Can't we all just get along?
If you've kept track of the games I've covered in the past, you might notice that I don't follow first-person shooters often. I enjoy the single-player campaigns if they're done well, but I generally don't care enough about multiplayer fragfests to get into them much. One thing I can say, though, is that if there were more multiplayer co-op campaigns in the genre, I might be compelled to play them more.
[image1]That's why Operation Flashpoint: Red River is a breath of fresh air for guys like me. Amidst Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Crysis, Bulletstorm, and a dozen other high-profile games with big guns and guys with biceps the size of Massachusetts, co-op tends to take a backseat. Of course, that's not to say that co-op multiplayer doesn't exist, but only a few series approach it with the polish and detail of Operation Flashpoint.
The upcoming Red River installment puts you in the shoes of a U.S. Marine in the not-too-distant future of 2013. A mission to quell a minor civil war in Tajikistan turns into an international conflict with the People's Liberation Army of China. Going around and gunning down Chinese might draw some racial tension, but I doubt it'll be a big deal following the release of that other game where you shoot lots and lots of Asians.
Throughout the demo level I was shown, I was repeatedly impressed by the intricacies of the team-based play – and that includes both enemies and players. The enemy AI is excellent, utilizing both physical cover and the cover of their squad-mates' fire to flank around or run to good sniping positions.
[image2]You have three buddies to help you out on your side too, which are controlled either by the same capable AI or real live humans in a seamless drop-in, drop-out basis. The several classes all have notable differences, and a good selection of soldiers will help your chances of completing the missions. I favor the scout, which is the standard sniper, but I wouldn't be able to do that job effectively if my team didn't consist of a rifleman to lay down support fire and a heavy assault infantry to run in and distract the bad guys with some loud and scary weaponry.
Realism is an emphasis in the combat, save for the respawns when you're not playing on hard difficulty. A single shot can either kill you or make you bleed out. If you start bleeding, you'll need to find a safe spot to bandage up for a while or you won't make it. A teammate can resuscitate you if you're incapacitated from a wound, but they'll have to clear the area of the immediate threat or risk falling to the same enemy fire that brought you down. Sometimes the only prudent thing is to let your friends go.
Operation Flashpoint: Red River doesn't feature competitive multiplayer, but it compensates for that by providing a detailed campaign designed with co-op first and foremost in mind. If you're starting to tire of deathmatches and capture-the-flags, you'll want to check it later this year.