by Ingvi Snædal
previewed on PC
Turn your attention to the less known battlefields
Ever since its humble beginning as an award-winning total conversion mod for Unreal Tournament 2003, I have been a huge fan of the Red Orchestra series. It manages to mix the realism of games like ArmA or Operation Flashpoint with elements from more action oriented games like Counter-Strike or Call of Duty. It accomplishes this by bringing realistic ballistics and gun handling mechanics, such as dialling in the range for greater accuracy and realistic scopes, into tight maps featuring progressive advances (in some game modes).
What I liked most about the game when it was first released was that it ignored the battles fought between America and Germany (which, frankly, have been done to death) and focused our attention towards the often forgotten Eastern Front. With their latest stand-alone expansion to Red Orchestra 2, Tripwire Interactive aims to show us another oft-forgotten theatre of war, the Pacific, which hasn't really gotten its fair share of attention on the first-person shooter scene.
Historical accuracy and realism
Tripwire have always been sticklers for historical accuracy and for this I would like to personally commend them. With Rising Storm they've even gone so far as to make the standard weaponry of the Japanese forces inferior to those of their American adversaries so as to ensure that historical accuracy is upheld. This meant, of course, that players would have to have some other incentive to play as the Japanese, knowing that in a rifle-to-rifle fight they would be outmatched by design. Knee Mortars, Booby-Traps and Banzai attacks are among the solutions they've come up with.
The mechanics of the game are designed to create a sense of realism and on this front, Tripwire have never failed. When you are suppressed, your screen goes black and white and if you're standing next to a grenade or an artillery or mortar shell as it goes off, you'll see double, lose your hearing and be disoriented for a couple of seconds as your character gets over the shock of the blast. Using cover, blind firing to suppress your enemy, and peeking around corners are all vital tools you'll have to utilize in order to win the day. Running straight at the enemy blasting away is a great way to experience the gruesome kill animations that await the unwary foot soldier, on the other hand.
Promises to be a great addition to the series
When Red Orchestra 2 was released, the game was disappointingly buggy and as a result, finding a populated server was often a bit of a challenge. Since its release in 2011, however, the game has been improved quite a bit and now has a dedicated group of followers. Although Rising Storm is still in closed beta, it looks very polished and I for one have not encountered any bugs yet. It appears that the developers have learned their lesson when it comes to releasing an unfinished product. A lesson learned is a complement earned.
Regular players of Red Orchestra will most likely feel a bit out of place in the Pacific theatre at first, as the green flora and wooden houses contrast quite starkly with the grey cement buildings and snow covered fields they are used to do battle on. Rising Storm will test your attention to detail as you search for that one moving pixel in the middle of a bush, or search the windows of a house for the sniper you know is there only to catch the flare of his scope as he lies prone under it.
Rising Storm is sure to be a great addition to an already impressive series and with the games being so accessible and easy to learn in comparison to other realistic shooters, there is no better place to turn if you are interested in experiencing the battles of the Pacific theatre of WWII.