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Red Orchestra Ostfront 41-45 Review

Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45  pack shot
Developer:Tripwire Interactive
Publisher:Valve (Steam) / Excalibur (UK Box)
Genre:WWII First Person Shooter
Official Site:http://www.redorchestragame.com/
Release Date:June 23, 2006 (UK Box)
Reviewer:Ben Atkinson (Jammin)
Buy now at Amazon.co.uk

Red Orchestra started life as a very successful mod for Unreal 2003/4, taking itself away from the crazy world of guns that shoot green blobs of goo and replacing them with MP40's, PPS' & Half Tracks. Set on the Soviet side of the war, you can expect a range of terrain from snow to summer fields. The game is now in retail as a stand-alone title and is available from Valve's Steam delivery platform, as well as on store shelves. Bear in mind that Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 is multi-player only, so for all those single player WW2 junkies this game is probably not for you.

Initial forays into the world of Red Orchestra are quite frustrating, most of the buttons are unbound and you don't really know which ones are important. Once you have played for a few hours or so though, you realise what you need where, and the game starts to become more involving, the learning curve could do with being a little less steep though.

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Red Orchestra is strongly built around team play - it feels more like being in an actual war zone than many other team-based FPS games I have played. However, this can be limiting as if you are prone to flying solo, like me, the game can be quite challenging - no matter how good a shot you are, you can't blow up a tank with a rifle! Kits are also number limited so unless you have a super fast PC and load up quickly you might be permanently stuck with a kit you dislike. Unlike Battlefield 2, there is no squad system; I found this really quite surprising. In terms of the team-play needed to succeed, it would be a major help. The great thing about this game though, is that they seem to be releasing quite a lot of updates for free - so if enough of the community wants something added, things will get changed.

The usual goal of the game involves taking and holding points for capture, much like in the Battlefield series. Sometimes this can only involve defence for one team, who are not even required to capture one flag. This can get actually get quite intense as things start to kick off, and is genuinely fun to play. I've also noticed that players tend to naturally team up with armour and try and capture the points, which is always a good sign in a team game. A nice touch is that you really need a player in each position of a tank to use it effectively - no more solo tank whoring that we're so accustomed to in other games! Another amusing point is that you can be shot out of a tank through the holes which you see; I've had the odd grenade fly my way into armour and finish me off. Annoying at times, but nice to see, the sort of realism that you can appreciate.

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Red Orchestra seems quite varied with some levels that are very small, with only a handful of choke points and little to no armour. Then there are huge levels with rolling fields, tanks-a-plenty, and choke points galore. The good thing about this is it lends to many styles of game-play. There seem to be a lot of indoor environments as well - many closed doors can be opened and lead to a whole new world of shooting people from the tops of alleys, being the "sniper in the tower" and other general naughtiness. Resupplying can be done by pretty much anyone, which is handy. If you see a comrade in danger, just walk up to him and forfeit some of your ammo and he will be on his merry way fighting once more. There are no medics in Red Orchestra though. People therefore have to play a lot more carefully as there aren't twenty or so medic bags lying around ready to top you back up to full health.

Graphically, Red Orchestra is quite dated, there is no escaping it. However this doesn't really limit the game-play, perhaps aside from long distance shooting, where sometimes it can be hard to differentiate the two sides, needless to say I team-killed quite often. No doubt some of the larger scaled FPS games being released will make the game look older than it already does - but hey, better and better graphics just mean lots of costly upgrades right? And although Red Orchestra doesn't have all the flashy graphics of say Battlefield 2, the price is right and a gameplay is good. Perhaps we should therefore not hold the slightly dated look against it.

Sound in Red Orchestra is nothing really outstanding either; again it generally gets the job done though. Artillery strikes and whizzing bullets being two examples of exceptions, other sounds, such as vehicle noise are not so hot.


Red Orchestra is a realistic team based FPS, at a budget price. What it delivers is pretty much what it says on the tin - realistic and enjoyable team action. While I can't really fault this game for what it's trying to be, it doesn't seem to have the same amount of fun as less realistic games in the genre. I didn't get the chance to play with a whole host of my mates at the same time, so I can only guess that it would be a much more fun experience with clan play. Sadly there doesn't seem to be much of a community built up around this game in the UK, and I found myself playing on the same servers over and over again, as there simply weren't enough full or well populated servers to play on. It's a bit of a shame as this game could be much more fun with a well organised and larger community. Check it out if you like WW2 games, and are after something a bit more realistic than the average team shooter.

The bottom line
7.0 / 10

Good stuff

  • Realistic
  • Good team-based play (when you can organise yourself)
  • Budget Price

Not so good stuff

  • Graphics are slightly dated
  • Not many European or English servers
  • Steep learning curve
  • More controls that you can shake a stick at

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