Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad

In Mother Russia, Stalingrad plays you

That’s right, there’s another WWII shooter on the shelves—or in the cloud— and this one attempts to emulate realism for a massive-ish scale multiplayer romp.

This frag fest is a retail release of an Unreal mod that was popular a few years ago. Now it’s back, looking great. And then there’s the bugs and the crashes to the desktop …

Urban warfare between Axis and the Allies is always exciting, right? The singleplayer missions teach you the basics, but the squad-related orders that you can give are very simple for the bots. At the beginning of each mission your fellow comrades, or Hitler fanboys, will charge the enemy and take cover when they’re being shot at.

Missions become a tedious case of occupying objectives and clearing the hostiles out. I tried to flush out the ‘grain elevator’, a tall multi-levelled structure, from the top to bottom, but I’m guessing I didn’t trigger the scripted events because the building was empty. Shit got confusing when I cleared the ground floor and then level two went from dead quiet to dead holy-shit-where-did those-bastards-come-from?

Some of the subtle ‘realistic’ elements in play include setting your sight for distant targets to account for ballistic drop and manually bolting your rifle. While you’re aiming you can ‘breathe’ to focus and zoom in just a tiny bit more. There’s also a neato suppression meter that indicates how screwed you can be.

If someone is pelting your position with lots of metal then it’s a good idea to stay prone or cower behind something solid. Machine guns actually fulfill their role, which is pretty cool. Online against real people though, the machine gunner is a suicide role because the moment you set up somewhere or let your muzzle flash, some prick will snipe you.

 The conductor just fled the Red Orchestra

Very early on you realise that you can’t just run and gun, arcade style. Firing from the hip just sprays lead everywhere. Even if the baddie is in front of you, shooting without aiming is not wise. This forces players to switch to their side-arm, focus on melee (swing the butt of your rifle), drop a grenade or retreat. If you think it isn’t safe to crawl to the burning wreck for cover then chances are you’re right.

Online games are like playing any kind of deathmatch game with Caldred (you will always die due to long-ranged weaponry). Also, dying is worse than waiting for respawn in Counter-Strike because it happens so frequently. If you like your killstreaks and your tripped out guns then this is not the game for you.

It is refreshing to play against people who don’t talk trash on their mics. Obviously, the target audience for Red Orchestra 2 comprises the more sophisticated gamer. Pfft.

 Ve’re all living in Amerika

This game should be renamed to Sniper Heaven. The class system sets a maximum number of riflemen, machine gunners, assault infantry and so on to keep teams balanced, however due to the almost one-hit kill mechanic most people camp with a Kar 98 or Mosin Nagant and hit anything that moves. I tried to camp at one of our objectives but I accidently team-killed an assault dude who tried to take the building I was sniping at, three times. I was booted from that server.

The next game I joined I decided to be a little more mobile. In-game, I notice there’s only a toggle for iron sights and crouching and going prone. Frustrating. At least Call of Duty allows toggle and/or holding a key. Even more frustrating is the ‘left control’ is used to interact with cover but it’s also the default button to apply bandages. So if you’re exchanging shots with someone and you get hit—and you don’t instantly die— then ideally you hide behind cover, bandage your wound and then keep firing. Unfortunately, the ‘left control’ can get a little buggy and when you go to bandage yourself you might get out of cover or pick up weapons strewn on the ground instead. If this happens you bleed out and respawn. Many deaths are due to the fiddly controls (I swear on my Primus collection).

 Panther, Tiger, birdy

Oh yeah, there are tanks too. They’re hard to use because you need a driver and a gunner and a commander. Without a mic, it’s just silly. At the end of the day I think Call of Duty: United Offensive is more enjoyable because gameplay is more fluid and the tanks are much simpler to handle.

Red Orchestra 2 is fun, but it is also a very frustrating experience. Battlefield 3 is looking fantastic …

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