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About the product
- Features everything from quick, brutal firefights, to more intricate and challenging simulation modes
- Grow in rank, earn medals, improve your abilities, and become a Hero – all visible to the complete online gaming community and embedded within the game
- Features the multiplayer maps used in a campaign layout, recreating the battle for Stalingrad from both the German and Russian sides
- Experience the ultimate firefights that a cover system allows, from the immersion of a first person view
- Command fire teams on the battlefield using an easy to use first person interface
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Focusing on the Battle of Stalingrad and the surrounding operations, both German and Russian, from July 1942 to February 1943 the game allows the player to experience one of the most brutal battles in all of human history.
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Now, I bought Red Orchestra 2 Heroes of Stalingrad and Red Orchestra Ostfront only after putting a lot of time into researching what WWII shooter would be my best replacement for Battlefield 1942 (a game I only stopped playing because of the changes to my favorite server). I was focused on finding something a little more serious and realistic than classic BF; something that would be a little more challenging.
Well Red Orchestra 2 is exactly that. If Amazon would allow me to, I would give this game at least 4 stars for frustration. Because when you first start out and you don't know the maps or haven't tuned your skills yet, you die a lot. This game is in no way forgiving of mistakes. Any hit to the torso with something larger than a pistol round is fatal. Get hit in the foot or leg and you're alive, but only for a couple more seconds, as you can no longer run and are stuck out in no man's land, making you a perfect target for enemy riflemen. Any hit you take in a vital area that doesn't immediately kill you must be bandaged quickly, because you will only have a few seconds before you start to bleed out and lose consciousness. But if you've been doing the math here, you've realized that these conditions also make you extremely deadly. If you get the drop on Ivan first and hit him square in the chest, that's it. He's not going to power through it and keep shooting. He's going to fall where he stands, never to bother you or your Komeraden again. It's this lethality that makes RO2 so brutally fun. You must be cautious, but at the same time you must strike quickly to defeat your enemy.
The gameplay is immediately made more serious and tense with this increase in firepower. When it only takes one shot to kill you, you suddenly find yourself hesitant to run out of cover or across open areas. While the controls are a little awkward to begin with, they can easily be modified to your preferences (I personally changed a couple to make the transition between BF and RO2 easier and have had no problems). The sound also adds another level of intensity to the RO2 experience. I highly recommend that before you start playing you turn on the native voices and turn off the music. Your heart beats all the faster when you're alone in a building and all you can hear is Ivan stomping around upstairs and talking in his rough Slavic tongue. Every single encounter with an enemy soldier turns into an epic battle, and the feeling you get when you finally run him through with the bayonet is one of absolute relief. The blood and gore thrown into RO2 just adds to the effect. Simply watch as you paint the walls red with headshots or tear limb from body with your anti-tank rifle!
For those of you familiar with the battle of Stalingrad, or the Ostfront in general, you will be glad to see the amount of detail that was put into this game. If you are so inclined, google a recon photo of Pavlov's House and the surrounding area in 1942 and you'll see that the RO2 map of the same name is virtually identical. The 'house' itself also looks just like the real one, which adds another level of realism and enjoyment to the game. As for weapon functions, I was impressed to see that if you don't watch your rate of fire on the machine guns they will overheat, and in the case of the MG34, you will have to change barrels in order to keep up your fire. Another impressive feature put into this game is the tanks (the T34 on the Russian side and the Panzer IV for the Germans). Both tanks are incredibly detailed and realistic. They respond very acutely according to where you have been hit by anti-tank fire and both contain specific weak spots to aim for when on the opposing side.
As for the team setup in RO2, it is exactly the same as RO1. For those of you who haven't played RO1, this means that teams are structured as a unit. On the top, you have one person operating as Team Leader/Commander who calls in artillery and directs troop movement. Next you have 4 or 5 Squad Leaders/NCO's who carry the valuable smoke grenades and also serve as mobile spawns for the men within their squad. Following behind in each squad is an assault trooper, a machine gunner, and a mess of rifleman. There will also be a couple marksman thrown in as well, but they operate individually, not within a squad. In certain maps, there are extra classes such as Anti-tank soldiers and Engineers, but they will not always be available. Coming from Battlefield this was a great relief for me, as FINALLY not every fool on your team can pick up a sniper rifle and go hide in the mountains. But as I'm sure you can imagine, this system also has a bad side to it. It can be a hell of a lot of fun when the people on your team have mics and know what they're doing, but if they don't, and some kid who bought the game 2 days ago opts to be your Team Leader, you're probably screwed. Fortunately most servers have admins on to control this annoying occurrence, but problems still arise from time to time.
The weapons are detailed and perform as they should. Most have upgrades you can get after killing a set number of enemy soldiers, such as a bayonet for your standard rifle or a scope with higher magnification on the sniper rifles. Most weapons have 1 upgrade, some have 2, some have none. This is mainly due to the realistic nature of said upgrades (no red dot sight for your Schmeisser CoDies).
Unfortunately, this game is not without its faults. A few sacrifices were made in the field of realism to appease a group of gamers less concerned with historical accuracy. First off, a couple weapons are thrown in as unlockables that really make no sense in the time period. For instance, as a German you can get your hands on an early version of the Sturmgewehr 44 called the Maschinekarabiner 42(H). Historically a very limited number of these weapons were produced and it is very unlikely that any made it to Stalingrad. As for the Russians, their unlockable assault weapon is the AVT-Battle Rifle, which almost defies explanation. It is, in essence, a fully automatic version of the SVT-40 semi-auto rifle. Initially I believed this rifle to be completely imaginary, but, as my research tells me, the Russians did indeed make a couple thousand full auto versions of the SVT (WOW). Once again though, these rifles would not have made an appearance in Stalingrad. Secondly, they added a little thing called the Recon Plane, which is awkwardly similar to a spy plane in CoD. Its purpose is to let you know the general location of enemy troops so you can mark artillery accordingly, but it functions more accurately than that. It can detect you and reveal your location to the enemy even if you are in a building or well camouflaged. This is annoying, but it by no means ruins the game.
All in all, Red Orchestra 2 is the most realistic and enjoyable WWII shooter I have ever played, with endless hours of close in, house to house fighting. Along with the steady stream of new maps and updates that come via Steam, RO2 continues to get better, and if at all possible, more brutal.
The Good: The depictions of the battlefields are very well done. In fact if you look at wartime photos of the battlegrounds, you would see the stunning effort Tripwire developers went to, to ensure accuracy. When you are fighting at Fallen Fighter's Square or Pavlov's House, it looks like you are really there. The weapons are pretty well modeled and deadly. The game doesn't give your character health points. Although you can bandage a minor wound, the majority of hits by a rifle caliber bullet will kill you. The lethality of the battlefield may be a turn off for some but for those more interested in authenticity, this will appeal. There are several different modes of play from the basically free for all to the slower paced count down mode where you get one life per objective. Considering the instant death awaiting around every corner, this particular game mode makes one very cautious.
Each map has a certain load out of soldiers/weapons. This is to keep the teams balanced and offers some historical authenticity to the teams. Not everyone will be getting an automatic weapon or smoke grenades. Commanders can call in artillery. Those toting a light machine gun can be resupplied with ammo by their teammates. The majority of troops will however, be your basic rifleman with a bolt action rifle.
Some more good news is this game is produced by Tripwire. This company has a history of supporting their product, and allowing modders to make new maps and the like. They have already released several patches to correct various problems and I have complete faith that they will continue to do so and have already been working on additional free content such as new vehicles.
The Bad: The game like many these days, was released too early. There are many bugs and performance issues that detract. Although I run the game pretty stable and smooth, many people with high end systems are getting sub-standard performance. Tripwire has been working hard to squash the bugs though one of the new features of the game was saving stats and being able to upgrade your basic weapon. This system is currently horribly bugged. It is not saving stats properly, and is awarding Steam achievements and scores that are quite impossible. I don't personally care much about the stats but for some, this is a big turn off. It IS being worked on though at the time of this review. I do have faith that Tripwire will stand by its product and keep working to make the game run like it should have.
Another bad feature for those that enjoy historical authenticity is the addition of some weapons into the mix that were basically prototypes. And not only were these weapons rare and their use in Stalingrad questionable, they are available in numbers far too many. Although the numbers have been reduced, many feel that they are still too prevalent.
Recon planes....the commander can call in a recon plane. Although this plane can be shot down, it provides far too much information and really, shouldn't exist for the level of combat represented.
The Summary: Buy this game if you like WW2. Buy this game if you like FPS games. But have patience for the eventual bug fixing, additional maps provided by the community, and new vehicles and weapons that will be coming. I fully suspect that in time, this game will span all of the Eastern Front once more with the help of the dedicated modding community.
The "psudo-realism" setting that most Modern-era FPS have taken is vexing. A gaming experience shouldn't require much suspension of disbelief.
Team Fortress 2 is a great game for its cartoon fantasy setting, allowing us to imerse ourselves in the gameplay world.
Call of Duty on the other hand takes a "realistic graphic/settings" approuch, but keeps gameplay highly casual (i.e. health regen, invincible humans, no recoil, unbelievable events, ect.) and fails utterly!
RO2: Heroes of Stalingrad on the third hand upholds a deep commitment to realistic gameplay to match its unique real-world setting, the bloodest and most interesting infantry conflict of all time, the Battle of Stalingrad.
The game was pushed out early which means lots of bugs and critic reviews that are less prasing than it deserves, but Tripwire has proved itself to be a company commited to ongoing development with loads of free content and performance improvements down the line.