You know all about first-person shooters, right? They’re all about fast action, contemporary scenarios with tons of precision firepower and targeting and they come with titles like Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare. Not overly hot on realism but all about the adrenaline rush, correct?
Well, according to developers Tripwire, that’s not the whole deal. 5 years ago they brought out a WWII FPS called Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 that avoided the obvious theatres of war like Normandy and Berlin and concentrated instead on the frantic survival on the Eastern Front. Now the sequel, Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad has hit the shelves and it’s a reminder that ‘real’ war can be chaotic, terrifying and swiftly fatal.
Multiplayer mode was always the strongest element of the original Red Orchestra, and the same is true here, although you can ‘warm up’ by ploughing into the single-player campaign, which allows you to fight for both German and Russian armies and includes tutorials in basic combat, being in command and tank tactics.
On the down side, the tutorials are still bug-ridden, despite Tripwire’s attempts to iron out all the glitches in the overall gameplay but if you persevere you’ll discover a much more ‘nervy’ way of wargaming.
Once into multiplayer you’ll have three options: Firefight, which is a quick and deadly form of deathmatch; Countdown, which is even quicker as you have only one life; and the most popular, Territory, which is pretty self-explanatory.
A well-developed cover system lets you ‘stick’ to most surfaces and then either peak over or round the side and shoot or fire blindly over the top and frighten any advancing enemies away. However, death can come instantly with only the occasional bandage to stop you bleeding out.
Because you’re using authentic weaponry there are no crosshairs and iron sights are a must if you’re even to find the foe you’re trying to kill. Unfortunately both sides look remarkably similar from a distance, so it’s frequently hard to know whether you’re killing your compatriot until it’s too late.
There are graphics issues plus occasional crashes and stutters but for all its failings, Red Orchestra 2 manages to put the terror back into war.
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- Multiplayer 'reality'.
- Still too many glitches.
In an age of glossy 'modern' first-person shooters, Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad is a rougher, tougher, frequently exhilarating version of wargaming that is let down mostly by technical failings and problems with identifying the enemy.