by Thomas Mikkelsen
reviewed on PC
Realism and fun
We all have that one friend who plays nothing but Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, Battlefield, and FIFA - I really need to stop hanging out with that guy. A long time ago, that guy asked me why I play Red Orchestra 2 and he reiterated that question when I told him I was playing Rising Storm 2. “Because Rising Storm 2 is what the Battlefield series should have been,” I said. As the blood rushed into his face in preparation for a shouting match, I began to explain myself.
Realism and fun. That’s what Rising Storm 2 does better than Battlefield and Call of Duty (and Arma, for that matter). For sake of full disclosure: I haven’t played Battlefield 1 yet. To be completely honest, I was so turned off by Battlefield 4’s shameless DLC marketing and unbalanced unlockables that I doubt I’ll ever go back to my once favourite of all FPS series (RIP Battlefield 2, you will be missed). That being said, the game modes and team-based gameplay that used to characterise a good Battlefield match run deep in Rising Storm 2, and since the gunplay, movement, and physiology of the game is more realistic, the need for squad-based tactics and strategy is palpable.
The game offers 64-player multiplayer battles and on the US side, you’ll be able to pilot the UH-1H Huey, OH-6 Loach, and AH-1G Cobra helicopters. As an avid helo pilot in both Battlefield and Arma, I was intensely excited about the prospect of piloting a Vietnam era helicopter in a realistic shooter, and I was not disappointed. The whole experience felt a bit clunky and ‘off’ until I turned on the ‘advanced flight mode’ option. This made the cockpit feel like home, especially on the fast, agile, and responsive Loach. The helicopters do not only offer the US side increased firepower, but also the ability to transport soldiers behind enemy lines. “How,” you might ask, “are the Vietnamese forces supposed to compete with that?” The answer: “like they did in reality.” Every map has a network of tunnels that run under large segments of it. When inside these tunnels, the US forces can only use their sidearms, while the Vietnamese can carry their main weapon freely. While unrealistic, this makes the tunnels a precarious place for an army grunt to venture into, albeit an excellent way to flank the enemy should he make it through alive, similar to the risk/reward of flying between enemy lines on the relatively slow and easy to hit Huey.
Squad leaders on the Vietnamese side can also place down squad tunnels which act as spawning beacons for their squad. Should a Commander order the team to attack a specific point and the squad leaders strategically place these tunnels around that point, the US side would be overwhelmed by sheer numbers, helicopters or no. This way, the Vietnamese are given a bonus which counters the US’ superior weaponry. This is one of the few games in which asymmetrical multiplayer actually seems to work. There is a number of classes to choose from in the game and cosmetic upgrades to unlock, but you’ll most likely find yourself playing a regular grunt most of the time. Each side has only one commander and two of each of the special categories (radioman, machine gunner, sniper, etc.) and the rest all have to play riflemen. You’ll never be faced with a team full of snipers or machine gunning campers and constant action is virtually guaranteed. This, in addition to the thirty plus authentic weapons and maps make the game a joy to play as you meet new people and work together to overcome the odds.
While much more realistic than Battlefield and Call of Duty, the game is a lot tighter and more responsive than Arma. This is simply because the maps are smaller, the weapon does not drag behind as you move the mouse around, and it’s graphically more simple. There’s no inventory to worry about and you always know where to go to find the action. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Arma III, but you can really only jump into a match if you have an hour or two to kill. Rising Storm 2 may not offer the ten minute quick fix that a Call of Duty match offers, but half an hour is more than enough time to get your fix.
Now onto the community. The servers vary in their receptiveness to newcomers. Most will welcome you with open arms and patiently direct you - realising the game takes time to get into. Others will put a bullet in the back of your head if you don’t play the game the way they think it should be played (which, if you’re a noob, will be pretty much all the time). Luckily, five teamkills and you’re out, except if your victim forgives you in the chat. Punishment, therefore, is the game’s default stance on TKs. On the whole, though, patient, friendly players vastly outnumber the impatient dicks, so you shouldn’t have a problem establishing a mentor-mentee relationship with the more experienced players; a relationship that will be vital to shortening your acclimation period.
Tight, realistic multiplayer shooter
Rising Storm 2, like its predecessors, is a tight, realistic multiplayer shooter with a robust community of players and balanced asymmetrical gameplay that feels fair. The sound design creates a suspenseful atmosphere while the iconic rock music of the era sets you squarely in the time period. Graphically, the game is not the best looking title around, but it's good enough not to adversely affect one’s enjoyment of the action. While not exactly noob friendly, the community will help you get your swamp legs and, as a team-based game, you will have to communicate with others if you don’t want to simply be in the way. If you are looking for something more realistic than Call of Duty or Battlefield, but faster than Arma, look no further than Rising Storm 2. I will see you in my sights.
Tight, realistic action; balanced asymmetrical gameplay.
Learning curve; clunky default controls on helicopters.