|Dev: Tripwire Interactive|
|Pub: Tripwire Interactive|
|Release: September 13, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence|
The single-player campaign, meanwhile, is quite frankly a mess. It's divided into two parts, a German campaign followed by a Russian one. (Like most other games that allow you to play as a WWII-era German, RO2 is devoid of explicit Nazi references.) All in all, it feels like playing a multiplayer game with bots.
The campaign takes place on the very same maps as the multiplayer, which doesn't really work—in a shooter game, multiplayer maps should be like a playground, whereas single-player maps should offer a somewhat guided experience. Even fully open-world games make sure that missions unfold along a path that makes sense. In RO2, on massive maps, you're given a series of objectives to complete, which usually amount to "clear this building, and then that building, and then that other building." The best bet is usually to just follow your teammates, but before you learn the maps, it's easy to end up in the wrong area, with no enemies to shoot while the rest of your team handles the objectives.
The team-based nature of the missions is also a problem, especially considering that co-op functionality hasn't been added yet and the A.I. is spotty at best. Whenever you die, you don't go back to a checkpoint; instead, you're reincarnated as someone else on your squad. Factor in the steady stream of reinforcements to replace dead comrades, and death is practically consequence-free, at least until you try higher difficulties and can actually run out of teammates before reinforcements arrive.
It's clear that the developers started with a multiplayer experience, and then tweaked it to make a campaign, rather than building a campaign from the ground up. Constantly respawning makes sense in deathmatch, where the point is to kill the enemy more often than he kills you; it doesn't work in a single-player mode, where the point is just to make it to the end of the level. A standard checkpoint system would have been far preferable.
After the first mission, you're given a quick tutorial on the commands you can give your fellow soldiers. Since I don't have the patience to play on higher difficulties, I honestly didn't use them much—as stupidly as the A.I. characters can act, they usually at least stay in the action and try to kill bad guys. But nonetheless, I found these controls pretty clunky; they require you to hold one of two buttons and then click your commands on the screen. I much preferred the simplicity of Rainbow Six Vegas and Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, where you have only a couple of guys under your command and only a few instructions to give.
In addition, the single-player campaign forces you to appreciate the unrealistic things that most FPSes do. It's simply frustrating to die after one or two shots from an enemy you can't even see, even if that's what would really happen in battle. HUDs keep track of stats for you and let you focus on the parts of the game that are actually fun. Objective and enemy markers keep you from having to roam around aimlessly to find what you're looking for, and prevent you from shooting friendlies by accident. And so on.
Presentation-wise, RO2 is serviceable, but won't turn any heads. The graphics look a bit dated, especially if your machine can run them in "ultra" mode. Sometimes, objects seem to go right through each other. The sound effects feel realistic, however, and the dynamic music is a perfect fit.
Red Orchestra 2 is an immensely ambitious game, and in some ways, it's even a groundbreaking one. However, its focus on realism will turn off fans of arcade shooters, and the developers will have to do some patching before everything truly clicks. If you want a hardcore multiplayer FPS that thoroughly immerses you in the Battle of Stalingrad, this could be the game for you—someday.
CCC Contributing Writer