Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad

By James Allen 19 Aug 2011 0

Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, developed and published by Tripwire Interactive

August, 1942. They?re shipping us off to Stalingrad to finish off the Russians. Somehow, it feels like we were just here five years ago against the Red Orchestra, but this time high command promises more advanced technology, improved training techniques, and better weapons that will provide further realism. I think getting shot at provides enough realism already.

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Hitler has provided no training tools against automated combatants in this early version of the battle; alas, I must complete my missions against real human foes. The first skirmish is set in the outskirts of town, where I am handed Karabiner 98 and told to assault a military bunker. Weapons are varied, and I have seen limited numbers of other specialties alongside my rifle: the assault soldier with a submachine gun, an elite rifleman, the machine gunner, anti-tank soldier, engineer with explosives, sniper, squad leader (whom squad members can spawn onto), and commander, who can call in artillery strikes and mortar attacks. Unlike the filthy Americans, we actually have to use our iron sights and count our ammunition rounds as they are fired, instead of relying on a display superimposed on our eyeballs. I don?t know how they do it, and frankly I don?t want to know. Our weapons do have a number of advanced features, however. For example, snipers have been given iron sights to engage closer enemies, an oversight that has plagued the role for far too long. Plus, machine gunners will automatically deploy their weapons when prone on the ground or near a window or ledge; it seems silly that they would not have done this before.

Typically, we are given a series of large simultaneous objective areas to attack two at a time, clearly indicated on the miniature map I carry at all times. This tends to concentrate the action (instead of spreading everybody out over all ten objectives), while still giving the attackers a tactical choice. Prudence dictates that we move quickly between areas of cover, which are thankfully plentiful in most areas of the impressively detailed battlefields; it?s nice of the Russians to leave so many things lying around! Since the objectives are so big (usually an entire building), there are plenty of places to hide and ambush the enemy, so careful movement throughout the structure while looking down your iron sights is always a good decision. Combat is very tense: you know the enemy is in the building, but you just don?t know where. Cautious movement makes the battles slower-paced, but the thrill of taking down an enemy is that much sweeter.

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Death is specific: individual body parts can receive damage, and bleeding must be stopped, by using a bandage, before it is too late. Weapons usually give one or two-shot kills, depending on which areas are affected: direct shots to the head or heart result in immediate death, while less lethal injuries can simply slow you down. The Führer has assured us that weapon accuracy is very good: as long as you are stationary and use your sights, your enemy will go down. Each weapon has a specific role: the submachine guns are great for close quarters action, but useless at any sort of distance. Conversely, the bolt-action rifles are appropriate for medium-range engagements, but less desirable up close. Indeed, I must work together with my squad to ensure a total German victory. Despite being in a bombed-out hellhole, the local orchestra still provides us with music that dynamically changes according to our status in the battle. I am told that, as I perform well on the battlefield, new weapons will be shipped into town by our military factories back home.

One of the new tactics that Hitler has gloriously introduced is the use of cover. No longer shall we be shot in the open! I only need to simply approach a wall, window, or any large structure and ?use? it, instantly placing me in a first-person cover situation. From there, I can look down my iron sights, which will instantly pop me above the cover, ready to shoot the enemy. Toggling off iron sights will automatically place me behind the safety of the obstacle again. I can also blind fire my weapon (or grenades), lean around corners, or safely reload. This new training tool is fantastic, especially on defense. Those who are given a machine gun can now cause suppression of enemy units, which makes it very difficult to return fire. However, machine guns must be deployed, so their dominance on the battlefield is not total, as their operators must remain still. Suppression can also be experienced as nearby friendly units are gunned down by the enemy: a worrisome sight, to be sure.

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As I carefully advance through the streets, I sense a sniper?s bullet. Quickly, I run towards the next building and take cover behind a wall. I hear Russian. I crouch below the window and toss a grenade over my head into the room. One loud explosion later, I enter the room to find a mangled corpse on the floor, the target?s leg now permanently removed from the rest of his body. I call for reinforcements to assist me in taking this objective, but one more Russian remains in the area. I move towards the stairs and catch a glimpse of a weapon peeking out at the top. We exchange fire, and he falls down from the second floor. We finally take the hard-fought building and can move on to the final clash. Thankfully, tanks are nowhere to be found in this battle. I hear tales that a single tank can take down entire walls and ceilings of buildings, changing the composition of the battlefield. I?m not a part of the tank battalion, but I hear they have full 3-D interiors and individual crew members suffer damage, instead of resorting to the arcane magic I?ve experienced in other, lesser battles.

The battle is at an end, with our side victorious after taking the last pair of victory locations. The battle was hard fought with many deaths for both sides. The final objective was taken as an ally was engaging an enemy soldier: I came around the side doorway and planted a bullet right in his chest, leaving a stain of red on the wall behind him: a fitting end for the Red Army. I found the battle to be much more accessible to green recruits this time around, if the horrors of war can be considered accessible. Rumor has it that there are nine other locations where we will engage the Russians. The military strategy we used was to control two objectives at a time; I have heard stories of battles where each soldier is given one life per objective, and more open conflicts where kills, and not territory, are most important. They say that the full force of the Russian army will come September 13th; they shall meet their ultimate doom then.

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Preview written by: James Allen, Staff Writer


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