I am tired, really tired. I have not showered in at least a day and i have intentionally left my Iphone on silent. Why? If you have been around the gaming communities lately you surely know Rising Storm Invitational beta is live! Obtaining a key for myself became somewhat of a sick addiction, moments of hope, terror and sheer joy when i finally managed to get one (after no less than 24 hours of trying). I was so excited i packed up my rig and moved it to my friend’s house who has the best internet connection that i know of, just to play that few moments sooner. Any hardcore Red Orchestra fan or player knows exactly what i speak of, and with 1000+ hours already under my belt in the series, i like to think i am among that group.
My first impression of the game was more perfect than i could have asked for. Artillery rumbles in the distances, smoke from wrecks lingers over the battlefield and obscures targets. The steady thump thump thump from an emplaced machine gun and the cries of pain from its victims. From somewhere a Japanese soldier yells “BANZAI” and soon after a torrent more screams pierce the air from his comrades. My excitement reaches a boiling point when i find an open Officer class on the axis team, which by this point i know has a Katana. Running, yelling (in-game and possibly at my computer desk) i pass two riflemen who catch on quickly and begin to follow me in my charge. My “counter” is at x3, now we have a group bonus, filled with adrenaline i crest the top of a hill and .. WHAM i take a round through the chest. My character begins to bleed out and the screen begins to fade, he loses his footing and topples over back down the hill crying in agony, i never get to see my foe.
Immediately you will notice changes if you’re coming from the original Red Orchestra or the sequel. Lush vegetation is spread across the map offering ample cover for attacker and defender alike. Gone are the large multi level structures in Heroes of Stalingrad (grain elevator anyone?), instead plain thatch huts and simple wooden bunkers dot the landscape. The developers have clearly done their homework recreating some of the environments. One of my particular favorites is the illumination flares that drop over the battlefield on the night map(s) it casts an eerie red glow across the war-torn pacific paradise. Landing on the beaches of Iwo Jima as an American you will feel helpless as you run across the open sand toward waiting pill boxes. If you happen to be inside of one, the feeling of power looking down as US troops pass across the same open sand is powerful. Waiting in the front line trenches on Guadalcanal for the inevitable Japanese attack at Henderson airfield, the all too familiar call of “BANZAI” will chill you to the bone and have to frantically looking around for someone trying stab you. The Mill on Saipan towers above the map like a fortress and once the Axis are pushed back there it becomes a nightmare for both sides, with steel and flame cutting through the soft pacific air.
On a more subtle level some of the changes are huge but not instantly noticeable, namely the balancing between the armies. The American army has a vast amount of modern weapons which are capable of putting a tremendous amount of fire downrange while conversely the Japanese army is limited to mostly bolt-action rifles and scattered sub machine guns. To counter this Axis units (Japanese) are harder to suppress, a trait that becomes more prevalent when charging in groups, and all rifles come equipped with bayonets. The Allied units (American) during these charges suffer more suppression and decreased damage. So even if your friends and yourself have managed to find a comfy little trench to hold out in, ‘Tojo’ screaming towards you with cold steel will make you think twice about holding your ground, at least that much i can promise you. As well a handy little device known as the ‘knee mortar’ is available only to the Japanese side. If the name did not give it away, let me elaborate. A small hand-held mortar that can assume either a direct or indirect fire role, making entrenched American positions easier to overcome. The charge ability combined with the knee mortars make taking out American positions far less daunting than they otherwise would have been. My favorite new feature without a doubt is the ability to plant grenades in the ground as booby traps as Axis, offering much-needed help to strengthen Japanese teams when defending positions! Simply look at the ground while holding a grenade and right-click.
To this point i have 5 hours in-game and i struggle to write anything bad about it. Other than the occasional dead time when the servers are empty or playing with a new group of players and getting my a** handed to me, I have yet to be let down. It seems as if only people who really wanted in to the beta were able to get access to keys (or if you’re just that lucky) so the level of teamwork and quality of play here is outstanding. Voice communication is excellent, squads move together and defensive positions seem to come alive. One of my only concerns is that new players (anyone who does not have RO1 or 2) must go through a new system where they are gradually introduced to the more hardcore gameplay by being forced to partake in ‘action’ matches which are the same as ‘realism’ ones but with added handicaps like cross hairs, reduced damage and suppression making it feel more like a call of duty knock off than i am comfortable with admitting. To all new players who are reading this i hope after you unlock the realism matches (at honor level 13?) you stick with them and try them out, it is what the series is known for.
Thanks for reading, Like / comment / i would love to hear from you!