Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad Review
If it sounds like you’re going to die a lot, that’s because you are. Assaulting entrenched machine gunners can be brutal, but you can make it easier using one other really cool system Red Orchestra 2 includes: suppression. The suppression system (BF3 will include a similar mechanic) basically works like this. When a lot of bullets are hitting around you, you’ll see your morale bar dropping. Tank shells or artillery will make your morale sink faster than I do when I try to swim. You’ll also lose morale if a teammate gets blown away near you, which was a subtle touch I really appreciated. Another nice addition: Players who preform well on the battlefield become ‘Heroes’ and their presence boosts the morale of those around them. I have not seen this persist from map to map, but it’s still an awesome mechanic.
Tanks are also included, and climbing around inside them in first person is a very nice touch. Multiple players are needed to crew these metal monsters. One person drives, one shoots the main gun, one shoots the coaxial gun, and the fourth player is the tank commander. Communication is key in these situations, and players who can chat will have definite advantage.
Graphically, RO2 offers up a stunning depiction of the war-torn Eastern Front. Rubble pervades the cities, buildings have collapsed, and things are generally not in good repair. Unreal Engine 3 powers these visuals, but that also means that you’ve got the waxy-looking characters that seem to appear in many UE3 games. Animations seem a bit stiff, and sometimes you’ll see places where they don’t mesh as well as they should, but overall the game has a great look that really nails the setting.
Unfortunately, Red Orchestra 2 suffers from a number of bugs. The built-in voice chat barely functions, pings occasionally skyrocket for no apparent reasons, and game crashes happen far too often. I averaged a crash every couple of hours. The game runs well enough when it’s running, though. Most of these bugs fall squarely into the “really annoying” category, rather then the “game-breaking” one. Luckily, Tripwire Interactive is well-known for excellent post-launch support of their games, so you can expect these bugs to be ironed out in the coming weeks.
All in all, Red Orchestra offers up something I’ve really been looking for: a solid multiplayer shooter that doesn’t have regenerating health, raising the dead, or any of the other modern conventions shooters have embraced these days. It rewards teamwork, strategy, and patience. The downside to that is that many casual shooter fans won’t like RO2 because it’s not ‘pickup and play’ friendly. Still, if you’re a hardcore shooter fan like me, and you’re willing to put the time into learning all the nuances of the game, Red Orchestra 2 delivers an experience unlike almost any shooter on the market today.
- Hardcore shooter goodness
- Awesome multiplayer experience that encourages teamwork
- Suppression mechanic makes concentrated fire valuable
- Varied weapon and class selection
- Broken voice chat, vanishing tanks and other bugs
- Steep learning curve
- Singleplayer AI leaves a lot to be desired