Game Rant’s Anthony Mole reviews Red Orchestra 2: Heroes Of Stalingrad
Ever since the success of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, few developers have attempted to create a game in the World War 2 sub genre. Instead, the focus has been on a more modern day setting.
Tripwire Interactive, however, has once again entered the familiar territory of World War 2 with their latest PC exclusive outing, Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad. While the singleplayer campaign can probably be brushed off, Tripwire has once again managed to create one of the best multiplayer titles available on the platform.
Red Orchestra 2 is the follow up to Tripwire‘s hit, Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45. As with the previous title, interested gamers can look forward to what is probably one of the most tactical and realistic shooters available, making games like Battlefield and MAG look like child’s play. For starters, weapon damage is amplified compared to other shooters. Just one bullet can be enough to take down an opponent, as opposed to other modern day offerings which sometimes require half a magazine to take down just one enemy. This leads to gameplay with a heightened amount of tension, causing players to think about how they plan to approach an objective, as opposed to just running in guns blazing. Of course, this also brings about one problem – a steep learning curve. Players unfamiliar with Red Orchestra will find the game to be very unforgiving and complex when they first boot it up; however, after an hour or two of figuring out the game mechanics and damage modifiers, many will find the Red Orchestra 2‘s multiplayer to be highly addictive and rewarding, though many will no doubt be turned off by the experience.
In multiplayer, players pick different roles, choosing from classes such as Squad Leaders, Riflemen, Machine Gunners, etc. There is a limit to how many of one particular class there can be on the battlefield – so as to avoid having teams with 32 Commanders. Players also earn XP for each class, so the more a player uses one class, the more proficient they will become. There is also a variety of unlocks for each class such as new weapons and attachments. Certain classes also have the options to call in airstrikes or give orders. Unfortunately, as with most tactical games, the ability to tell squads where to go is largely ignored, though it is still something that can utilized by anyone who is interested.
In terms of game modes, Red Orchestra 2 offers many variations on the almost standard-fare selection offered by other titles. The obligatory Team Deathmatch is present, though this is hardly where Red Orchestra 2 shines, instead most players will gravitate to the objective based game modes. Countdown is a personal favorite, and can probably be compared to Battlefield‘s Rush mode – with a twist. In Countdown, one side is tasked with capturing a series of objectives while the other defends, though what makes this mode stand out is the lack of spawning. Once a player dies they are set to spectator mode and cannot respawn until the objective has been captured. There is also a game mode called Territories, which is similar to the Domination-style game modes of many modern shooters – though, once again, with a twist. Instead of pre-set objectives scattered throughout the map, players are tasked with defending one objective while trying to attack another, successively capturing objectives until one team has run out of reinforcements or all of the objectives have been secured. These game modes help to give a breath of fresh air into a shooter trying to compete with the onslaught of titles releasing this holiday.
It would be an injustice to the game if one were to ignore just how thorough Tripwire was when creating Red Orchestra 2. The attention to detail is solid, offering a whole level of gameplay design on top of the already impeccable shooter mechanics. For example, in many FPS games, weapons can be fired for as long as the ammo will last, however in Red Orchestra 2 it’s drastically different. The machine gun is best fired in short bursts, as to not overheat the barrel. If the barrel does overheat, it explodes, meaning the player will need to replace it. Players can also check how much ammo they have left in a clip, bandage wounds before bleeding out, adjust sights for long range combat and even peer through iron sights of a scoped weapon. The amount of options players have available to them is simply stunning, and creates for some especially varied gameplay.
The only real issue the game suffers from is a dull singleplayer campaign. The campaign is hardly anything more than training for the multiplayer, which harkens back to the singleplayer campaign of titles like the original Section 8. Gameplay is really just multiplayer with bots, as players attempt to capture objectives from the enemy. The gameplay becomes a bit more varied as players unlock the ability to command squads, though it still remains very repetitive and unappealing. The closest thing that Red Orchestra 2 has to a storyline is a few cutscenes meant to connect the otherwise disjointed missions, but the lack of character development and focus on bravado only serves to bring back memories of Medal of Honor: Frontlines.
The campaign itself feels like a missed opportunity. There are actually two story paths, one for the Axis (Germans) and one for the Allies (Russians) – though the arcs never merge in a competent way. If there is one thing the campaign (and the multiplayer by extension) got right, it’s the harrowing feeling of the battle. Hearing soldiers scream out phrases like “I don’t want to die” always sends a chill down the player’s spine, and even oft-used phrases like “enemy fire” feels much more dark than in other shooters.
It also needs to be said that Red Orchestra 2 has a surprisingly beautiful soundtrack and the orchestral music really helps to amplify the action in both the single player and the multiplayer. Even spectating players in multiplayer is just as exciting when it’s accompanied by the well crafted music found in Red Orchestra 2.
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad isn’t a title that will appeal to everybody, the focus on tactics and realism will be more than enough to turn players looking for a more run and gun title away. However, those looking for a well crafted, tactical shooter will fall in love with Red Orchestra 2. The singleplayer falls flat, but this is ultimately a multiplayer game and one that is worth picking up.
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad is now available on PC.
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