Red Orchestra 2 is good. As in, go-buy-this-game-now good. It’s a rare breed of World War II shooter, finding the right middle-ground between realism and fun. With accurately-modeled ballistics, meaty guns, phenomenal soundwork, and tight gameplay, RO2 is a breath of fresh air in the stagnating FPS genre.
Red Orchestra is set in the Eastern Front; Germany is knocking on Stalin’s door and the Russian leader is none too pleased, so a glorious massacre is the only acceptable solution. On the other side, Hitler is desperate to tear down the walls of Stalingrad and seize the city for the Third Reich. Recognizing its strategic value, the German Warmachine is ordered to crush the Reds and occupy the city. With any luck, the Russians will break and run back to the Motherland. It is here that players will slug it out for either the glory of the Motherland or Fatherland in some of the bloodiest battles of World War II.
I’m not going to lie; RO2 is hard. As great as the gameplay is, there is a very steep learning curve. Gamers jumping from the Call of Duty ship will have a hard time adapting from the typical run-and-gun shooting they’re used to. Bullets also drop according to the laws of gravity, so players actually have to aim above and lead targets before they pull the trigger. What’s also different from most shooters is that gamers have to camp. It’s part of surviving and living long enough to pick off targets from a safe distance. However, should players make a mistake, there is an ammo resupply option and bandage packs that heal most wounds.
For a game that emphasizes multiplayer (see preview), the devs over at Tripwire Interactive have also added a decent singleplayer campaign. Featuring over-dramatic voice-overs and explosions galore, it offers a good training ground for gamers who aren’t looking to lose their melons online. However, the singeplayer campaign takes a backseat to the multiplayer battles as SP missions tend to take less than 10 minutes and lack much of the nerve-wracking tension found when players go against other humans.
In the preview I praised the visuals and soundwork. All of what I said still applies here. The visuals are Unreal-3-alific, meaning they’re pretty darn gorgeous, especially on the highest settings. Textures are nicely done, and the weapon and character models are phenomenal. The soundwork equally matches the graphics, featuring a rousing orchestral soundtrack and war sounds that throw players right into the thick of battle. Every weapon has a distinctive noise, and the audio really gives a weight to each and every shot fired.
While the presentation is top-notch, I have noticed a couple of technical issues. The game experiences quite a bit of slowdown when battles head into building interiors. This could be my rig showing its age, but I was able to run Crysis 2 on ultra settings with barely any hiccups, so the slower performance is troubling. The animations for soldiers are also a little funny-looking once in a while, but it’s barely noticeable considering 99.9% of engagements take place over long distances. Now, the game was recently patched, so I’d imagine Tripwire has been optimizing the various components to run better on most rigs.
Overall, Red Orchestra 2 is one of the finest WWII shooters this generation. It brings back fond memories of the Flashpoint series while adding a few twists to the typical milsim formula, allowing newer players a chance to enter the fray without setting the skill bar too high. While Red Orchestra does have one or two minor issues, they are of little concern and, with the amount of dedication evidenced by the Tripwire team, should work themselves out in no time.
The bottom line: 9.5/10