For all Modern Warfare run'n'gunners out there, prepare to meet your maker - Red River is going to cruelly punish that itchy trigger finger. While it's all very entertaining having access to silly amounts of ammo as well as a the obligatory superhuman ability to shrug off being shot in the head a few times, occasionally the serious gamer must test his abilities in scenarios more familiar to something called "the real world".
Flashpoint: Red River sees you command a four-man US Marine Corps fireteam in Tajikistan, taking on China's PLA. It's a tactical first-person shooter where you not only get combat duty yourself, but you also call in airstrikes and plan attacks – all on stunning huge maps that allow free movement (no pre-determined routes here, folks).
So far, so good – but here's where things differ from normal shooters: with Red River you'll have to handle engaging in firefights where you can't see the whites of your enemy's eyes. This is meant to be "realistic". No one's going to pop their head up and fire off 50 rounds that miraculously miss every part of your body just so you can get an idea of where they're hiding. Caution is the watchword here. Run and cover, soldier. Rambo-style run'n'gun tactics will not work, you'll get mown down before you can get that pin out of the grenade – as the developers put it, "Lone wolves die young."
Admittedly, the Flashpoint war-based shooter series has rightly come under fire in the past for being insanely difficult. Lean out from behind a rock and the AI opponents pick you off before your eyes have a chance to focus on what the hell is going on. But Codemasters has taken pity on us with Red River, dialling down the AI just a touch, yet still keeping the sense of realism that sets Flashpoint apart from the Black Ops alternatives. It's not a "sim", the developers insist, more like "cool authenticity". A dreadful phrase, but you get the idea.
So, if you ever feel that gunning down dumb AI Taliban in Medal Of Honor is more akin to shooting fish in a barrel – you know where you go next. And get your friends to enlist too, it's the co-op in Red River that really shines.