Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad PC
World War II purists can now rejoice in a first person shooter that is simply online multiplayer gaming without all the fancy high tech gadgets.
Graphics & Audio: 20/25,
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad on the PC is a first person shooter brought to its simplest form but using great gameplay and graphics from the Unreal Tournament Mod. Red Orchestra 2 started a couple years ago as a mod to Unreal Tournament and has gone on to become a pretty good overall first person shooter retail game.
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad takes its cue from the title and concentrates solely on the Russian versus German campaign of World War II. It does use the major event of the Battle for Stalingrad as its focus but mainly you battle through either the Axis or Allies on nameless battlefields.
The game has two major components in the single player campaign and the multiplayer online gaming with the concentration on the online component. The game is alright for the single player campaign but it turns out to be fantastic when you plug real players on a wide open battlefield with World War II weapons.
Tripwire Interactive has continued to release more realistic games and their line of World War II shooters has been almost always better than average gaming. Red Orchestra 2 continues this better gaming but not in the single player gaming area, the single player gaming seems more like a tutorial for better things to come.
Jumping into the campaign you are faced with allies that will run right into a hail of gunfire, face the wrong direction and get shot in the back as well as get stuck behind objects to remain rooted. The enemies are no better but with guns pointed at you they become a real risk but when stuck behind objects it can be helpful.
You get the idea that Tripwire may not have hired very great level designers and programmers for their AI but I am not going to disparage the people working there for their multiplayer game is much better. The single player campaign is a great way to learn the dynamics of the game and get the mechanics down to be able to at least not fall flat on your face when first jumping into the multiplayer gaming.
Multiplayer is like night and day when compared to the single player campaign, enemies are deadly with shots easily hitting their targets easily at over 200 meters, something like 650 feet. Running headlong across open areas becomes a race to beat the bullet when enemies can easily pick you off with the assortment of weapons available.
You start a multiplayer match by picking your class from regular riflemen, marksmen, squad leaders and even commander as well as tank positions. Once you have chosen your class you jump into combat but not before one extremely important selection that is not automatic, squads.
Pick a squad, this game is won and lost with squads, nothing else is as important as joining and following your teammates as you defend or attack points. Squads will make the difference from twenty guys dying one by one because a group of select enemies are keeping cover, covering fields of fire and generally watching each other’s backs.
The scenery is sparse but believable, trees and bushes are easy to hide in but your legs sticking out under the tree can make an easy target for a sniper. Everything you do can give away your position to an enemy you cannot see like running or even shooting.
One thing I did notice that really makes the game enjoyable as well as realistic is your sighting and the general view you see, when looking down you scope everything comes into focus better. When you’re surveying the battle field distant objects will be somewhat in focus but when you use your sights they become much clearer.
When you hold your breath to aim the view gets even clearer but it does have a bit less field of view so sacrifices are made every time you sight in an enemy or even survey a building for enemies. While you’re searching one building for someone to shoot someone else is doing the same thing from other areas trying to sight you in.
I noticed this especially when an enemy was lying prone on a line of rubble along a building but while walking I could not see him from the rubble. Bang and I was down but I went back to see who shot me and I could see him but only when sighting him in, bang and he was now respawning back in his territory.
Field of views, teammates watching out for enemy’s trying to find you and generally more eyes keeping the entire area under view is important. Your teammates can mean the difference between keeping enemies pinned down as you advance, one game when I first started playing emphasizes the teamwork and even voice communication to me very well.
We were pretty much tied in points and our reinforcements were low, I’ll explain that in a minute, so when our numbers were down to nothing one of our teammates told us to retreat and hold in a warehouse. All of our team backed out of our defensive positions and took up positions in one building both in windows and doors as well as generally keeping each other covered.
One by one we died as the enemy killed us off but being in a building we got more of them then they got of us and we wound up winning the round because more of us were alive at the end. Talking and having people do what the leaders or even the ones who are better players is important and made the difference between winning and losing.
One of the multiplayer modes is kind of interesting and much different than other games, you have reinforcements that are the numbers of respawns for all your team. This is one game mode called territory where you either attack or defend an area with two other game modes available.
You can play the territory game mode or the more common team deathmatch and a new mode called countdown where you get one spawn for a time period to attack, defend or kill enemies for each objective. The modes are pretty good and give enough variety but I prefer the territory but whichever game mode you prefer teamwork is the most important aspect.
If you try to play lone wolf you will quickly find that you die a lot and the teammates you’re supposed to be helping will not like you. If you work to secure objectives or just follow team members to back them up they will help you with ammo and even cover as well as make friends of them.
No matter your technique and gameplay style the game itself works well for what it is, a retail version that started as a modification from another game. The scenery is a bit sparse when it comes to things to hide behind and this becomes obviously important when it comes to running from building to building trying not to get shot.
The textures and colors are muted and very war torn but look pretty good and with the obvious focus on war the game looks very good for a first person shooter. While I would not compare this title to other AAA ones like Battlefield or Call of Duty this is easily as good as those titles when it comes to gameplay.
The game looks pretty good and plays great but some things are more of a hindrance unless you use them correctly, the cover system for example. Cover is great and when it is inconspicuous and only pops up on your screen when available it can help by not being in your way.
I have used the cover system in Red Orchestra 2 but usually I ignore it and work at not getting shot while trying to be helpful to my team. The cover system will stick you to objects like walls and allow you to peek out from that cover but usually I don’t bother with it.
Tanks are another very special use item and being in one is great, a real weapon that is complex even though they use them simple controls the same way anymore. IN Red Orchestra 2 a tank can make a huge difference in a fight and even using one as cover can help a team turn the tide of a firefight.
Using the tanks simple configuration helps and the HUD does give you more information than World War II tanks had, the HUD gives you helpful information about crew position and turret orientation. Even the friendly soldier’s labels are not used often so identifying enemies becomes a major part of Red Orchestra 2.
The friends labels only show up when friendlies are close to you so longer range identification becomes a bit of a problem, friendly fire is discouraged after all. I found and read on the internet later that uniform color is more useful for identification than anything else.
Allies wear tan colored uniforms while Axis are grey which makes for an easy choice on whether a soldier is friend or foe, just look for the color that is not yours. I even found that the tan color is easier to spot than the grey so I prefer to fight as the Axis as the enemies are easier to spot for me.
Red Orchestra 2 works well, looks and sounds great and with a unique focus and view system it really is impressive in its seemingly simple gameplay. Even though it may seem simple the gameplay is complex and it can be quite rewarding when you do make that 200 plus meter kill using a simple World War II iron sighted rifle.
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad is well worth a purchase to get in the gaming in this more simplified multiplayer experience that really does reward marksmanship and teamwork.