War enthusiasts, here you go. Gamers tired of bunny hopping and dolphin diving (this is a thing), here you also go. Red Orchestra 2, a game that shows a more slower-pace of infantry warfare, is a game that you just might want to take a look at.
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, is a sequel to the realistic first-person shooter that came out in 2006, which in turn was a stand-alone game based on an Unreal Tournament mod, all by Tripwire Interactive. All three titles eschew the twitchy, close-quarters combat found in Call of Duty titles and Brink (to name a couple examples), and instead opt for a slower, yet still intense, pace. Set during World War II, the game pits the Soviets and the Axis against each other in a war for the Russian front.
A first-person shooter, Red Orchestra 2 has a much slower pace than other games on the market these days. Running blindly forward will likely get you shot at, and since it almost always takes just one shot to take you down, this is not a smart tactic. Sure, if you're hit in a non-vital location you can bandage it up, but when these run out your only option is to slowly bleed out. And forget about firing from the hip: there isn't even a crosshair in the game available unless you bring up your iron-sights.
The single player campaign, which should be avoided, puts you in the roles of both sides of the war. The campaign is spotty at best, with some well-produced cutscenes but little else. The biggest failing is that of the AI, which would completely fail to notice you two feet away, ignore orders, run through firefights, take cover on the wrong side of walls, or do any number of things that made no sense. At one point a Russian soldier ran by me (an Axis soldier), ran back in front of me, did a circle, then took cover behind the nearest wall before I shot him. I just don't know what was going on.
The campaign does do one very important thing and that is teach you the basics of playing the game. Things like how to dive to the ground, taking cover, taking control of one of the very-well-rendered tanks, and how to be a squad leader or a commander, who gets special abilities mid-battle. There is very little more demoralizing than known an artillery strike is inbound on your location. In fact, the suppression system of the game blurs your vision when faced with a hail of gunfire or nearby explosion, meaning that morale is a very real thing. It forces you to take cover when faced with a lot of danger, and wait for the feeling to pass before you can shoot a bullet straight again.
Multiplayer is where Red Orchestra 2 shines, as with every game in the series, and where players will likely spend most of their time. When the game gets good, it gets really good, but it also gets hard. Exposing yourself is a good way to get shot by some distant sniper and keep in mind that there are no kill cams here. Cover is your friend, and Red Orchestra 2 does have a cover system in place for this. It's quick and easy to quickly pop your head up and aim, using the cover itself to stabilize your gun, or you can just blind fire randomly, hoping you hit something. The big flaw with the system, I found, was that when ducking behind cover, your gun sticks up due to the way you hold it. This may not seem like a terrible thing, but it makes it really, really easy for snipers to track your location, and in fact makes it better to eschew cover entirely.
Red Orchestra 2's biggest problems all come in one package: lack of polish. There are numerous problems with the game that all look like they resulted from a lack of budget, or time. Animations are jerky at times. Bugs are rampant (I got the achievement for beating the campaign halfway through the first mission). Problems like binding the 'use bandage' button and the 'take cover' button to the same button are a big problem. And even stat tracking is completely broken. Oh, and one thing that really bugs the hell out of me: the Nazis in this game are colored a dusty grey. The Soviets wear clothing that's colored a dusty light-brown. The only real difference is that the Soviets wear hats most of the time, but this isn't always the case. It's frustrating.
Red Orchestra 2 is a game for people who want something that isn't the frantic running and hip-shooting of other war-time multiplayer games. It's got a good look, but the bugs and low-budget presentation can often get in the way of enjoyment. Still, despite some gripes that fans of the original titles may have (for example, the presence of a particular German machine gun that wasn't actually present in the battle of Stalingrad), but these issues are unlikely to get in the way of a good game. A visceral shooter set in a World War that didn't involve bunny-hopping, Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad makes for a pretty good team-based FPS for those who want something a little slower in their gunfights.