That hasn't stopped Codemasters from trying. Red River's new stylized visuals make an immediate and effective statement: this is not the same Operation Flashpoint of yesteryear. As with Codemasters' other FPS, Bodycount, the team is going for a "J.J. Abrams-inspired" feel. The team wants you to feel like you're viewing the world from a helmet cam and, as such, bright lights will blind you, colors will be slightly distorted, and should you get hit you'll experience Kane & Lynch 2-style visual glitching. The tactical military genre doesn't really lend itself well to such an artistic decision, and it was hard for me to decide if it made the game memorable, tacky, or both.
The balance between realism and entertainment is further evident in the narrative crafted for Red River. This new tale sends you into Tajikistan, a (real) country that borders Afghanistan and China. In the "it could happen" fiction of this world, the military has chased insurgents out of Afghanistan into Tajikistan, and the army must do its best not only to stop these forces, but maintain goodwill in a newly destabilized country. China's PLA, focused on ensuring the war does not seep into its borders, joins the assault, creating a conflict that quickly gets messy. Having the American military go directly against the Chinese army, whilst fighting guerrilla insurgents, is at once absurd, terrifying and exciting.