Preview: Red Orchestra 2: Rising Storm

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In 2011, Tripwire’s Red Orchestra 2 stunned FPS fans and garnered many accolades.  Among those accolades was PC Gamer’s Mulitplayer Shooter of the Year and, of course, a prestigious 4.5 out of 5 and Game of the Year Runner-Up from this very writer.  Now, Tripwire is expanding RO2 with a stand-alone expansion focused on the Pacific campaign of World War II titled Rising Storm.  Let’s take a look at some of the changes and features we got to see in the beta.

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Back to World War II

I know that for many gamers, the World War II setting has become a bit overused.  Tripwire did a fantastic job of breathing life into the genre with Red Orchestra 2.  Then, it seemed everyone migrated from the European Campaign of WWII to the Pacific Campaign.  Call of Duty: World At War and the miniseries (and preceding novel) The Pacific show us just how gritty and brutal the pacific battles of WWII really were.  Tripwire has obviously been aware of this bias that gamers may have against WWII shooters and once again reinvigorated the genre.  Rising Storm has been interesting to follow, because unless you are on the Tripwire forums, there hasn’t been a lot of coverage or details about the game’s new innovations.

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Unbalanced? Yes

History students will tell you that during the Pacific campaign, both sides had very different weaponry and tactics.  The Japanese were more cunning, relying on guerrilla techniques to attack the Allies.  The Allied forces had heavier firepower, flamethrowers and better automatic weapons.  As you can imagine, this setting makes for a difficult and interesting dynamic for developers to create some semblance of multiplayer balance.  Rather than shy away from these details and give players an even playing field, Tripwire decided to run at them kamikaze style.  Yes, the sides are unbalanced, some weapons are more powerful, and the tactics can be downright dirty, but that makes for a more tense and historically accurate game.  Japanese soldiers can take advantage of unsuspecting troops by laying a grenade as a mine.  Mixing that booby-trapped grenade with the highly coveted melee Katana can be a fiendishly clever trick.  Using a kamikaze charge also causes the Allies’ morale to waiver and allows you to take on a bit more damage.  The Japanese soldiers, however, are not the only ones with tricks up their sleeves.  Given the unique sound of a Garand that has run out of ammo, you have the ability to falsely trigger that sound and lure covered soldiers out into the open.  All in all, flamethrowers are not matched well against mortars, but it all depends on the skill level of those wielding them (as well as the tactics employed).

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A Different Kind of Meat Grinder

Taking a cue from the Game of the Year Edition of Red Orchestra 2, Rising Storm uses the same server mechanic that allows players to tailor the game type.  Sure, Red Orchestra is known for its depth of simulation and historical accuracy, but if that’s not your style, you can turn it off.  Game servers can have ‘Realism’ mode or ‘Action’ mode turned on to suit your desired experience.  Both game modes make battles out to be a meat grinder, but the experiences are very different.  Realism is more careful and calculated, where Action mode offers the run-and-gun / get popped / repeat mechanic with which other FPS players may be more comfortable.  Either way, the game brings a tension that can be attributed to the older weaponry but is more accurately accredited to the talented team behind the game.  Sadly, we won’t see a single-player campaign in this one, as we did with RO2, but let’s face it, the multiplayer is where  this game shines.  Given the new maps, new weapons and new strategies to use, Red Orchestra 2: Rising Storm is a steal at $19.99—especially when you factor in the fact that all of the original Red Orchestra 2 multiplayer content will be packaged in with the final release!

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