Operation Flashpoint: Red River is as much about strategy as it is about explosive first-person shooter action.

Zapak's Operation Flashpoint is another one of those quintessential modern combat games genre, which the gaming industry seems obsessed with right now, but importantly it's not the one you can beat by running forward and spraying bullets everywhere.

At the same time, it's still noisy and explosive, and an involving action game against smart and deadly foes.

Endless targets

This is a game about caution and teamwork as much as it is about personal accuracy, and in such melodramatic, ludicrous times for shooters, it's stern, unforgiving tactical violence is a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, that breath threatens to lose its refreshing tang, as Red River quickly suffers from a shortage of the gloss that characterises its peers.

You play Kirby, leader of a four-man US Marine Corps fire-team operating in Tajikistan, close to the Afghanistan border, in 2013. At first, you're taking on local insurgents, but things really heat up when the Chinese army gets involved, with its seemingly endless manpower.

The missions are very long, multistage affairs which typically involve taking on enemies from a distance.

Involving periods of being driven around in the back of a Hummer, engaging in authentically expletive-studded Marine-banter, they feel stunningly authentic, and become more varied as the game progresses. This is a game where every enemy is an incredible threat; jog cheerfully around a corner rather than quietly scope it out first and the guy waiting on the other end will put two in your skull before you've even had a chance to raise your weapon.

Improved

The graphics and scenery design are superb; the key tactical wheel for issuing orders to your fire-team works beautifully and the weaponry responds as you would expect it to. It's the first Operation Flashpoint game with a credible single-player story.

But it really comes into its own, with some innovative modes, including one in which you defend a convoy beset by insurgents, and another in which you clear villages of insurgents and blow up weaponry stockpiles against the clock. The negative aspect is the tedious long run in between one set of warriors and the other.

Red River is clearly not for the faint-hearted; if you're anything other than a first-person shooter veteran, you will swiftly become frustrated by constantly being killed by enemies you haven't even seen. But it is impressively executed, infinitely slicker than its predecessors, and reveals the horror interspersed with periods of tedium that characterises modern warfare in a startlingly believable manner, which will surely earn it cult status in the future.

Agreed, it does not the have the big budget like Call of Duty or other games, but at Rs. 1000 it is definitely worth giving a try.

Gaurav is a II Year B.Tech Nanotechnology student of SRM University.

Keywords: video games