This review promises not to take up your entire day, but Red Orchestra 2 likely will if this genre is your bag of cats. If you loved Day of Defeat, or the original Red Orchestra, or any World War 2 FPS game that sought to be, at least as much as was reasonable and possible at the time, an accurate re-creation of the weaponry and combat of the time, than this a game you’ll want to play.
I was going to do a review in two main sections, one for the single player campaign(s) and one for the multiplayer but quite frankly the single player is a brief footnote in terms of its importance in this particular genre. It illuminates the game mechanics and hones one’s skills, but the lasting enjoyment is found in the multi-player.
That being said, I don’t want to diminish or disparage the single player campaign in any way, it just isn’t that important in this type of game. These types of FPS games, in my humble opinion, are meant to be played online and the enjoyment comes from sinking hours into bettering yourself against others in a series of online matches. Ok, so now what about the single player campaign? Well, it’s semi-educational, and what’s more, worth playing. It has a great series of cut scenes detailing to Battle of Stalingrad (the lead up to and including) and is a very interesting historical walkthrough of sorts (without nitpicking any historical inaccuracies, consider it a dramatization). If and when you get the time to give it a whirl it’s worth your while but, as I mentioned, multiplayer is the draw.
This FPS is definitely not for everyone though, single player or multi-player. It strives to be as accurate as it possibly can, with solid bullet physics, loading/reloading of weapons, very quick deaths when you get shot or the ever possible bleeding to death scenario, and the near mandatory proper use of cover and prone positions to avoid getting shot. There are no second kick at the can in this one. Chances are, if you take a bullet, you’re dead. That might place the game too squarely in the hardcore difficulty category for some but the experience is refreshing in its unforgiving bent.
The maps in the multi-player are great. They’re well laid out, have plenty of places in which to hide and ambush enemies, and the game objectives are more involved and interesting than your standard death match or team death match Modus Operandi for online FPS games. The game also features an achievement system (which I’m told is broken, but I have seen no evidence thereof) and the ability to level up game classes and weapons. The response of the weapons themselves is great and I have had very few, if any, instances where the old “I could swear I shot that guy” hit box issue reared its ugly head. I pleasantly note as an aside that you don’t spend most of the time shell-shocked or getting grenades thrown in your general direction, which is a welcome change. The squad design is intriguing in that there is genuine interconnectedness between the various classes. They do not exist as islands unto themselves. One role may require the particular skill/ability of another role to fulfil its function, and another role may bolster that of those around him.
In addition to these things, the game offers tanks. You have the option (on some maps) of driving, or being a crew member in, a tank. There is also a specific role available on those maps whose purpose in life is ridding you of those pesky tanks roaming around. Again, a good example of an interconnectedness between roles, a mosaic made up for the different roles on offer coming together to form a more complete picture.
This is the part of the review where someone would throw up ratings out of 10 (a la IGN or PCGamer) in various categories but if you’ve ever read anything I’ve written I rarely come to that point. In my own way however I’ll give you some numbers (out of 10) in various categories I’ve devised:
Is it well made? – 8
Should I buy it? – 6.5-7 (price might be a touch high, could do with being $10 less across the board)
Can I replay it? – 8.5
Overall – 8/10
Parting words: Not too shabby; worth a shake; good replacement for whatever WW2 FPS you’re currently playing.