Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad Review
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad (PC [Reviewed])
Developer: Tripwire Interactive
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive
Released: Sept. 13, 2011
The Make Something Unreal contest is one of the most awesome things Epic Games does. Each year, they award one awesome mod team an Unreal Engine license to make their game a reality. This year, Haunted: Hell’s Reach won the prize. Back in 2007, a little World War 2 mod called Red Orchestra took the prize. That mod team is now known as Tripwire Interactive, and they’ve just released their second WW2 title, Red Orchestra 2.
Red Orchestra 2 is, at its core, a quasi-realistic depiction of the Eastern Front of World War 2. Players will join either the German or Russian armies, after which they’ll find themselves in iconic battles ripped from the pages of history. This was true of the original Red Orchestra as well, but veterans of the first game will find something entirely new here: a full-fledged singleplayer mode.
Red Orchestra 2′s singleplayer is very much reminiscent of other multiplayer shooters that simply give you the multiplayer maps and bots to shoot at. However, RO2 adds in some narrated cutscenes that function as mission briefings, and lays out a series of objectives to fulfill. While this is a welcome improvement over just playing multiplayer with bots, the AI makes the singleplayer experience somewhat disappointing. The multiplayer (which I’ll talk about shortly) is a very complex, team-oriented experience, and the AI simply can’t hold up its end of the bargain. What it does do is give you a less hectic place to get a feel for the game, the maps and the myriad controls before you attempt to go online.
RO2 features a wide range of controls, and the reason I mentioned getting a feel for them is because it takes a while to master. Like most shooters, you can run, sprint, jump and go prone, but that’s not all. RO2 also allows you to run while crouched, vault over obstacles, and even take cover. Your view stays in first person while in cover, so leaning out to assess the battlefield is a must. You can also use cover as a rest for your weapon, making it more stable and accurate. Heavy machine guns like the MG34 can be deployed on objects of the correct height, and doing so is a must to being effective with them. You can even adjust the sights of your weapon to compensate for range, which is a great feature in a game that features so many rifles.
Once you’ve got those controls figured out, it’s time to go online, and that’s where Red Orchestra 2 really shines. Joining a server, you’ll pick from a number of classes. Classes are differentiated by weapon type (assault, rifleman, machine gunner and sharpshooter, just to name a few), and there are a limited number of slots on each team for each class. I loved this mechanic, because it prevents any of the wide-open maps becoming sniper battles, and encourages different classes to work together to advance.
Once you get into combat, you’ll find that you’re in a very dangerous place. One bullet can put you down, and if you take a wound that doesn’t kill you, you’ll be bleeding. If you don’t bandage in time, the blood loss will put you down. There’s no battlefield medic or revive mechanic. It’s about as close as you’ll ever get to fighting in the streets of Stalingrad. There are no ammo counters on the HUD, but you can hold the reload button to check the status of your current magazine. You’ll remove the clip, and the game will tell you if it’s full, half full, or nearly empty.