Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 Review

The game Red Orchestra began as a WWII mod to Unreal Tournament 2004. It gained popularity quickly after winning NVIDIA’s “$1,000,000 Make Something Unreal” contest. Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 (RO) is a standalone follow-up that is available in the store, or via Steam download. It is, without a doubt, one of the most realistic First Person Shooters available. The movement of the character, firing of weapons, and use of vehicles are so realistic RO easily surpasses the other WWII competitors like Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield 2. The problem is that this realism has its price in the gameplay. The pace of the game is slowed down and the intensity that often surrounds FPS games practically disappears. However, these negative aspects do not outweigh the overall superb gameplay and exciting graphics. RO is truly a fun game to play, but you will need to get used to the realism if you are really going to enjoy the experience.

One of the most distinguishable features of RO that demonstrates the game’s commitment to realism is the rifle firing. In your typical FPS it’s one click for one shot. In RO it’s a whole different ballgame with double-click rifle firing. The first click will fire the round, and a second click will reset the bolt on the rifle. This feature alone is more realistic than the average the FPS, but RO actually takes the realism a step further and removes the crosshair. Aiming with the rifle or machinegun requires you to look down the sight, without the aid of a crosshair. Not only that, but you must ‘bring up’ the rifle to even look down the sights. The rest of the time you are literally, shooting from the hip (unless you are in the prone position, of course). The only weapons available with crosshairs are sniper rifles and artillery. All of a sudden, playing as a rifleman becomes a whole lot more complex, and this is where the problems start. The double-click rifle firing seems to get a bit tedious after a few hours and becomes an almost automatic reflex instead of a unique aspect of the game. The removal of the crosshair, on the other hand, is a welcome challenge for any intermediate or experienced FPS player. So although RO went the extra mile to be as realistic as possible, the double-click seems to be more of an annoyance than anything else. Furthermore, it’s easy to see how the intensity of the gameplay is affected when you think about double-clicking through a clip and then reloading. All of a sudden running around every corner and dashing into every building becomes a likely suicide.

Selecting your class of character pretty much follows in line with every FPS out there. Choose your side, and choose a class. One annoying aspect, that reminds you of Team Fortress, is that the number of players per class is limited by the map. Unfortunately this means you might not be able to hop into a server on the fly and choose your favorite class, which can be a little frustrating at times. To make matters worse, you may find that you’re stuck with a class of character that can’t man a vehicle. This is perhaps much more frustrating than the class limitation. Again, the push for realism, in limiting the ability of classes to use vehicles, results in frustration and a general reduction of intensity in the gameplay. Rather than spawn and immediately have all players jump into vehicles, and race off to the front lines, you wind up with a gaggle of men running around wondering who’s going to be able to drive. Perhaps the only way to combat this type of frustration in RO is to embrace the realism and begin to play a little slower. Take your time to choose a character, and at the spawn, watch and maybe even follow your teammates for awhile. You will find that embracing the realism for RO, by changing your strategy and gameplay, will alleviate the frustration. It still may not fix the fact that some CS-style excitement is missing, but it should help you to keep from getting killed every 2 seconds.