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Red Orchestra

Review: Shooter

Jun 02 // Nic Rowen
Shooter (Book)Released: June 2, 2015MSRP: $5.00 Shooter is a collection of essays from recognizable names in game criticism speaking on a wide range of topics related to games that involve some kind of gunplay. Some chapters take a deep dive into the mechanical and technical details that make shooters what they are. Steven Wright's “The Joys of Projectiles: What We've Forgotten About Doom” for example, laments the rise of “realistic” modern shooters and how their largely interchangeable hitscan assault rifles have abandoned many of the mechanics that made early FPS games so pleasurable and skill testing. Others are more personal, such as Gita Jackson's touching reflection on how Counter-Strike could be seen as a microcosm of the (seemingly one-sided from her self-deprecating perspective) sibling rivalry she shared with her brother. Shooter strikes a great balance, it never gets so bogged down in technical minutia that it feels like a lecture in game design, but has enough mechanical grounding that it doesn't just become a series of anecdotes either. The games Shooter examines are varied and numerous. Of course genre forebears and trendsetters like Doom, Half-Life and Call of Duty are discussed as you would expect, but there is plenty of attention paid to less bombastically popular titles as well. Genre-defying shooters like Red Orchestra 2 with its brutally unforgiving depiction of realistic combat, and the insidious darkness of Far Cry 2, which sets aside the typical rationales for heroic violence to make the player complicit in something unsettling, get entire chapters dedicated to them. It's a great technique. By examining the few games that step outside of the bounds of typical FPS conventions and power fantasy dynamics and figuring out why they feel so different, it is easier to pinpoint the standard tropes and expectations of the genre that have become so ubiquitous that they are nearly invisible. Perhaps the greatest praise I can give to Shooter is that it made me reexamine and reflect on my feelings about a few games. When a piece of criticism grabs you by the collar and demands you take a second look at something, you know its doing it's job right. Filipe Salgado's chapter on the intentional ugliness and barely contained chaos of Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days almost made me want to play through the game again with a fresh set of eyes -- eyes more willing to see past the clunky mechanics and thoroughly unlikable protagonists to scan for deeper meaning. Almost anyway (this is still Dog Days we're talking about). At its best, Shooter feels like a lively conversation with some very smart people who enjoy, but expect more from, their trigger happy games. Its snappy, intelligent, and occasionally funny. At it's worst, the book veers into the pretentious. At times, it feels less like a conversation and more like an awkward dinner party dominated by a lecturing windbag everyone is too polite to interrupt. Thankfully these rough patches are few and far between. The rest of the book is well worth putting up with the occasional eye-rolling turn of phrase. Mostly though, Shooter feels important. The industry needs more “capital C” Criticism to unravel the subtext and ideas behind the games we love. Games mean something. They impart messages, communicate ideas, either by conscious choice on the part of their developers or by the assumptions they make -- the casual omissions and things taken for granted. We have to start examining these ideas in a mature, intelligent, and yes, academic way. Shooter isn't the first example of this kind of criticism in games writing of course; there have certainly been other books written, and articles penned (on sites like Destructoid, I might add) that dive into these waters. But, it is still very much a nascent field. Video games are a young medium, and we haven't had time to establish a critical tradition like film and literature has. We need to cultivate these voices; the generation of writers that will talk about games in a serious manner in the coming decades. What better way to stake a claim in this new field than to gather a variety of exceptionally talented voices to talk about and critically examine what is generally considered gaming's dumbest, most developmentally arrested genre? The thrill of shooting a Cyber-Demon with a rocket launcher may be obvious and simple, but there is a lot to unpack when you take a closer look.
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Looking at life down the barrel of a gun
Shooters seem simple. You step into the shoes of your typical tough guy space-marine or mercenary and empty clip after clip into the faces of Nazis, or aliens, or alien-Nazis from the vaguely disembodied gun bobbing up and do...

Free Red Orchestra 2 photo
Free Red Orchestra 2

Download Red Orchestra 2 on Steam for free


One of the finest WWII shooters
Apr 22
// Jordan Devore
Tripwire Interactive has given the heads up that its multiplayer World War II shooter Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad will be free to download -- and keep forever! -- as part of a 24-hour deal on Steam, starting tomorro...
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Red Orchestra

Red Orchestra 2 is free to play this weekend on Steam


WWII multiplayer shooter
Apr 04
// Alasdair Duncan
Not content with just being included in this week's Humble Bundle offer, Tripwire Interactive's Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad is free for you to try this weekend on Steam. The World War II multiplayer shooter has also...
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Humble Bundle

Visit the Killing Floor in this week's Humble Bundle


Tripwire's games on offer in this week's deal
Apr 02
// Alasdair Duncan
Whilst these new weekly Humble Bundle deals might lack pizazz of the main bundles, they're still a great way to pick up some games for a few dollars. This week, it's the turn of Tripwire Interactive to be included in the...

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Rising Storm

Visit the Pacific theater of war in Rising Storm


From the developers of Red Orchestra 2
Mar 29
// Jason Cabral
Coming from an eclectic team made up of developers from Tripwire Interactive and community modders, Rising Storm is looking to take Red Orchestra's style of World War II combat into the Pacific theater with more guns, explos...

Did Call of Duty ruin a generation of gamers?

Mar 14 // Jim Sterling
Tripwire's focus group disliked the acceleration required to sprint, as well as the relative weakness of weapons and the way they handled. Weirdly, people who were very used to playing little else but Call of Duty struggled to play a game that was different to Call of Duty. Who knew!? "Almost every element boiled down to 'it doesn't feel like Call of Duty.' And really, watching some of these guys play ... one of the things that Call of Duty does, and it’s smart business, to a degree, is they compress the skill gap. And the way you compress the skill gap as a designer is you add a whole bunch of randomness. A whole bunch of weaponry that doesn't require any skill to get kills. "Random spawns, massive cone fire on your weapons. Lots of devices that can get kills with zero skill at all, and you know, it’s kind of smart to compress your skill gap to a degree. You don’t want the elite players to destroy the new players so bad that new players can never get into the game and enjoy it." Gibson clearly isn't a fan of the way Call of Duty does things, and that's fine -- there are many FPS fans that dislike it, and prefer other games. But to blame Call of Duty for "ruining" gamers, as if it doesn't have a right to exist and be popular, strikes me as silly. Tripwire will likely earn a lot of fans for dissing what is, essentially, the Twilight Saga of videogames, but Gibson is basically wrong in several ways.  First of all, claiming CoD "ruined" anything implies its popularity scrambled our minds, rather than appealed to minds that already existed and finally found an FPS they could enjoy. The fact CoD appeals to more gamers than most other games would suggest it reached people who were not already playing a great deal of shooters. Now, if everybody who was playing Quake suddenly stopped playing Quake and started enjoying only Call of Duty, Gibson might have a point, but I don't think that happened. To argue Call of Duty ruined the minds of gamers strikes me as no different from suggesting violent games turn kids into mass shooters -- it's an assumption that a videogame has the power to alter our brains for the worst.  It also ignores the fact that distinctly non-CoD games are also quite popular. Halo may have brought a few new ideas to the market, but its multiplayer and weapon handling are rooted a lot more in the old than the new, and it's still a massively popular franchise. I dare say, if Tripwire had focused tested a group of hardcore Halo players and asked them what they wanted, they'd argue in favor a game that felt like Halo. It strikes me as incredibly silly to specifically ask CoD fans what they like, and express dissatisfaction that they answer with "CoD." Call of Duty may have become wildly popular, and it may have influenced a lot of other games this generation, but that's not really Call of Duty's fault. It's just a game, and its only crime in this instance is appealing to a lot of customers -- a "crime" it didn't commit by tricking anybody or changing anybody's mind. It didn't succeed by sneaking into the rooms of children and whispering forbidden secrets in their ears while they slept. It was marketed well, was designed to appeal to more than just older FPS players, and it resonated. That's all it really did.   Red Orchestra 2 also resonates with an audience. Not Call of Duty's audience, but an audience that looks for something else. And that's great. I'm glad both games exist. There's room for everything in this industry, and some things will be more popular than others. That's ... life.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go and be mad at some dogs for always wanting to eat dog food designed for dogs to eat with their dog mouths. 
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Red Orchestra dev blames game series for daring to exist
Tripwire Interactive president John Gibson is disappointed in this generation of gamers, and the Red Orchestra developer lays the blame at the feet of Call of Duty. According to Gibson, who focus tested some hardcore CoD...

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Red Orchestra 2 cuts price in half and adds friend pass


Jun 08
// Joshua Derocher
Red Orchestra 2 recently had a free-to-play weekend, and it was wildly successful. The influx of new players was a good start, but Tripwire has decided to do even more to bring players into the game. Red Orchestra 2 is n...
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Red Orchestra 2 is getting a free content pack and more


May 22
// Jordan Devore
Tripwire Interactive has announced a Game of the Year Edition for Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, and unlike how many studios tend to handle this situation, they're putting out the new content as a free update. What's ...

Preview: Three 1C Company games worthy of a gander

Mar 19 // Ryan Perez
Men of War: Condemned Heroes, King's Bounty: Warriors of the North, Royal Quest (PC)Developer: 1C-SoftClub, Katauri InteractivePublisher: 1C CompanyRelease: TBA 2012 Men of War: Condemned Heroes It seems like everyone with a gun is "of" something these days. The interesting thing about this particular WW2 strategy game is that your troops are members of what were known as "penal battalions." Apparently, whenever Russian soldiers faced a court-martial, they were aften relocated into these particular battalions and sent on some of the most hazardous missions that our Russian allies had ever seen. Admirably enough, even members of these arguably punishing squads were deemed heroes within the war. So Men of War surprisingly features a controversial subject from Russian WW2 history. I've read about strapping bombs to dogs and training them to "find food" beneath tanks, but this one certainly tops my list of intriguing WW2 trivia. All of the missions players embark on are based on historical reference, which should make some of these soldiers' no-win scenarios even more interesting and inspirational. Too few games feature this sort of attention to non-fiction, so titles like Men of War: Condemned Heroes have their own appeal over the competition, from my point of view. As for the gameplay: It's what you'd expect from a tactical strategy game. Players are given a set amount of troops, and are tasked with accomplishing particular goals and objectives.  The graphics are on par with most other games in the genre, and the combat has some admirable depth to it (even giving players the choice between context-specific squad formations). The Men of War series is a pretty successful franchise for 1C, so check out Condemned Heroes if you dig strategy and are curious about the Russian side of the Great Patriotic War. King's Bounty: Warriors of the North I can't say I've had many chances in my life to play strategy-based RPGs. The genre doesn't exactly top the charts, after all. That hasn't stopped companies like 1C from trying to grasp a bit of that audience with the King's Bounty series, which is actually one of their top-selling franchises. Warriors of the North takes the genre into a European direction, featuring Nordic and Saxon-based armies -- everything from Vikings to, well, more Vikings. Players build armies that move around the continent (map) independently and engage in turn-based battles with other armies. Each battle consists of a grid where combatants move their units around to destroy each other. It's that simple. Those who are fans of strategic RPGs will feel right at home with King's Bounty. You build bases, upgrade troops, maintain morale, and basically wipe the other player off the map. Considering the raping and pillaging that Vikings often did, some might consider this a "game for the whole family." One thing grandma would definitely like is how you can summon a valykrie to destroy your enemies. A f*ckin' valkyrie! Royal Quest If there's one genre that the free-to-play market has plenty of, it's MMOs. They are easy to monetize and last about as long as people are willing to play them. For companies that are anxious to make some decent profit, never-ending games with microtransactions are like foreclosed homes to a Wall Street banker. I present to you: Royal Quest. To be fair, Royal Quest may look a bit on the cheap side, but it features plenty of variety that often make these F2P games worth trying out. Players choose one of three class types (melee, ranged gunman, or magic user) and embark on a journey of leveling, looting and lollygagging with other players. If you're at all familiar with MMOs and point-and-click RPGs -- I'm assuming most of you are -- then Royal Quest will be familiar territory. The game is simple, but it does have a decent emount of content that keeps it interesting. Players can expect no shortage of items and gear to add to their characters. Even gameplay has some nifty elements to it, such as certain enemies requiring specific element-based attacks to be defeated (i.e. fire monsters requiring water). Overall, Royal Quest seems like a decent diversion, wrapped up in a friendly, free-to-play package. 1C games might not be the topic of most conversations among gamers, but they do retain enough fun to generate an audience worth noting. 1C is technically the largest publishing company in the world (by product volume), and the company even has its own retail chain in Russia. So if you're curious about how these games have retained such a substancial constituency, try them out for yourself when they release later this year.
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[UPDATE: It has been brought to our attention that factual errors have been made with regards to this preview, and that only one of 1C's titles, Royal Quest, will be free to play, whereas the other two mentioned titles will b...

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Red Orchestra 2 Mod SDK unleased on Steam


Jan 11
// Maurice Tan
Tripwire Interactive is staying true to their mod maker roots by releasing the full Red Orchestra 2 Mod SDK today. If you own the game, you can start tinkering by downloading the SDK from the tools section on Steam. A limited...
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Red Orchestra 2 gets all stats and achievements reset


Oct 07
// Joshua Derocher
Red Orchestra 2 had a rough launch. While it is a great game, there were some serious issues to deal with, including bugs. One of those issues was stats not being recorded correctly. Players would sometimes have random and lu...

Review: Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad

Sep 19 // Joshua Derocher
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad (PC)Developer: Tripwire InteractivePublisher: Tripwire InteractiveReleased: August 13th, 2011MSRP: $39.99 (Steam) Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad is a first-person, multiplayer-centric shooter set in WWII. You play as either the Germans or the Soviets as they fight for control over Stalingrad. Each side has its own weapons that are very realistically modeled, all of which are fun to shoot people with.There are two single-player campaigns, one for the Germans and one for the Soviets. These could be considered toss-away experiences, since they are basically multiplayer matches with just you and a bunch of AI bots running around. While that might not sound like fun, they are almost essential to teaching you how to play the game. You could jump right into the multiplayer action, but you'll appreciate RO2 a whole lot more if you take the time to learn all of its details. It's about eight hours worth of content, so you might as well just do it. You'll thank me later.If you are looking for a great single-player experience, you won't find it here. Red Orchestra 2 is a multiplayer game. The campaigns are a great intro to the gameplay mechanics, but they lack the depth and story of a regular story mode. The robust multiplayer is enough to make it still worth your time, but if you don't like playing with others, you might want to sit this one out. The AI during the single-player is really incompetent. I had my guys running in front of my machine gun while I was firing, and sometimes they would shoot me in the back if I was standing between them and an enemy. If our goal was to defend a building, some of them would jump in and out of the windows, which is not normal behavior. Enemies can run by each other, and not react to seeing one another at all. They serve their purpose as a background for the single-player, but they fail to react in ways an actual person would.The multiplayer is what this game is all about. 64 players can go fight to death on giant maps with tanks and infantry. There is never a dull moment; you'll always have someone fighting by your side, and your life will constantly be in danger. Players all take on different roles. On some game modes, like Fire Fight, you can pick simply your soldier type -- rifleman, sniper, machine gunner, etc. What really makes the roles interesting is the Territory game mode. Each team has a commander who can call down artillery, aerial reconnaissance, or mortar strikes, and force teammates to respawn. A step below the commander are squad leaders, which can vary in number depending on how many people are playing. Squad leaders mark targets for artillery, so the commander can sit back by a radio and call it down quickly. They can also use smoke grenades, which are crucial in providing cover so you can attack your enemies' often well-guarded defenses. If a player is failing to perform their role, you can vote to have them removed.You can level up as you play, unlocking weapons and upgrades. As of right now, this system is bugged, so I can't really say too much about it. I know a few people that started at higher levels with a weird amount of kills. Achievements are also broken right now, so you might get some random pop-ups for things that you haven't done. None of these issues have an impact on the actual gameplay, but it is an annoyance worth mentioning. Tanks are a big part of Red Orchestra 2, and there is no simple way to drive a tank around the battlefield. You play as part of a crew, and you have to work together in order to get anything done. There is a driver, a main gunner, a machine gunner, and the commander is the one who can actually see what's going on outside. It can be really fun to be a part of a successful tank crew, but if you get stuck with a goon who drives into buildings and gets lost all the time, you will probably be bored out of your mind.Melee can be used if you get stuck in a close combat situation, but you won't be able to do it during mid-animation. So, if you're reloading, you will probably die if someone gets up in your face. This is really bad, but hopefully it's something that will be addressed soon.I don't usually like cover mechanics in shooters, but Tripwire really nailed it here. One key press will cause your character to take cover, and all you have do is walk away to leave it. Once you are in cover, you can fire right over the top without poking your head out. You can't see anything, but if you have a machine gun and ten guys are running at you, there's a good chance someone will be hit. You can also right-click to aim and look over the cover, which is much more effective, but also dangerous.There's a lot of bloodshed in Red Orchestra 2. Tank shells can dismember soldiers, headshots will leave lovely stains on the walls, and dying soldiers will bleed out all over the place while they gurgle and yell. If that sounds like something that you could live without, you can turn off the game's gore from the options menu. While the game plays well, it does have its share of bugs. Alt-tabbing will cause your framerate to drop drastically, there are some clipping issues, texture popping, and some other small annoyances. None of these bugs are game breaking, but they are there. Thankfully, Tripwire has been on top of all of these issues, and they deliver excellent support. They are even going so far as to optimize all the maps for increased performance, which will probably be a very time consuming undertaking for them.As it stands right now, the game only includes the single-player campaign and multiplayer. Tripwire has plans to include a co-op and multiplayer campaign soon, in addition to some more vehicles and maps added over time. DLC is planned, including the mod "Rising Storm," which will focus on the Pacific front of WWII. All of this will be offered for free, which is really cool.Red Orchestra 2 hits a sweet spot for me. The gameplay is fast-paced without being too hectic and confusing. The realism is not as arcade-like as Call of Duty, and it's not a hardcore simulation like Arma II. There is even enough variety in the role types that you can have a completely different gameplay experience depending on what you want to do. It might be more hardcore than some people are used to, but I found it to be refreshing.If it were not for the bugs, I would highly recommend this game to everyone who is tired of the current state of shooters. This is not just another Call of Duty, Battlefield, or Medal of Honor. As it is right now, the game has enough bugs and glitches that you might want to wait a bit before you jump in. Don't write it off, or ignore it for too long, though -- you might miss out on one of the best shooters in some time.
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World War II has never been this interesting. Five years ago, most gamers where tired of seeing WWII games, and now the cool kids are playing modern warfare shooters. If you're sick of the current trend in this genre, and want something that's a little bit different, then have I got a game for you.

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New maps for Red Orchestra 2 beta and screenshots


Sep 02
// Joshua Derocher
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad is shaping up to be the sleeper-hit shooter of 2011. The beta went live earlier this week, and fans are in love with the game. If you are one of the lucky ones in the beta, there are thre...
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Red Orchestra 2 beta is up for Deluxe Edition pre-orders


Aug 31
// Joshua Derocher
If you pre-ordered the Deluxe Edition of Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, you can finally play the beta. This goes for anyone who has already purchased the game, and anyone who buys it before launch. This first wave of ...
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Multiplayer footage of the Red Orchestra 2 beta


Aug 23
// Joshua Derocher
If you read our preview of Red Orchestra 2, you might be anxious to see some actual gameplay. Tripwire Interactive just released a high-definition video showing off a couple minutes worth. It's very hectic, and many differen...
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Red Orchestra 2 pre-purchase and Portal 2 price details


Aug 02
// Alasdair Duncan
If you're one of the many multiplayer FPS fans that are excited about the upcoming Red Orchestra 2, then get your wallets primed. As of today you can pre-purchase the sequel to Tripwire Interactive's WW2 shooter.  There'...
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Tripwire Interactive launches its own online store


Jul 29
// Alasdair Duncan
Killing Floor and Red Orchestra developer TripWire Interactive has launched its own online store where you can buy fun-looking merchandise from some of the studio's big titles. There's not a great deal of range to pick from r...
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Red Orchestra 2 PC specs and box art revealed


Jul 22
// Maurice Tan
According to the Red Orchestra 2 box art, snipers and hidden precision shots come first in Russia. While in the West, we'd rather like to go full-auto and maybe, just maybe, get up close and personal to stab someone with a ba...
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New screens of Red Orchestra 2 and 'Rising Storm' mod


Jul 12
// Joshua Derocher
We have some new screenshots of the upcoming World War II shooter, Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, to show off. In Red Orchestra 2, you will always be playing from first person, even while taking cover. You'll have to ...

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