In an effort to not get ahead of myself, I should mention to the uninformed that Rising Storm is a stand-alone expansion to Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad; a game that is already loved by a good chunk of the hardcore PC shooter crowd. So to anyone who has previously played that game but for some reason hasn’t picked up Rising Storm yet, just know that it is RO2 but it takes place in the Pacific Theater. This allows it to cater an entirely different arsenal as well as some very bright — almost cheery — looking maps. A great departure from the series’ previous color scheme of dark gloomy grey. Now that those who have already played RO2 know what they’re getting into, time to get into the specifics of the game for the uninitiated:
With most every multiplayer-focused “Modern-Shooter” being a familiar romp through either Call of Duty-style tight corridors or the more open-ended skirmishes in the colossally spacious maps that the Battlefield series often opts for; most people are likely (and understandably) reluctant to welcome another game of the genre into their library. Although it is not entirely free of the devices that hold together most Modern-Shooters; Rising Storm does offer quite a bit to the genre’s metaphorical table.
First and foremost the game’s combat manages to stay intense through and through. Each match is a uniquely organic and adrenaline pumping nightmare. Okay, nightmare is pushing it a bit, but the game really does do a good job of making you feel like you’re in real combat. Or at least makes you feel as though you’re taking part in war-like combat as imagined by an individual in his late teens who makes a “living” off of writing reviews for his own website. But really, it makes for an incredibly engaging experience, one that even grants you a sense of heroism if you do something particularly crucial to your team winning the game.
The game-types are fairly standard for a game of this genre; Territory, Countdown and Firefight. Out of these three match-types Territory is the only one that has gained popularity, with good reason.
Territory tasks two teams with capturing each other’s… well… territory. Sound familiar? Well it’s not — at least not entirely. Unlike in Battlefield where each team starts with a base on one side of the map opposing the other’s, one team starts off in an offensive position while the other plays defense. The best way to provide an example of this would be to describe the flow of an average match on the game’s Iwo Jima map. So I’ll go ahead and do that now.
The match starts with the Americans on the shore of Iwo Jima (offense) while Japanese troops spawn approximately 100 yards away from them up a hill with several pillboxes planted upon it (defense). American soldiers will continue spawning at the shore until they either capture the base on the hill, and the Japanese will spawn at the base on the hill until Americans capture it, or until they deplete the enemy’s forces. Towards the middle of the match (at least if the team playing offense is doing a good job of it) each team will have bases near the center of the map, this is where the tug-of-war begins. The Japanese are able to re-capture all of their lost bases, so they switch to offense, while America is still playing offense. At this point each team is trying to push the other (figuratively) off the map and achieve victory. The way the battles are paced is pretty extraordinary, even though everything that happens in the skirmish is initiated by the players. It’s just proof of how good the game’s map design is.
It’s also worth noting how the game handles “respawning” — or “reinforcements”. Reinforcements are simulated through timed spawning waves. This means that all of the players who have “died” wait a pre-determined amount of time, and then they all respawn at once at whichever base of theirs is closest to the action.
That said, the game’s other two modes aren’t very special at all. Countdown is very similar to Territory (the only big difference being that players only have one life) and Firefight is basically a Team-Deathmath game-type. They’re competent game modes I suppose but they don’t bring the same tension that Territory does, which is probably the reason nobody plays them. Luckily if for some reason you do feel like playing them; the game will populate your server with bots so you don’t feel entirely alone in wanting to play an inferior game-type.
While Rising Storm is one of my favorite PC shooters at the moment, it is important to say that it definitely isn’t for everyone. It takes quite a bit of patience as it has a rather large learning curve. Call of Duty and Battlefield devoutees will likely be blown away more than a few times when they start playing the game, but once you understand its pacing it becomes one of the most satisfying shooters around.
More important than anything else, I like Rising Storm a lot. It’s a game I love having in my FPS rotation, and has been devouring quite a lot of my time as of late. Not because of any obligation to write a review for it mind you, but because it’s so gosh darn immersing. It takes the great mechanics and atmosphere from Red Orchastra 2 and adds new (better) maps and weapons. It’s well worth picking up if you have the patience for it, the shame is that most people don’t.