I’m a big fan of WWII games, particularly those set in the Pacific theatre of war. We’ve played a ton of games set in Europe, and there was never much focus paid to the other side of the world. Games like Medal of Honor: Rising Sun and Call of Duty: World at War manages to satisfy my hunger for war in the sweltering heat of the Pacific.
Rising Storm is a standalone expansion from the original Red Orchestra 2, an online team-based WWII FPS that provides a more authentic and realistic experience of a battle. Weapons have ridiculously high recoil (realistic), so running and firing point blank will most likely get you killed. Stay low behind cover, and keep a mental count of your ammunition. This time, you have a condensed mode called Action which provides a faster paced of gameplay. You unlock more gametypes and weapons as you progress your Honor, similar to a leveling up system.
In Rising Storm, you fight it out in a variety of day and night maps recreated from real-life pivotal battles. Iwo Jima is my particular favourite, and the thrill of holding off an Allied invasion on the beach rekindled the nostalgia I had with Battlefield 1942. Both sides of the conflict have different and deadly tools in their arsenal. The Americans have the Flamethrower class, a very effective method of flushing out the enemy from cover. On the other hand, the Japanese have the famed Banzai charge, a war cry that suppresses the enemy when activated. If you’re in possession of a Katana, a Banzai charge combined with a well-timed slash can slice off your enemy’s limbs. You can also lay booby traps on the ground, perfect for holding off defence lines that have been broken through. Both sides have class limits to avoid a huge army of flame-wielding psychos or katana-charging meat sacks. It all provides a well-balanced experience for both sides, and the graphics are gorgeous (but there are some texture pop-ups here and there).
Here’s the problem that the game fails to address at the present moment: like the original base game, it’s severely lacking in players in servers populated mostly with bots. It would have been so much more better when you’re playing with real people. Being the Commander or Squad Leader of your team was a mixed bag; it only works when your side plays the teamwork game and my experience so far proves otherwise. I earlier mentioned the Honor system, which unlocks gameplay modes and weapons for use. While this will encourage players to play on, it would be better to have everything unlocked off the bat since it doesn’t work well in an online FPS game that barely has players around.
Server browser results at launch, hopefully it gets more players in time. At point of writing I can’t find a server in my region.
The UI is also cluttered when brought up, and having a clearer interface on how the Commander system works would be better despite going through Training. It also has beautiful Japanese folk music that doesn’t really fit in the midst of combat.
Overall, at a price of $15 it offers a great expansion that more gamers need to take a look at and try out for a more realistic experience. You can’t fault Tripwire Interactive for the lukewarm reception to Rising Storm; they made a solid multiplayer game that caters to a niche audience in today’s hold-down fire and sprint audience. It has its flaws, but the game deserves much more attention than simply another forgotten gem. Hopefully the low price can draw more people towards Rising Storm.