Red Orchestra 2: Heroes Of Stalingrad Preview
Tripwire’s Death Simulator Returns
©2011 Nicholas Laborde
As for all other audiences? They most likely have no idea the game even exists.
For those who aren’t familiar, indie developer Tripwire Interactive‘s Red Orchestra series is a World War Two-based first person shooter, with an emphasis on minute detail and providing the most realistic simulation of dying in a combat zone.
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad is just under a month away, and OXCGN had the privilege of being one of the first Western outlets to get hands-on with the title.
Heroes of Stalingrad
In this build of the title, currently in beta, only multiplayer was available, and this wasn’t some special ‘journalist build'; we were dropped right in with veteran beta testers. Tripwire, in the email, bluntly doubted the skills of its new participants, and said that if need be, I could tell other players I was a journalist in order for them to ‘put on a show’.
No such thing happened. (Me: 1, Tripwire: 0)
As the name implies, Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad focuses on the Battle of Stalingrad, taking place from August 23rd, 1942 to February 2nd, 1943. A lot of what you will see in this preview is implied if you know your history, but of course it’s still explained for those who don’t.
Two factions are playable, with those quite obviously being the Soviets and the Germans. Each has all of the weaponry available up to that time, with multiple classes to choose from.
Each varies slightly across the two available game modes, Firefight and Territories. (And to clear up the issue of anyone who may have been wondering why the game features an MP44, it’s not what you think – it’s an Mkb42, so you can put your historical accuracy worries to rest!)
Firefight is your standard Team Deathmatch game type, with an unlimited amount of slots for players in each weapon class; whereas Territories can only support a set number of players in each respective discipline. For example, there can only be one Marksman (sniper), but several Riflemen.
As the amount of players in a Territories match increases, more positions such as Commander and Engineer emerge, as the increased chaos calls for tanks and more battlefield diversity.
Yet even when the game reaches sixty-four players, it doesn’t feel overwhelming; it’s a sort of refined chaos. All in the best of ways, of course, ensuring that you don’t die the entire time.
NOT appealing to a wider audience
Maps vary in size and functionality. There comes a time where you’ll be in the close-quarters combat of Apartments, a run-down apartment complex that the Russians are tasked with defending; other times, you’ll find yourself fighting on Fallen Heroes, the most iconic map of Stalingrad to gamers, and one of the largest maps available, providing some of the most intense firefights around.
These are just two of the four maps available in the current build of the game, and each are characters of their own. Learning how to adapt in these environments is crucial to survival.
• Red Orchestra 2 screenshot slideshow
Do I want to be a standard bolt action rifleman, since there won’t be close-quarters combat? Should I be a machine gunner and pick off the ones that try to charge across the open? Why not don an Assault class with a submachine gun and get up close and personal with those snipers?
The amount of player choice in Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad is phenomenal, and when everyone works together as a team, it’s a beautiful recreation of one of the most brutal battles in history. And by beautiful, I mean all-around badass.
Gameplay in general has received an overhaul, but the core Red Orchestra experience is still the same. Bodily/limb-specific damage is back again, but now with the ability to save yourself with a bandage.
Get shot in the heart? Perform basic first aid and you’ll be back in the action! Ed.: Due to misconception, we would like to clarify that that statement was sarcasm. Heart shots are one-shots. Many wounds can be fatal and cause you to slowly bleed out, spurring one of the strangest animations I’ve ever seen; I can’t even begin to imagine what the mocap studio was like on that day.
It’s an overall well-done system, and warns you to act a little more tactful.
A key feature in the line of death simulation that did not make a return is the ability for your weapon to get shot out of your hands; from my experience, this equates to certain wounds not allowing you to fire your weapon.
An example of which caused me to take a rifle shot right in my shoulder, and as a result I couldn’t fire my weapon.
In a perfect world I’d assume the logical reason behind this is because the recoil would completely demolish your wounded shoulder, and as a result you can’t fight; if this is the reason, then it’s officially Me: 1, Tripwire: 1, but in all reality it was most likely a coincidental bug.
The final major addition to gameplay is that of a first-person cover system, and it’s done very well. Nearly anything that looks like it could be used as cover, can most likely be used as cover. Simply hit the left control key and you’ll snap right in.
My personal favorite part of this is the blindfire mechanic, which I must applaud for being the first game to truly make it blindfire; you can’t see over what you’re shooting, thusly emulating true blindfire.
While the beta is far from a final build, a few specific orchestral pieces accompany both the menu and your playtime at key points, and I already want to buy the soundtrack.
Deep, riveting symphonies inspire you to trudge onward through even the most impossible of fights, and even simple things such as the main menu are made entertaining.
As close to Stalingrad as you’d want to get
I only have one specific bone to pick with this game; the toilets don’t function. Where did the soldiers relieve themselves? It’s an issue that needs to be addressed. Ed.: Tripwire have confirmed functioning toilets will appear as paid DLC.
Regardless of the lack of toiletries, Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad is one of my most anticipated games of 2011.
Not only is it bringing back a classic, refined experience, but it takes it even further with a campaign, and cooperative play.
Tripwire have another surprise hit on their hands, and you can get your hands on the death experience beginning September 13th. In the meantime, check out our exclusive screenshot gallery below!
©2011 Nicholas Laborde
• Red Orchestra 2 screenshot gallery