Red Orchestra 2 : Heroes of Stalingrad is one of those rare games that tries to break the mold on first person shooters. While the core gameplay remains the same, it is Tripwires attention to detail and realism that really set this game aside from others in a genre that has become over saturated. Make no mistake, this is not Call of Duty Clone Number 32. If you expect to single handedly storm a house and kill all the enemies inside, your time in Stalingrad will be short. This game requires patience, team work, and time before you’re able to fully appreciate what is offered in this game. There are a few technical issues the crop up, but overall the game plays well and is definitely a serviceable shooter for those that are willing to give the game a chance.
There are many details that you will notice right away–an almost nonexistant HUD, no ammo counters, and a very lethal damage model make for a slightly more realistic game. But then you’ll notice little details as well, such as using iron sights below a sniper scope for use in close combat, changing out overheated barrels in your light machine gun, or bandaging a non-lethal wound before you bleed out. Another unique feature is the supression system, which will grey out your screen and lower your accuracy. This adds a layer of strategy to the game that hasn’t really been explored yet. All of these things combined make for one of the most realistic experiences for a shooter to date.
Red Orchestra also features a pretty good cover system. Whenever you are close enough to something you can hide behind, a press of the left Ctrl key will press your soldier up against it. While this may sound like a “been there, done that” scenario, the game sticks with it’s realistic feel by not going to a third person view. What this means is you are going to have to put yourself in harms way in order to get a bearing on exactly where the enemy may be. There is also a blind fire option, which for once means that you actually have no idea where you are firing or if your shots are hitting any targets. The only problem with the cover system is that it will only allow you to stick to certain objects, so you may find yourself a little more exposed than you wanted to be because the cover you ran to doesn’t allow you to stick to it. However, this happens sparingly and you will usually find enough cover to keep yourself safe.
The game features a single player campaign, but very few people will have the patience to finish it. It was obvious that Tripwire’s focus with this game was the multiplayer experience because the single player feels like multiplayer lite. AI players take the place of humans and unfortunately are not the most effective of squadmates. Missions play out on regular multiplayer maps, with just a quick briefing explaining why you’re fighting before dropping you into the action. While some of these missions are there as tutorials, overall the campaign just feels tacked on and isn’t worth the time.
On the presentation front, the sound effects and music are very well done in this game. You will hear the sound of distant gunfire, squad mates screaming out their status while under fire, or even the gurgling death rattle of a soldier who is not long for the world. The graphics are quite good as well, although you will see some pop in and disappearing textures from time to time. In one instance while crawling prone along the side of a building, a quick turn towards the building made the wall disappear, showing the location of where the enemy was hiding. Aside from a few of these issues, the presentation is very successful in immersing you further into the atmosphere of the hectic battle for Stalingrad.
While overall the game plays well during the single player campaign, technical issues start to crop up when you take the battle online. A very strange bug that has affected many players is the server browser suddenly showing no servers at all, forcing a player to restart the game completely. The voice chat in this game horrendous, which ultimately destroys any attempt to coordinate an effect attack or defense since you can’t hear your teammates. And since this game is realistic, falling back on HUD or map information isn’t a secondary option. There are other random issues and bugs that pop up, but since Tripwire has a reputation for fixing their games, the majority of these problems will be resolved with patches. However, this means that the game is currently too buggy for some players to enjoy the game.
Red Orchestra 2 is a game that is not for the feint of heart, or for the run-and-gun gamer. This game requires a little more involvement from the player than just rushing a position and spraying a hail of bullets. It is intricate, realistic, and immensely satisfying once you get a handle on the flow of the game and the unique features included in the package. While technical issues and a shoddy single player campaign bring down the game’s initial fun factor, given time this can be one of the most immersive and realistic shooters out on the market right now.
A copy of Red Orchestra 2 : Heroes of Stalingrad for PC was provided to us by Tripwire Interactive.