Sometimes, a particular theme gets too much attention in a specific medium. For WWII shooters, that theme is the West-European theatre of war. If I’d ask you to name a game that deals with Americans vs. Nazis, you would probably have to think a moment before answering. It would be because too many games come to mind, however, and you would probably have to sort out which one to mention. When it comes to the East-European theatre, on the other hand, your mind would not be overcrowded. Red Orchestra is undoubtedly the king of those shooters. Tripwire’s Red Orchestra 2 received quite a lot of criticism when it first hit the shelves for a plethora of bugs that left the game’s server list feeling like a barren desert complete with tumbleweed and chirping crickets. After a number of patches, however, the game has become one of the best WWII shooter experiences available. After teaming up with a group of talented modders, Tripwire have released a stand-alone expansion to Red Orchestra 2 entitled Rising Storm which deals with another neglected theatre of WWII, the Pacific.
Tripwire have always paid close attention to historical accuracy and realism and that is what makes their games so appealing to those of us who have outgrown the extremely simplistic shooters of yesteryear. In Rising Storm, much as in Red Orchestra, you can dial in the sights of your weapon to account for bullet drop over long distances. This is not a game where you simply match the crosshairs with the player in front of you and take him down. No, you will have to account for the distance between the two of you and if you miss, you’d better believe that he will make the necessary calculations for you.
Historically speaking, the Japanese were technologically outmatched in their fight against the American invaders. That does not mean that they didn’t develop some innovative ways to halt their progress, however. Tripwire have managed to emulate this imbalance in a way that ensures balance between the two sides in the game. This contradiction in terms is produced by allowing the Japanese to bury their grenades in the ground, creating booby traps, carry mobile mortars, and use banzai attacks against the Americans. The banzai attacks suppress the enemy and give the Japanese soldiers taking part in it a temporarily increased resistance to having lead pumped into them. The Americans, on the other hand, can put much more bullets down range than the Japanese can and have a flamethrower which comes in handy.
For those of you who own Red Orchestra 2 and enjoy it for the intense urban fighting and the buildings in which one can hide and plan ambushes, this game might not be up your alley. Rising Storm features more open maps, fewer buildings, and more flora. Instead of peeking into each and every window of a tall cement building as you slowly make your way past it, every single bush is a possible enemy in hiding. There are few things more irritating than staring at a bush through your scope for about a minute, contemplating whether revealing your position is worth those two pixels that kind of look like a scope, just to see a muzzle flash and the taunting kill-cam that follows.
Tripwire have chosen not to keep track of how often you die on the scoreboard in Rising Storm, presumably in order to get players who are too preoccupied with their kill/death ratios to take a more active part in the assaults on enemy targets as that is what the game is all about. Camping in a bush may get you some extremely satisfying long-range kills but it won’t help your team that much. Everybody needs to take an active part in the assault or no one gets to eat the cake. It is very important for both teams to have active squad leaders and team leaders as the squad leaders paint targets for the team leaders to call in artillery strikes on. If those two roles are not doing their job, the team doesn’t stand a mars bar’s chance at fat camp. Having leaders who use voice communication is of even greater value, as they can warn players to stay out of areas that are about to be bombarded and maintain communication down the chain of command.
The game reminds me of the English language: It’s easy to learn but hard to master. Even as a veteran player of shooters, I get killed a lot in this game. After playing today’s most popular shooters, I’m used to being able to see my targets clearly and to take a few hits before going down and I love the fact that that is not on the table here. If your enemy hides better than you do, you’re f*cked. If your enemy is better at calculating distances, f*cked again. If your enemy is better at using cover than you are, or if your enemy has more active leaders, your whole team is screwed. So if you are looking for a thrilling Pacific theatre WWII shooter and don’t mind having to master it to gain the respect of your fellow players, you should definitely be playing Rising Storm right now.
Realistic combat; a great setting; a true test of skill.
Some latency issues on bigger servers.