Guest Author - James Shea
"Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45" is an "accessibly realistic" World War 2 game centered around the Eastern Front between Germany and the USSR. It is considered one of the most realistic FPS games, and with good reason. Despite the aged graphics and the fact that the game started off as a mod for Unreal Tournament, Red Orchestra has held up well and is worth its current low price on Steam.
Red Orchestra is a multiplayer-centric game. The game's "class system" is fairly simple - instead of being drastically different, it just affects what guns you start with. Rifleman are the basic class and are equipped with bolt-action rifles. Assault Troopers have SMGs, which are better at close range but worse at distance. Specialized roles like snipers, machine gunners, and squad leaders also exist, but in very limited supply - only one or two players per side gets to be one, and it's first-come-first-serve. However, the classes are very well balanced due to how guns are handled - no one gun is "better" than any other.
The game is heavily cover-centric. Soldiers can die in one hit, but every hit does locational damage even if you survive. Guns are inaccurate when you're standing, but crouching or going prone greatly increases your accuracy. The guns handle really well - instead of being permanently bolted to your frame, they sort of wave around as you aim them, making it feel more like you're actually moving an object rather than just rotating your body. You can also aim using ironsights, which is necessary for long-range shooting, but this also makes you move the gun more slowly. Machine guns are powerful and can maintain heavy rates of fire, but must be deployed to be used - which makes the gunner vulnerable when he's on the move. Overall, the game really feels natural and immersive, and while it's "difficult", it also allows the player to adapt pretty quickly once they learn how the game works.
Vehicles are also included in some maps, ranging from transports to tanks. In keeping with the game's theme, there's no third-person camera when in a vehicle. Drivers have to either peer out from a tiny visor, or open a hatch and look out of it - which allows them to see much farther, but also makes them an easy target for snipers or random gunfire. Gunners have the same choice - either using the tank's periscope or popping up out of the turret. This limited vision balances tanks - in many games, it was easy to see when someone was getting near your tank and gun them down before they reached you. In Red Orchestra, tanks are powerful and destructive, but also very vulnerable to ambushes and sneak attacks.
The game's graphics are both incredibly immersive and somewhat dated. The soldiers on both sides are immediately recognizable by their uniforms - green for the Germans, yellow for the Russians - but are also capable of being camouflaged by hiding in tall grass. The game is gory, but in a realistic sense - grenades blow off limbs and spatter blood, but it's done in as tasteful a manner as is possible for a guy getting blown up. The maps are gritty and complex, allowing a lot of flanking strategies and traps. The graphics do the job they were meant to do, but lack the polish and luster of more modern games. However, the design on the whole is spot-on, and the game isn't as unnecessarily shiny or hard-to-see as modern games are, either.
Overall, Red Orchestra is probably the go-to game for realistic FPS games. It's not as hostile or "realistic" as ARMA or Operation Flashpoint, but it rewards realistic behavior and creates a very palpable atmosphere. If you're looking for an FPS that will challenge you, and don't mind that it's hard or ugly, then RO is a great game to pick up.
Red Orchestra - PC was Purchased by us Through Steam with our own money