Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad – Review
Follow Genre: Realistic FPS
Developer: Tripwire Interactive
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive/Lace-Mamba Global ltd.
Platform: PC

Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad – Review

Site Score
Good: Great in-depth WWII sim
Bad: No real single player campaign
User Score
(3 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.7/10 (3 votes cast)

When Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad was released back in September 2011, the reviews were mostly favorable. Unfortunately, the gameplay was marred with several, sometimes game-breaking, bugs. With the lack of shooters coming out lately, we’ve decided to take a look at Red Orchestra 2 again. In the meanwhile, Tripwire Interactive has released several patches for the game, hopefully improving the overall experience.

RO2 Logo

Red Orchestra 2 is set during World War 2, but unlike what we’ve come to expect, this game isn’t about storming Normandy. Rather, the developers have opted to bring the eastern front back to life. So it’s the Germans versus the Russians this time around. The game doesn’t really have a single player component, so there isn’t much story to speak of. When you do decide to play the single player, you basically get the multiplayer levels, populated with bots instead of players, and some awkward cutscenes thrown in. Both the Russian and German campaign focus on the attack of Stalingrad, at the end of 1942. You get to play as either side and you try to capture or defend Stalingrad respectively. Nothing we haven’t seen before.

RO2 Combat 3

Even if you possess the necessary hardware and turn the graphics up to the max, Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad can only muster mediocre graphics. As the title leads us to expect, you fight your battles in mostly in urban environments, complete with bombed out buildings. Some maps, usually those used for tank battles, are set in a scorched countryside.

The color palette is mixture of boring gray and all the shades in the brown spectrum. Somehow, they’ve managed to make the smoke look blocky, something I wasn’t expecting to see from the Unreal 3 engine. It’s not that there isn’t anything to look at. It is pretty impressive when things explode and the debris is strewn around, but the graphical polish the Battlefield and Call of Duty series bring is absent here. There is some redemption to be had however. Everything in the game is as historically accurate as possible, from the clothes the characters wear to the vehicle models, making this the ultimate WWII sim.

RO2 Tank

The lack of eye candy does not get in the way of an enjoyable experience though, as this isn’t the sort of game you play for the visuals. The focus is mainly on the highly technical gameplay, but more on that later.

It should also be noted that I wasn’t able to reproduce the stuttering that troubled the game at release. It appears that this has been fixed. Whether this is because of newer drivers or because an actual update to the game is unclear to me. The bottom line is that, unlike before, the game can now be played fluently.

When the game was first released, the sound was a major cause of irritation as many of the bugs had to do with the audio. For example, sometimes after loading a map, the sound wouldn’t start and the game would eventually crash. Not quite as drastic but still annoying: footsteps sounded a bit off, and way to loud in comparison to the background noise. Luckily, these are things Tripwire has addressed and the game sounds great now, especially the weapons and tanks. Much time has gone in to getting these as close to the real thing as possible and it really helps you get immersed.

RO2 Sniper

This game should come with a warning on the box: “Not for beginners!” I’m afraid this warning should also be extended to gamers that have only played Call Of Duty titles after Modern Warfare and other arcade like shooters. Red Orchestra 2 isn’t just hard, it can truly be brutal. Any bullet is potentially fatal, no matter what gun it comes from. Running around thoughtlessly through open terrain is a sure way to the respawn queue.

Snipers are at a great advantage as bullets behave just as they would in real life. Whether you hit somebody in the chest from 300 meters or from 30, it makes no difference, dead is dead. It is therefore paramount that you make yourself as difficult to spot as possible. Thankfully, your character has the ability to take cover behind rocks and walls. You can also lean and bend around corners, and take a quick peak before you jump out. Should you get caught in the open, you can always try crawling through the rubble in an attempt to make your escape.

RO2 Combat 2

To make things even harder, the HUD is very minimalistic. There are no crosshairs, and no exact indication of how many bullets you have left. You do get the number of remaining mags though. In general, the game mechanics and weapon physics are at an extraordinary level. Every bullet you fire follows a realistic trajectory. You will notice your bullets will start to drop after they reach a certain distance, depending on what weapon you are currently wielding. A sniper mustn’t only master sneaking and hiding, but must also judge distances, set the sights accordingly and breathe properly in order to kill.

Sniper sounds a bit too hardcore for your taste then? The other classes don’t make it much easier. The type of weapon you wield, will greatly affect in what kind of terrain you are effective. If you are engaged in urban combat, between narrow buildings, it is far more interesting to attempt melee combat, or to wield a machine gun than it is to wield a simple single shot rifle. If you find your targets to be a decent distance away from you, a rifle starts making a lot more sense again.

The game also features a single tank map, Gumrak. Even though the tank physics are great and highly realistic, this feature does feel lacking. There are only 2 tanks available, and others were promised to be added “shortly after release”, but this has not happened yet. Here, the difficulty level basically hits a brick wall. The page detailing the penetration calculation is over a thousand words alone, not even mentioning the spots with weaker armor, key hit locations or the ammo or fuel locations. Even though I like realism, this is getting slightly too extreme for my taste. If shoot a shell at something, I just kind of expect it to go boom and not requiring me to solve a mathematical theorem first.

RO2 Tank 2

Should you get tired of killing things yourself, you can always opt to play as the commander for your side. As the commander, you must concentrate on leading the team, by giving orders and setting way points. The fun factor largely depends on the other players on the servers. If they choose not to obey, your basically making plans for nobody. You can still call in an artillery strike though, so the time is never entirely wasted.

If you enjoy realistic shooters, or war sims in general, Red Orchestra 2 is a rare gem. Games that carry this much depth have become a rarity in recent years. If you’re not a hardcore FPS fan, this is not the game for you. If you do master the gameplay, the satisfaction to be had far exceeds that of the simple team deathmatch gameplay the more popular shooters currently offer. Tripwire has done a good job at fixing the bugs and with the recent price drop the game is certainly worth the purchase.

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Rating: 9.7/10 (3 votes cast)
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Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad - Review, 9.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

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  1. […] Interactive and Antimatter Games are happy to announce that Red Orchestra 2′s Reinforcement Update Pack is now available for download on Steam. This Update Pack […]

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