Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad is Tripwire Interactive’s latest addition to the Red Orchestra series – a PC exclusive FPS set in WWII and designed around realism. It’s a standalone sequel that brings lots of hype to the table and today we’ll see how well it lives up to the first, award winning, Red Orchestra.
RO2 finds us focusing on the Battle of Stalingrad and the surrounding operations, both German and Russian, from July 1942 to February 1943. The game allows us to experience one of the most brutal battles in all of human history as we are given the opportunity to play as the Axis side in the single player campaign. Then in the multiplayer you are given the choice to play the Russians. The single player campaign is not a simple shoot-em up like most FPS games. Throughout Red Orchestra 2 you will interact with all sorts of items such as radios, tanks and you even get to take command of squads, being able to order them at will.
The first thing we are faced with in single player is a bit of training that has all the usual things involved. First you get to run an assault course that teaches you all the basic controls in the game; standard stuff like running, ducking, jumping and climbing. Then you are faced with the weapons training, when my first bit of frustration came to light. The game’s realism is really good to give it credit; the weapons are modeled to be as accurate as possible to the actual thing. Therefore, we have a section in the training that involves bullet drop where you are required to guess the distance of the target and adjust your shot accordingly. This took me about 30 minutes to get past because I just could not hit a target needed to progress, no matter what i tried.
Eventually after lots of frustration, I managed to proceed onto the actual campaign. The very first thing I noticed, to the game’s credit, was the graphics, which I must admit were pretty detailed. The graphics guys have done this game great credit here, the details on the buildings are fantastic, and the Unreal Engine has been utilized very well.
The sound effects within the game are awesome, the soundtrack is so good it feels like you are playing a part in a movie. The guns sound perfect, they have obviously taken great time and effort making the sounds as close to their real life counterparts as they could. From long distance shots popping at you to close range ones, they all sound different and believable.
After my initial few minutes of awe, sadly I started noticing the games downfall: its A.I. Red Orchestra 2 has some of the worst AI I have faced in a very long time in a FPS game. The problem is that you are faced with the usual task of get from point A to point B, but as you slowly progress to the target you start to get very frustrated. The other members of your team are all running around like headless chickens. Seriously, its a complete joke. They have no worries about running out on their own in the middle of a gun fight, then quite promptly getting gunned down. Even as you progress to being able to command squads they seem to ignore your orders; at least they did for me.
The other thing I found all the time was that you don’t really feel a sense of achievement because the other members of your unit are often all running straight into the buildings and clearing them on their own to complete the missions. This simple matter completely ruins the single player campaign, and makes me suspect that the game was rushed to release. Hopefully, the developers will be able to patch this problem as, at the moment, it really hampers what could otherwise be a brilliantly realistic FPS.
Ok, so lets move onto the multiplayer side of RO2 which is a very welcome inclusion that feels like a completely different game. You have vast open maps and smaller maps to play on. You can have up to 64 players to make vast battles, and because there are no computer A.I. to deal with, these are very realistic skirmishes indeed. I have no complaints about the level design, you’ll find buildings which are fully explorable, streets with lots of cover and just what you would expect from a Russian WWII map. The game has a ranking system – the better you do, the more XP you earn for a higher rank. You also get ranked and unranked servers. If you are up for a realistic multiplayer game with great, weapons, graphics and gameplay mechanics then Red Orchestra 2 won’t disappoint.
To finish, I have to say that if you can ignore the A.I. issues, then Red Orchestra 2 is pretty good game. It is certainly one of the most realist FPS’s I have played in a while. I would not recommend it to anyone looking for a Call of Duty-style arcade game. This is not that kind of game, it is a fast paced and intense shooter, well worth it for the multiplayer alone. I would, however, say you will need a pretty beefy PC to run it at the top graphics setting, I could not reach them as my frame-rate would drop to about 20fps. Even playing on the medium graphics setting though, the visuals are some of the best I have seen. It’s a very good sign of things to come, it seems that developers are really getting the hang of the Unreal Engine, and now I can’t wait to see what Red Orchestra 3 will look like.
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