reviews\ Sep 21, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad Review


Who says PC Gaming is dead? Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad is the follow up to 2006’s Red Orchestra, which achieved critical acclaim for the level of realism in the game. Its successor lives up to its impressive pedigree. It does so by using the Unreal 3 engine to render the game’s impressive graphic system – it's certainly at least on par with current generation shooters like Call of Duty: Black Ops and Battlefield 2.

Realism and attention to detail are the name of the game here – the example that may seem small to some: the interiors of the tanks were painstakingly replicated, to the point where the developers only had time to include 2 in the game. Developer Tripwire not only recreated World War 2 Stalingrad, but they filled it with menace and foreboding, every step echoing off buildings, the crunch of snow under foot sending shivers up your spine.

This game is brutally real – there’s no health system to speak of and no ammo indicators, so you need to manually check your ammunition before each fight. One hit to a vital organ and you’re dead. Minor wounds can be bandaged, but leave those unchecked for too long and you’re done, as well. Even the simplest tasks require patience and attention to detail – this is no run and gun game like Call of Duty or even Battlefield. While this may sound slow and fussy to some – Red Orchestra 2 is immensely rewarding when you do your job correctly.

The game also emphasizes teamwork – from vehicles to out in the field. It is imperative that you work together with your team. They need to not only watch your back in every situation, but be your eyes and ears as well. Vehicles in particular take a massive amount of skill to pilot effectively, but doing so has a massive payoff, as they can very easily turn the tide in a battle. This is so true that various servers either emphasize tank combat or infantry with very little middle ground – so we recommend either getting proficient with the vehicles or steering clear altogether.

Character progression, unlike Call of Duty, feels largely irrelevant. New perks and gear have virtually no impact on the battle. While this does combat the feeling that long time players feel like super soldiers on the field, it’s not very satisfying that a newcomer to the game can pick it up and one shot a long time veteran. Though, many players may find this to be a plus – this is largely a judgment call you’re going to have to make for yourself.

All of that being said, Red Orchestra 2 is massively unforgiving to new players because of the level of realism in this game. Until you learn that, no, you can’t just go charging down a main choke point of a battlefield, you’re going to be eating dirt. A lot. Once you learn this vital lesson, you’ll be sniping newbies who decide to stick their head around the corner for a few extra seconds in no time.

The one shortcoming this game does have is the campaign. While there’s nothing particularly wrong with it, there’s just nothing here to write home about. If you’re new to the Red Orchestra series, the campaign is a great primer to the realism of the combat. Otherwise, assume the campaign showcases exactly how hard fought the battle for Stalingrad was, but stick to the rather intense multiplayer.

Overall Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, while having a steep learning curve, is a game that will have you on the edge of your seat every second that you play. It’s one of those games that gets you so absorbed in the action that you’ll find yourself straining your ears trying to hear approaching enemies, flinching at rounds flying overhead, and celebrating every minor, yet hard-earned victory in a match. If you ignore the rather forgettable campaign, this is one of the best shooters of 2011. In a sea of yearly Call of Duty games, Red Orchestra 2 is a breath of fresh air. Don’t skip out on this one, folks.

Dustin Steiner is Gamezone’s eSports Correspondent! Follow him on Twitter @SteinerDustin


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Dustin Steiner Former GameZone's eSports Correspondent.
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