Operation Flashpoint: Red River (PC)

11 Jun

After a long hiatus, I’m back to the gaming world (thanks to a new rig) so I’m still scratchy with my opinion with not much to compare with. This is officially my first war based First Person Shooter (FPS) after playing ‘Call of Duty 2’ eons ago.

You play Kirby (a rifleman by default), leader of a four-man US Marine Corps fire-team Bravo part of a squad called Outlaw 2 operating in Tajikistan in the year 2013, fighting local insurgents initially followed by the better armed Chinese army under a swearing -Staff Sergeant Knox.

A simple story-line stretch along (some of them over 45minutes long) via multi-staged levels that further drags on due to tedious jeep/helicopter rides in the beginning (and the end in some cases) of each level where Knox is busy raving about how uber-awesome you are or passing racist comments about the enemy or just ranting about how screwed you are. Knox tends to get on your nerves a little too often though he is a life saver (more like a baby sitter) as he barks out orders throughout the mission.

Controls are straightforward with nothing in the shape of a tutorial (apart from a shooting range) as you’re instantly thrown into your first mission learning your way around. The game play isn’t like Rambo, “Let’s go attack the enemy and blow them into smithereens” ,as a single bullet can knock you out. You need to plan your way around to get ahead with the help of your (mostly) useless team.

You have the ability to control your team via a radial command menu that has a set of commands from flanking the enemy to defending a building. Unfortunately getting your squad to do what you want them to do is disappointing due to frustrating AI issues. From defending a spot by standing in front of the sandbags to getting run over by vehicles to simply being stuck in a door; I often found myself shooting them as they kept popping in front of me or healing them over and over again because they failed to take cover as the enemy showered them with bullets. In the few occasions where they did get it right, they were quite efficient and good support, especially when you’re busy healing yourself cowering behind a wall hoping not to die.

Tactical support in the form of Air support or Artillery is usually unavailable in most stages. In the few places where limited access is available, quantity is scarce and mostly ineffective requiring you to engage the enemies in a gun battle instead.

You get plenty of enemies to shoot at especially when encountering the Chinese forces but yet again the infuriating AI shows its ugly face. Most of the time shooting down the enemies is being back in the firing range as they’re either running around looking for cover or crouching in open spaces making them sitting ducks for you to pick on. This makes the inconvenience of preserving ammo in some of the missions a non-existing issue as most of the time a single shot is all you need to dispose off your enemy. Armored Personal Carriers (APCs) are slightly harder to deal with at close range, though a piece of cake at a range with a single well-aimed anti tank missile especially since the AI yet again is either busy stuck behind a tree or another APC. The same goes for the Helicopters that tend to follow the same path in circles making it rather easy and predictable.

All is not lost though as plenty of times your mistakes of taking something for granted leads to a certain dead with enemies hiding in corners ready to take out your team as you rush past them. Sometimes the sheer number of them overrunning your defensive perimeter is overwhelming and satisfying at the same time as you manage to pick them off one by one or retreat with a smoke cover trying to stay alive till the next checkpoint.

Apart from the campaign, you have the Fireteam mode that allows you to gain progress points through four surprisingly fun missions irrespective of the AI flaws.

Visually the game is average; the vast environment created by the updated Ego 2.0 engine is stunning while character models are detailed but compared to some of the games I’ve had my hands on, the finish seems a little edgy in some places. The rock soundtrack got very repetitive while the speech was mostly Knox ranting (muted to be exact).

Operation Flashpoint: Red river tries hard to make you feel like a real soldier with the jeep rides and long strolls. With a need for careful planning and team effort and with the fact that you could be taken out with a single bullet but a frustrating AI and an ever talking Knox ruins what could have been an interesting FPS.

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