by Chris Capel
reviewed on PC
What are you waiting for, breakfast in bed?
Complaining about the dialogue is a minor thing, as irritating as it is, because the shootouts are excellent. As mentioned before, and I want to drive home the point clearly, do not go into Red River expecting Call of Duty, because plenty of people will, I'm sure. Encounters are predominantly long-range, often with enemies you can't even see until they move, and while they will go down with one shot, your accuracy is poor over those necessarily long distances.
Furthermore, you will go down with just a few shots too. You can hold ‘Use’ to patch your wounds (fail to and you will bleed to death), and continue to hold to heal. You have an infinite amount of bandages and medkits fortunately, but it does add an element of desperation and believability that modern “recharging health” shooters lack. Player characters are also the only ones who can heal, so don't expect any help from your AI teammates.
Frankly, I think you should consider Red River to be very much like Left 4 Dead, meaning playable in single-player but intended for co-op. AI partners can be even worse than the L4D crew – at least the L4D guys stood still when you wanted to heal them. The improved radial command system is much simpler to use, but these guys stick their heads in the line of fire too often. Still, at least they brilliantly tell you when they are about to run in front of you. More games should do that. I've killed too many of my own soldiers in Modern Warfare 2.
In co-op however, the whole game comes alive and can be utterly incredible. With two teammates it's great, but get a whole squad of four and you have one of the best co-op multiplayer experiences available.
Assholes and Elbows
This is primarily because the battles are, for the most part, utterly superb. The liberation of a dam far in the distance, slowly pushing forward and gaining ground inch by inch. A daring stealthy night-time raid which turns into a run for your life. Trying and failing to hold back an entire invasion force. These are just examples from the first few hours of the game. Get at least one other person in there and Call of Duty is swiftly forgotten, and even single-player is good with them (if anything it makes certain scenes even more desperate).
If I have one problem with the actual gameplay, it is that there has been a definite notch-down in freedom since Dragon Rising. While the areas you fight in stretch for miles, you can't venture too far out or you will get bumped. Drivable vehicles are also now basically non-existent, apart from the occasional jeep. While it makes the combat tighter and more interesting, it does limit the tactics you can deploy.
So, should you buy Operation Flashpoint: Red River? If you are looking for a co-operative shooter you can't really do much better. People didn't mark Left 4 Dead down for being lackluster in single-player and I won't with Red River, as long as you, dear reader, realize that you will not have as much fun without at least one more human player on your team. The dialogue and humvee rides get annoying fast and the restrictions to your freedom makes this both better and worse than Dragon Rising. Looks much better though.
With that extra person, and the knowledge that Red River is more realism and less Call of Duty, then this is definitely a shooter that should be on your playlist. And somebody wake up Hicks.
Superb co-op, spectacular battles, improved command system
AI partners ridiculously stupid, dialogue painful, reduced freedom