Welcome To The Eastern Front, Comrade...
It would seem that the World War 2 era has lost its appeal to the big gaming publishers and that it has fallen to smaller companies to fulfil our thirst for Nazi blood. Tripwire Interactive is one such company. They have delivered a number of titles set in World War 2 and have taken realism to levels most developers wouldn’t dare touch. Their latest title, Red Orchestra 2, aims to live up to its predecessor’s legacy, a game that captured the hearts and minds gamers craving for realism the world over.
Better Dead Than Red.
I'll warn you now, Red Orchestra 2 is not for the faint of heart. This is no easy stroll through a far away land and you’re not a near-invincible super soldier either. If you go into the game with that mindset, you will come out the other side a changed man. Red Orchestra 2 isn't about winning or losing, it’s about surviving and when at first you do so for even a few short minutes, you will feel like a hero that has stood against insurmountable odds.
Tripwire’s philosophy clearly is “realism comes first”. Every weapon and every vehicle has been painstakingly researched and tweaked to be as near to its real world counterpart as Red Orchestra 2’s engine allows. That does naturally present some balance issues as German weaponry was vastly superior to what other nations had to their disposal and you’ll have to love with that. War is hell and just like the soldiers who fought that war, you have to learn to adapt. You can’t rely on health bars, frequent ammo drops or even a hud. Red Orchestra 2 wants to make you feel like you are there, in the midst of battle, as a human being and not a super soldier with a magically regenerating health bar.
Unlike its predecessors, Red Orchestra 2 comes with a singleplayer element. It is essentially a “bot mode” with a loose story to guide you through its maps. If you're looking to experience the full joy of the game, it’s best left alone after playing the first mission which outlines many of the game’s features such as the brilliant cover system and the much improved movement system. Granted, you won't be wall-running in Stalingrad any time soon but the movement is so fluid, so lifelike that it puts most of its peers to shame. Your comrades will be sprinting across the battlefield, climbing over rubble, diving for cover and out of windows, and you’ll be joining them every step of the way.
War Is Hell...
But the new cover mechanic, reminiscent of that of Gears of War, is what really steals the show. You can take cover behind practically anything you would expect to be able to with the stroke of a single key. What is truly revolutionary, though, is the fact that this is all done in first person view. You can peek up and around cover, blind fire and do everything you would expect to, but without the usual advantage of seeing over the cover without poking your head out like you can in third person view. It works surprisingly well and stirs up a great sense of fear and urgency that if you dare look, it could be the last mistake you ever make. Doing so has its advantages, of course. You can prop your weapon up on any surface, whether you're in cover or not, to stop it from swaying. This steadies your aim, especially when you are carrying a machine gun with a bi-pod attached. This limits recoil considerably and turns your machine gun from an inaccurate piece of crap into a bullet spraying beast that should be feared by all who cross her path.
Further adding to the sense of realism is Red Orchestra 2’s morale system. Morale is represented by a small bar on the game’s minimalistic HUD and is invisible until someone does something that'd make the average soldier crap their pants. Enemies - or friends for that matter – that fire close to you, bullet impacts and grenades landing nearby will all lower morale. As bar depletes, the screen will blur and turn grey indicating that your character is pretty damn scared. While it may be annoying for some, it's an important feature as without it everyone would be fearless and act accordingly. Now though, when you're sitting in a burnt out building with bullets whizzing by your head, there couldn't be a greater sense of urgency and fear to get the hell out of dodge before you paint the opposite wall a nice shade of brain.
Looks and Sounds superb, Great player control, amazing realism, developer mod support, a truly smart shooter.
Quite a few bugs at launch, teamwork centric which is hard to work with on public servers, higher learning curve than the average FPS.