Operation Flashpoint: Red River PC Review
Red River’s biggest technical faults concern the disappointing graphics, however. It’s one thing to balance out poor texture quality with an impressive scale, but when the world is so stunningly flat and empty it’s hard to see why the textures are muddier than a rugby match in a thunderstorm.
That’s not an exaggeration, by the way – the textures, like the models over which they're stretched, look incredibly bad even in regularly used and controlled areas, such as the back of a Humvee. There aren’t even any decent graphical options to tweak, further suggesting that Red River is just a lazy console port.
Bugs and glitches abound the closer you look too, with frequent graphical errors and wonky physics often proving at odds with the supposed focus on realism. It doesn't look as though Codemasters has addressed any of the flaws we outlined in our review of Dragon Rising
It's just a flesh wound
There's at least some solace to be had in the bare premise of the game once you’ve unlocked most of the decent weapons, at least. The basic gear you get at the start of the game is pretty unimpressive fare, with the option of a silenced sidearm notable for being totally useless, but it’s a lot more exciting once you get half-way through the game. You also get awarded points after each mission, which you can use to purchase extra perks and upgrades to your core skill. To cut a long story short: by the end of the game it doesn’t take quite as long to run the several miles between you and your objective.
There are also times when Red River’s unusual mismatch of genres comes together as it should, and we get a glimpse of what Codemasters is really trying to make; something close to the original Rainbow Six games on a grand scale, we reckon. More than once we caught ourselves slipping into a tactical frame of mind as we closed in on an enemy base. Shoulders knotted with tension, we’d carefully creep around corners and order our allies into place as we prepared to spring ambushes on enemies. Cloaked under this, Red River can occasionally elevate itself to the level of ‘Quite Good’, although only for short periods.
Operation Flashpoint: Red River Gameplay Trailer
Ultimately, however, there are few of these moments, and feel like they're spawned more out of want and perseverance on the player's behalf, rather than the any actual intelligence in the design. Certainly the levels, with their always-empty buildings and tracts of emptiness, don’t do much to pull you in and make the game as involving as it should be.
Red River doesn't just fail in its attempt to improve on the already-disappointing Dragon Rising, but it actually ends up worse. The levels are dull, the AI is basic, the graphics are terrible and the design feels conflicted at even the most fundamental level. The new setting and script only wound the experience further; we spent most of our time with our head in our hands, bored brainless. There’s fun to be had from the co-operative aspects of the game, but it’s fun that’s derived more from playing with friends, rather than playing specifically this game with them.
There's undoubtedly be a niche that will somehow appreciate the curious blend offered up by Codemasters, but we like our games like we like our drink; no half measures.