by Chris Capel
reviewed on PC
Another glorious day in the Corps
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising was an excellent attempt to get a more realistic first-person shooter into the console market, as well as to make the hardcore “military sim” style of the original a bit more mass-market playable, without spoiling things. The results certainly weren't for everyone, but for those who wanted a more believable, less run-and-gun shooter but didn't want to go the full ARMA II route it filled the niche nicely. Co-op was excellent too.
Red River attempts to continue in these footsteps, while improving the flaws that held Dragon Rising back. First of all, don't worry about the speeches Codemasters gave about making this more accessible – this is still completely Operation Flashpoint (at least the Dragon Rising incarnation). Long-range assaults, one-hit kills, low accuracy. That kind of thing.
If you really hated the fact that Dragon Rising wasn't Call of Duty, then Red River is not for you either. If you try and play them the same way you will be dead before you see your first enemy. If, however, you like that idea or enjoyed Dragon Rising but are hoping the sequel removes the problems it had, then you may be happy with Red River.
After the pleasantly satirical opening movie, the game starts with you being yelled at by your commanding officer, Staff Sergeant Knox, who is played by Al Matthews, who some of you may know better as Sgt Apone in Aliens. After a bit of shooting you board a humvee and are continually berated by Knox while listening to Megadeth, or some other licensed track on the radio. Within the first ten minutes you will have discovered the formula you will be playing for the entire game.
That's not entirely true or fair, but sometimes it feels like it. Knox + Music + Transport, for several minutes, is a formula that appears far too often. The dialogue in Red River is clearly meant to be either edgy or entertaining compared to the more dour-faced Call of Duty series, but Red River takes it too far. I openly cringed every one of the many times that a soldier went “oo-rah”, and constantly got annoyed by the ridiculousness of pretty much every single line in the game. Furthermore, why is it okay to be massively racist in war?
The story itself is actually quite cool if you can ignore the dialogue. Won't spoil what happens later, but the US Army's been called into Tajikistan to deal with the insurgent armies making the (invisible) population’s life hell. Yes, Tajikistan is real, and despite looking like Medal of Honor it's not in the Middle East. Anyway, You are dropped in to command your squad under Knox's tutelage as your airbase gets bombed in the middle of the tutorial. Suffice to say the Chinese People's Liberation Army from Dragon Rising don't stay out of things for long.
Superb co-op, spectacular battles, improved command system
AI partners ridiculously stupid, dialogue painful, reduced freedom