Well I finally got my act together and here is my long-awaited and long-outdated review of Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad. First off, just to goad Tim a little, I will say that I had perfectly good reasons for not being able to get this done sooner! Plus a diary of my slow adventures through it like I am doing with Gears of War 3 would have just been silly. Because every single mission is the same.
Blast! I meant to say something nice first! Otherwise it won’t make any sense… Okay, take a chill pill and let’s get started.
I want to point out that Tim made me aware that a lot of people/reviews didn’t like the campaign in Red Orchestra 2 and that the game focuses more on the multiplayer. Whether or not this is an feeling actually shared by most of the people who have played this game or not is, however, irrelevant because I have formed my own opinion on both of these game modes. As such I will divide my review up into two parts! First reviewing the campaign and secondly reviewing the mutliplayer!
First off, a little about the game (for those of you who know nothing about it). It’s an FPS set in World War 2. Now I realise that’s a bit done to death but this time the perspective is changed and you either play as the Russians or the Germans. Also it’s NOT a CoD, Medal of Honour or Battlefield style game. It’s been termed “hyper-realistic” for good reason. You have to take sooo much care to avoid being it and killed… instantly… by everyone… Taking cover (in a Gears of War style) behind walls and then blind firing and popping up occasionally from a first person perspective is really weird at first. As is the bullets falling while travelling and how difficult it is to hit enemies at ranges of over 200m. But you get used to it and then you see just how well done it has been! That is of course after you take all the bullets out of your face…
Now I make no secret of it that I like games with a good singleplayer or co-op campaign. I have only once bought a game because of my interest in the multiplayer (Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood). Excluding LoL and WoW… because they clearly don’t count here… So I tend to buy games based on the merit of the singleplayer. Well the singleplayer in Red Orchestra 2 was actually pretty good, at least I enjoyed it! Seriously though, I couldn’t see anything that was particularly bad about the campaign. It wasn’t all that amazing… but it definitely wasn’t bad!
Now of course I can think of bad things about it. The major bad thing is that every single mission is the same. You either defend some objectives from enemy bots… or you attack some objectives held by enemy bots… Now it’s quite good fun and in no means BAD… but it’s basically multiplayer except with bots and that is NOT what a campaign should be. I would like to draw your attention to the other games of the same genre (of which there are many) which have different play styles through the campaign with variety through every level, games like Battlefield and Call of Duty. Having the singleplayer as what is little more than, like I said, multiplayer with bots will never, ever be an amazing campaign. Unreal Tournament had this style but for the life of me I never once completed any Unreal game because it just got samey and boring.
Of course it would never get samey and boring in Red Orchestra because the game is just too damn short! I swear I managed to beat (on normal difficulty mind you) every single level in under 15 minutes. And that’s even with me getting my face shot off every time I so much as looked round any wall or piece of cover. So, there are 12 missions (not including tutorials) in the German campaign and if we assume that the level length never varies and that the Russian campaign is the same length then overall that’s about six hours of gameplay… Not a long campaign by any standards.
Despite these problems, it IS good. The graphics and physics are pretty awesome (even on the lowest setting) and the realism is really, really cool and actually pretty unique when you think about it. It really gives the game a really “war-zone” feel where every action counts and every mistake is fatal. Plus you eventually get over the learning curve and actually start killing the enemy it feels really good. Trust me, it’s so damn rewarding when you manage to actually fight back, merely because it was hard in the first place. The dying never really grated either because it was one of those games that inspired a sort of “Well you know what! FUCK YOU!” attitude where you respawn and try and kill the fucker that just killed you.
Now for my thoughts on Multiplayer… Oh boy… Now if singleplayer was hard multiplayer is fucking ridiculous. With about 2000 people on most of. the time it’s not really hard to get games, but those people on are those people who bought Red Orchestra FOR it’s multiplayer. And they WILL kill you. Again. And again. And again. Over the course of about 10 online matches I must’ve died close to a hundred times (felt like a million) and I killed about… 9 people? At least one of which was a team kill. That is probably the worst K:D I’ve ever had in any game ever.
I did enjoy the multiplayer, and I have heard a lot of people talking about how awesome it it. But frankly when you spend most of your time either dead or running back to the action (spawn points are STUPIDLY far away from the fighting) you just don’t really get into the game. I’m going to be honest, it IS good! But the learning curve for it is so ridiculously steep you either have to be a wizard or spend hour after hour perfecting the way to shoot through 3 walls and round a corner to ever be a match for the people who play it. It’s a shame but that level of difficulty will send most people packing, because no one wants to be reminded of how useless they are at taking cover for the bazillionth time.
So overall, a good game. Neither the multiplayer or the singleplayer is amazing, but the style is unique enough that the game feels special and good.
Also keep an eye on THIS SPACE for the upcoming videos of me playing a Red Orchestra campaign mission and one of me playing multiplayer.