The sequel to last year’s Dragon Rising, Operation Flashpoint: Red River will be heading to computers and consoles alike in 2011, and it plans on packing a punch. The question is, will it finally appease the hardcore war simulator fans?

In Red River, players will be taken through the Central-Asian country of Tajikistan, which is tucked in between Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and China. Given the locale, it seems like a perfectly realistic target for a war simulation.

“[Red River will] include a deeper narrative-led campaign, streamlined inventory and control system, a refined enemy and squad AI system, player class roles including customizable XP upgrades and loadout choice, close-quarters combat and new air support options.”

The above description comes straight from Codemasters themselves, and we can only hope their words ring true. While Dragon Rising fared fairly well with critics, the hardcore fans were left unhappy at the successor to the legendary original, Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis.

As someone who drowned countless hours in the original, I have to say that they have a point: the original was famous for having solid AI and an incredibly, well-supported modding community which added thousands of new units into the game. This community is non-existent for Dragon Rising, as most of the community left for Arma. Why? Because the AI was terrible, and Codemasters dropped support for the game in favor of working on the newly announced Red River.

Before you ask, it’s a different Dam than the Half-Life one.

Granted, perhaps this ‘cut and run’ technique will mean that all that was wrong in Dragon Rising will be good again in Red River, and we could have a wicked experience again. The storyline was decent and the variety of units and tactics was pleasing.

Without a doubt, however, the best feature in any Operation Flashpoint was the mission editor, where you could develop any scenario and see it to fruition, being who you want to be, where you want to be, with whatever units you wanted to have, doing whatever you wanted them to do. This allowed for people to make insane, crazy, scary and fun scenarios – and again, something the original community embraced moreso than the Dragon Rising one.

But enough about the old stuff – Codemasters has moved on and so must we. Red River promises what looks to be like a more urban environment, and for those seeking realism, Operation Flashpoint is very much the shooter and tactical game you may be looking for. You shoot a man in the head, he’s going to die. He gets hit in the leg, he won’t be running. Medics can patch up bleeding wounds, but they aren’t going to magically heal marines a la Starcraft. Yes, Red River is called a war simulator for a reason – given the chance, it might just prove itself to you.

Operation Flashpoint: Red River will ‘flow’ to your PC (or console! though it won’t have a mission editor) in 2011. And by consoles, we mean solely PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 – sorry Wii gamers, it’s got a lot of loading and a lot of graphics.

What do you think of Operation Flashpoint? Are you excited for a Red River sequel?

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