This is going to be one of those not-so-easy explanations for a review, so I'll explain my opinion side-by-side with giving this game the honest review that it rightfully deserves. If you are a fan or interested in this game, stick with me for this one.
As a game reviewer/designer, it is a basic rule that you play all types of games and see them through. This means that you have to play games and genres that you would not normally play, and keep playing a game that you do not like. (The explanation on my not liking this game is coming.) Now this is not saying that I do not like the FPS genre as a whole, as I am a huge fan of many games. What I mean is that this game is more of a simulation FPS game, and perhaps is a little too hardcore for my liking. I am going to try to do this game good review-wise while giving my opinion and hopefully making everyone happy. So the goal is that if you are considering this game, then this will help you understand what you are getting instead of solely how I feel about this game.
So as you can see I was asked to review Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad (RO2 from now on) and decided that a venture into an FPS that I have never looked at or tried sounded exciting. I have heard some outcries from fans about how amazing this game is, calling it better than the well-known FPS games like Modern Warfare, Battlefield 3, and Counter-Strike. So I figured I would put these comments to the test and give it a go.
Now if you have read the reviews for games that I normally pick out myself, you know I usually have a huge backstory about the developer and reason why I picked the game. The most I have on this yiyle is that it was created after a mod that was made for the Unreal Engine and the team continued the game. This is all off the Wiki, and looking at the game I saw that it is an indie-like title (indie being not overly known and not majorly funded) that I love to play. I even saw a person comment that this game was created with less money than it took EA to make one Battlefield commercial. My love for indie games comes from the fact that to succeed, the company has to really innovate to make up for the fact that they cannot drop massive amounts of money into a game. This tends to make the game more interesting when it comes to game mechanics.
Jumping into this game, I was immediately hit by what this company did to make their game unique right in the tutorials. They did not make your usual gimmick to sell this game, or some strange art choice. They went for the direction of realism that most games do not put into their shooters. You start on a rifle range as a German in training for a WW2 style battle. Really like most FPS games set in the WW2 era, it is more about the feel and combat mechanics of the shooter. As I went through the various weapons trainings, I felt like I was playing the Microsoft Flight Simulator version of a shooter. You can aim your weapon with the normal iron sight, but you also can hold your breath for each shot. Now add the standing, crouch, and prone positions for better accuracy. You can also add the bullet physics where the farther the shot is, the more you have to compensate for gravity. Single shot makes firing rifles more accurate than auto, and the sniper rifle scope can be adjusted for longer shots but it does not auto adjust. Remember how machine gun barrels over heat in a game? Well in this game they can blow out, leaving you with the duty to replace them.
This is where the game started to lose me myself. I guarantee that some people out there want to buy RO2 for the sniper and machine gun mechanics right off the bat. Personally for me there is a level of realism that stops me from wanting to play a game. I am going to brush off this feeling because I know some of you would love to personally adjust your sniper scope for a better shot after every shot. Just be warned that this is only the weapons level of detail, but really no game-wise issue exists with this system here. Complex is not a bad thing to many people.
Jumping into a fight, I get to use some of the skills that I have learned and see how the game plays. This game functions much like a king-of-the-hill type game mixed with objectives. The map is broken down into areas that a team can control, the team with the most people will push the area to be controlled by their side, and the objective is to take control of the map. So I jumped into combat and started shooting and helping my team out as much as possible.
This is where the next level of detail hit me. If you are a fan of the Tom Clancy games that subscribe to the fact that it is really easy to kill a person, so does this game. I was getting shot a few times and getting killed really fast. I am not going to say I was rage quitting or anything, but I am a person who likes to take a bullet or two before I go down. Now if you look at all the complexity of this game, using all the detail levels added into the weapons gets a lot harder. Who has time to adjust your scope when you know that the next bullet will kill you? If you do not get killed fast, this game does use regenerating health from what I see. The issue then arises that you can bleed out and you have to apply a bandage to not die when you get low on the regeneration bar. Still I do not take this as an issue with the game. I have no doubt that people are installing it as they read.
So the next question is this: are you a fan of cover based shooting? Yes, RO2 also includes the ability to hide behind cover, to shoot over it, and to blind shoot over it. The issue then arises that cover based shooting seems best done from a 3rd person game. In this game, you end up looking down the side of a wall while in cover. It is hard to gage the height of your character and really know if you are behind a wall or if your head is over the wall. Blind fire over a wall is actually blind for the people who really want to see what it would be like in real life. Also you are questioning if popping up to take an aimed shot is really the best idea in the middle of a bullet storm.
This is where the complexity killed the game and will force me to give it negative points. The button that gives you a bandage and makes you go into cover happens to be the same button. The game by default picked to go into cover multiple times over using a bandage to keep myself alive. I have also noticed that in some areas around walls and by windows, if you are not in the perfect position that the game will not look over walls or blind fire when you want it. Cover is nice, but a lean button or the crouch command would have worked to replace it.
I then got a surprise when I was shown the ability to control my squad in a mission. It was a nice addition to be able to tell mindless computer companions to do stuff rather than sit around and let me do all the work. The computer is controlled by a radial menu that I was happy to see had mouse input instead of a select wheel. The issue then came with the tutorial telling me to push a button to select my next group instead of using hot keys to get what group I want directly. Regardless this was a good addition to the game.
At this point I was getting tired of playing with computers and decided to play online. I had a feeling from the start I was going to have Counter-Strike syndrome, where the veterans and fans of this game were going to show me how much I was not ready to play against people online. Quickly I got my assumption validated, so if you want me to admit it then here you go: I was destroyed quickly. I have found a game that I am not good at. Really, it hurts to say that, and it's probably the reason my online time with this game was short. Competing with people in a game with a close community like this means you have to master the game before you can really have fun. I feel I am far behind when it comes to the FPS simulation game that I could not continue till I was happy with how I am doing. I love to try as many games as I can, and just mastering a game is hard with the fall season coming. There are too many games to try to commit to just one.
So who would want a game like this? Well if you play an FPS and you think it is not realistic enough, take a look at Red Orchestra 2. This game might not be for me, but I understand that people want detail like this. This game did have a bit of a hard start with bugs, but they are slowly being fixed as time goes on. This game is okay single player, but like most games it is mainly an online game. Because of some bugs and an AI that could use some help, I will give it 3.5 out of 5. Like I said, if you want a WW2 shooter simulation, then you will want to take a look at this game. It is not a bad game, just really complex and fits a category that many games have not.
Written by Teg