The experience of being a marine isn't supposed to be like games like Halo and Duke Nukem. You aren't some over strength one-man army action hero. You are part of a team and being a part of that team means that you bring in your strengths and weaknesses with the rest of them. Codemasters tries to deliver a game where you truly want to be a part of an awesome marine squad, but it comes off more being a grudging time in the desert.
If you have been up to date with any military action that the U.S. has taken in the past decade, the desert setting should be no real different than from what you have seen. This time around Marines has been deployed to Tajikistan in the near future to quell some insurgents in the area. You are part of Bravo Team as they are deployed around the area. You take on missions that range from intense firefights as well as hold-the-line operations.
The game does have some good voice talent to go with it. You do get a video game staple like Nolan North who lends his best jarhead impression, but the real star performance comes from Reno Wilson, who spends most of his time demeaning you and reciting passages from his rulebook like he is advertising the thing to hit bookshelves soon.
There is a level of customization to this affair and it should be commended for that. You have four classes to choose from that best suit your gameplay style and go into menus to switch your weapon load out as well as add accessories and secondary equipment to augment the role you can take on during a firefight. If you are more the "protect your allies" type of soldier, you can be an automatic rifleman and lay down suppressive fire to give your squad a better chance to flank their position and take them out. Or you can equip yourself with a long range sniper rifle outfitted with a silencer and be the scout for the team. As you can more experience, more weapons and accessories open up to you.
If you are looking for fast-paced action that you experience in the likes of Halo: Reach and Call of Duty, then this game is definitely not for you. The pace for this game is painfully slow. You will spend most of your time hiking through desert terrain and that only makes the trip worse. And once you get yourself into a firefight, it becomes more of a long-range engagement. Most times you'll find yourself firing off shots at targets that look like ants scurrying around on the battlefield. If you get any closer than that, you'll find yourself on the receiving end of a bullet. There are no real lavish set pieces here. Textures are pretty boring and it really becomes stagnant. You'll see nothing but sand followed by the same yellowish-brown buildings one after the other.
Not only are the graphics really repetitive, so is the gameplay itself. While the AI can be somewhat competent here and there, it is pretty much up to you to get them moving and fight. You just aren't their babysitter here; they are robots that will only take any significant action on your command. At the same time, it feels like you are tethered to them. You can have your squad mates move far away from you to try and undertake other actions, but you seriously put yourself in danger doing it. The game really places incentive on it feeling realistic, and it should be a watermark for the game, but it just makes it a begrudging fight in the desert. One well-placed bullet is all it takes to bring the gameplay to a halt. When you are shot, a red circular meter begins to drain. This signifies that you are bleeding out. If it completely runs out, you pass out. In order to stop the bleeding, you first patch yourself up and then you can heal the shot limb. This feature of combat is quite ridiculous. You will spend more time running for cover as you wait a few seconds as you patch yourself to stop the bleeding and then another few seconds healing yourself with a bandage so the wound doesn't reopen. However more times than not, you'll be too busy tending to your squad mates' wounds so they themselves don't end up dying. Yet doing this sometimes seems not to matter since if they die and if you reach a certain checkpoint, they'll miraculously come back to life. This is perhaps the main reason why it is not wise to send your squad mates too far away. If you find yourself shot, you will more than likely become incapacitated from the shot and unable to even heal yourself. Your only hope rest in calling out to your teammates for aid, but since they are too far away, you'll die before they even reach you.
If you don't feel like relying on your ally's AI trying it's best to keep itself alive, you can always join in with 3 other friends via multiplayer to take on a mission. Since the point of this game is being a marine unit, you won't find your standard deathmatch multiplayer here. You must work together to undertake a mission. You can travel through the campaign together or you can play specialty missions such as holding a position in a village as you stop enemies from encroaching on you or saving a military pilot who has recently gone down with his Black Hawk helicopter.
If you are into shooters, then there are definitely better titles than this one. Operation Flashpoint: Red River suffers from slow pacing and too much time not even taking part in firefights. It deals more with having you playing Nurse Nightingale healing yourself and your team than a death-dealing marine. If that sounds like your idea of a good time, then go nuts.