14| Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad

Released: September 13th, 2011

Avaliable On: PC

From the late 2000s to the mid-2010s there was an utter domination of the shooter genre. Never since platformers during the late 80s and early 90s had a genre had such a strangle hold on the console market. With Halo maintaining its status as a popular franchise, and Call of Duty becoming a monstrous success with it's fourth entry, it seemed that every publisher was flocking to find the next big title in the genre. Sureeven today shooters are still one of the most popular genre in the market today, but during the Xbox 360 and PS3 era, it seemed that virtually every hyped game involved shooting guns in the first person perspective, or at least over the shoulder. Many people at the time were calling the generation "the golden age of first person shooters".

While that is arguable for many reasons, personally I don't really feel that way. While the quantity was there, like WRPGs at the time, many shooters were watered down to appeal to the mass market. Rainbow Six used to be a tactical FPS series, but starting with Rainbow Six Vegas, it became yet another corridor FPS. Bioshock was the spiritual successor of System Shock II. Yet, despite upping the ante with the presentation, the level design was pathetic and the RPG elements were much more basic than its predecessor. And while the likes of Call of Duty and Killzone dominated the charts, they were a far cry, of what other first person shooters were doing for years in multiple categories.

That said, the era did have a lot of quality first person shooters. Team Fortress 2, Crysis, and Metro 2033 come to mind. But out of all of them, the one I felt stood head and shoulders above the rest, especially in terms of online mutliplayer, was Red Orchestra 2. With such a funny sounding name, most assume it is part of a Konami's "music game" series where the player is a maestro who wields a baton to conduct a symphony. While that does seem like something that is so strange that it could be a reality, the title is actually a Soviet themed WWII multiplayer first person shooter. The premise of the game is very basic, you join a large map with a large amount of players. Players are divided into two teams, Soviets and Nazis. There are two modes of the game, which is either to capture all of the territory or defeat all of the enemy teams players. In short, it's much like any other multiplayer shooter.

What separates Red Orchestra 2 from other titles are quite a few things. First off is that the gun handling isn't like most other titles. Modern machine guns and assault rifles do not exist in the game. The vast majority of players wield a simple rifle. This means that after each shot a player takes, they need to reload their gun. There is also the fact that the game is very unforgiving with its hitboxes. One needs be lined up just right in order to hit their opponent, while headshots are an extreme rarity, even moderate distances. That said when one does get hit, they lose a lot of health as it is often dire. This leads to two things about the game that few other shooters deliver, tension and reward.  Due to not being able to kill enemies instantly in a spray of bullets players have to wait and sneak up on enemies in order to get a perfect shot in. Players often camp in dense foliage or obscure parts in buildings in order to surprise players. In most games, this would lead to plenty of cheap kills, but due to Red Orchestra 2's brilliant level design there and multiple routes to take in a map as well as plenty of ways to scout for enemies. Waiting for a player to come by like a fish grabbing bait, or sneaking up and outsmarting a tricky opponent is so rewarding. Red Orchestra 2 doesn't rely simply on skills of wielding the gun, but more so on tactics and strategy.

The game also has pristine presentation. The Soviet inspired world both terrifies and invigorates the player. Moving through the maps and hearing characters talk, one can see just how dominate Stalinism was during the era. Stalinism wasn't just a political ideology, it was life for these soldiers and the world of the game really captures that. But one has to talk about the game's excellent soundtrack. It's so good, that the music actually players during gameplay. Regularly this would be ridiculed, but being that it fits the game so well, it not only gets a pass, but it is actively embraced with open arms. Being the Soviets were so heavily involved in World War II and did more to defeat the Germans than any other nation, it's nice to see a title focus so much on their perspective of the war.

In 2013 a stand alone expansion pack called "Rising Storm" was released. It was essentially Red Orchestra 2, but only with Americans and Japanese rather than Russians and Germans. It too was a great game, but at the end of the day, I felt that the maps were a bit lacking. And while I would like to see more games about the Pacific Theater, there is just no beating hyper masculine Soviet theme of classic Red Orchestra. That said, Rising Storm does have the ability for the player to wield swords and flamethrowers. Another stand alone expansion called "Rising Storm: Vietnam" is also currently in beta and scheduled for release in the not so distant future.

Red Orchestra 2 was a military focused multiplayer first person shooter in a sea of military focused multiplayer first person shooter. Despite this it managed to stand out thanks to tactical, tense, and rewarding gameplay. Tripwire Interactive has proven itself to be a very competent developer, and hope the future of the series remains bright, and red, as ever.

Posted by Punk Rebel Ecks Tue, 27 Dec 2016 01:11:54 (comments: 6)
Tue, 27 Dec 2016 11:40:02
Doesn't it get boring waiting for an enemy to make the first move?
Tue, 27 Dec 2016 15:50:50
Is this the one where you're avatar will start looking more ragged and starved the longer you have been playing?
Wed, 28 Dec 2016 01:51:14
gamingeek said:
Doesn't it get boring waiting for an enemy to make the first move?

That's not really how it works. You basically progress throughout the map, though catiously trying to scout enemies out. When you find one or potentially an area where they are, you move in for the kill. It isn't that stationary of a game.

SupremeAC said:
Is this the one where you're avatar will start looking more ragged and starved the longer you have been playing?


Wed, 28 Dec 2016 12:49:47
Do you hide like Splinter Cell? Are there safe areas where the enemy cannot see you?
Thu, 29 Dec 2016 05:12:53

There are areas where it is difficult to find people. It's essentially VERY well designed maps. I recommend buying the game. It's currently $5 on Steam sale.

Sat, 31 Dec 2016 20:10:56

This is a game I would never pick up unless you mentioned it.

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