milsims.

Excited yet?

Codemasters went on to make OpFlash: Dragon Rising, hoping to capitalise on the OpFlash name. Initially hopes were high that we’d get a more accessible and refined version of ARMA2; obviously it wasn’t going to be as complex as ARMA2, but we were hoping for better controls or a better optimised engine, perhaps with AI improvements. What we got was a half-arsed game with even more AI issues that shared little in common with the original game. Codemasters are back for another try with Red River. Quite frankly, they probably shouldn’t have bothered.

This game starts off as a mess of console menus and uses this RIDICULOUS “distortion” effect on the menu screen. The opening titles even contain a warning that the game uses this effect, and that you’re not to “adjust your display”. Thanks guys, but why the hell do you feel the need to make the screen glitch like I’m getting a shitty satellite uplink? My first big problem is that the game refuses to work with my G35 headphones. Now Crysis 2 had this problem too, so that makes 2 games which somehow manage to screw this up. Apparently it’s a problem with Logitech’s drivers and not USB audio devices in general, but still this hardware is hardly uncommon, so why is it so hard for them to get this right? No other game manages to screw this up.

I will shoot you now.

The storyline for RR is… actually I barely listened to it. There’s this opening video that goes ON AND ON while these shitty voice actors throw out terms like “motherfucker” and “douche bag”, like a bunch of immature 16 year old Halo 3 players on XBOX Live. Pretty much most of the “voice acting” is like this. It’s an endless stream of “fuck this” and “fuck that”, and I do mean endless. There are stretches where the master sergeant does nothing but talk, and holy shit is it boring. The constant swearing becomes tedious after a while. Before anyone says “LOL UR OFFENDED BY SWEARING LOL GTFO” I’m a nurse and I’ve worked in emergency services for ages, and we swear just as bad as the armed forces. It relieves tension, especially when things are going to shit. But nobody carries on like these guys. It’s so contrived and unnatural, you can almost see someone staring at the script going “We’ve gone a whole sentence without saying ‘douche-bag’, so we’d better put one in.”

So, the story: it gives you a recap of the history of the Cold War (pretty much), even making a terrible joke about “ray gun” and Regan. Oh har, har. Excuse me while I suture my sides together. At one point it flashes “GO AMERICA” while someone yells “It’s your birthday!” because the USSR fell apart. Usually I don’t care about video games going “Yay America!” but in this case it’s absurd and like a slap in the face. It’s juvenile, and it’s ridiculous coming from a game that wants to use the term Operation Flashpoint in its title. Anyway, you’re deployed to Tajikistan, and it’s the year 2013. Huh, what a coincidence, Operation Arrowhead takes place near the middle east, and this one does too. You can choose from one of four classes to play: rifleman, scout, automatic rifleman, and demolitions or something, hell if I remember. There’s no multiplayer beyond co-op, and there’s no mission editor. Laughably the developers say that they wanted to base the game on a “strong narrative”. Ha HA, now that’s a good joke!

Excited yet?

The actual gameplay itself is friggin’ boring and stale. There’s long periods of riding in the back of a Hummer, while the sergeant talks endlessly about all sorts of pointless bullshit. Christ, he never shuts up. Then you get out, shoot at some insurgents, and get back in. And the sergeant talks some more. Yawn. The moving and shooting feels an awful lot like the COD series. This game is pretty much as far away from being a milsim as you can get, and has pretty much nothing in common with the original OpFlash at all. It’s barely even related to Dragon Rising, which at least kept some elements from the original. In Red River you’re stuck as infantry. There are no tanks to drive, and no helicopters to pilot. These things show up, but only as scripted sequences. The entire thing is on rails, and it’s boring. Really there’s nothing else to say about the gameplay; it’s just an exhausting and boring man-shoot.

The AI are also ridiculous. Actually I think they’re worse than ARMA2’s AI, which aren’t all that fantastic. To be fair, ARMA2’s AI has to do an absurd amount of stuff, and the AI’s problems all come about in enclosed areas, where pathfinding is much more intense and the game has to power the AI for sometimes nearly 100 units who all have to think and move independently to some degree. But Red River’s AI is much more basic because there’s no overarching AI direction here; it’s all scripted. So why the AI seem to make basic mistakes like COMPLETELY IGNORING MY ADVANCING SQUAD or STANDING IN FRONT OF COVER is beyond me. Even ARMA2’s AI manage to at least TRY to protect themselves, these guys frequently aim their weapons at unoffending trees or buildings. Your squad AI isn’t much better either. Sometimes I’d give them an order only to have them stand there staring into space. Look at this screenshot below. I’ve given that guy on the right an order to heal the dude on the ground. So he stands there and stares at him. The other guy is off hiding behind that car. It gets to the point where you want to just scream out “DO SOMETHING, FFS!”

This screenshot… I mean this says it all, really…

Graphically I suppose the game isn’t bad, but it’s not fantastic either. The distant terrain looks like something out of Oblivion. Up close textures aren’t anything special. Animations are pretty terrible. There have been a few times where I’ve shot a moving enemy, only to have them leap theatrically into the air, where the physics engine takes over and tosses them to the ground like a sack of basketballs. There’s just nothing appealing here at all.

GAMEPLAY: 2/4

There’s no appeal here what-so-ever. It’s a sub-standard war FPS based in a desert. It’s like a crappy attempt at making a COD game. I honestly can’t find anything good to say about it. It’s tedious. The AI are crap. The environments aren’t interesting. It doesn’t deserve the name Operation Flashpoint.

GRAPHICS: 1/3

Nothing technically wrong but there’s nothing particularly appealing about them either.

SOUND: 0/2

Immature dialogue combined with shitty voice acting. Also the environmental sounds aren’t that great. Also it didn’t work with my G35s.

LIFESPAN: 0/1

I didn’t even finish the game. It showed no signs of getting better after the first few missions. Hell, I stopped taking screenshots after the first mission. What the hell else am I supposed to show you? Go stare at a brown turd for a while, it’ll look much the same.

OVERALL: 3/10 POOR

In one word: bullshit! Seriously Codemasters, give it up and stop trying. This one manages to take a giant step away from OpFlash and even from Dragon Rising. There’s no connection to the old OpFlash, so why the hell append it to the title?! There’s nothing of value here at all. If you’re looking for the old magic of dynamic combat that was in OpFlash, you need to get Operation Arrowhead or anything from BIS. If you want a generic manshooter, pick any other game. This one isn’t worth your time.

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3 thoughts on “Operation Flashpoint: Red River Review

  1. Sounds like you just wanted to slate a game that in all fairness isn’t actually that bad.

  2. Just got this game played it for 20 min. It geting traded, The sexisim the f this f that goes over the top and I was not expeting us propaganda. This game is shit.

  3. I agree, way to much “f” word being used. I don’t see where that adds anything to the gameif anything it takes away from it.

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