Rising Storm 2: Vietnam PC Review
I was in for a rude awakening when I first jumped into Rising Storm 2: Vietnam, the sequel to the stand-alone expansion for Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, Rising Storm. I had never played the original game, so I didn’t have much of an idea on how it played. I fool heartily assumed it would be similar to Battlefield. On paper, they hit all the same bullet points with features across both of them being similar, such as squads, classes, and game modes, and so I went into my first match playing it as I would the recent Battlefield games. Oh boy, oh boy, was that wrong, as I was met with death after death, finishing my first match with two kills, but with a death count that crossed over double digits. This is because while from the outside Rising Storm 2: Vietnam is a 64 player multiplayer team-based shooter, it’s tuned for more of a realistic experience than Battlefield, and due to its willingness to bring a close take on the conflicts of the Vietnam War, it’s an experience that requires more patience and demand from the player.
What makes it a challenge for anyone with a lack of experience in this semi-sim action is how the game does not spoon feed information. Hell, even the tutorial is just a bunch of YouTube videos to explain controls, classes, combat, and game modes, leaving just a playground to practice flying a helicopter and shooting targets.
My first few matches required adjustment, unlearning the automatic actions that have built up over the years of more arcade shooters. The user interface isn’t implemented in such a way to make this easy. You’ll probably shoot a few friendly units in your first few matches, as a small coloured indicator doesn’t appear on a character’s torso unless you look at the unit long enough. Mix in deaths from one or two bullets – light wounds can be healed, but takes a few seconds to apply the bandage – from people sneaking up behind you or hiding in the environment and popping shots from a distanced, and it is easy to see people becoming frustrated. After a few matches I began to learn how this game should be played, how to push forward, and how to work together in a game that relies heavily on team cooperation and situational awareness. Eventually frustration turned into progress, which then turned into a whole lot of fun.
The noticeable difference when matching with other popular shooters is with the combat. It’s a slower and methodically paced game where no on screen reticle exist, guns shake and weaver when hip firing, ammo count needs manually checking, recoil is in full effect – short bursts and aiming down sight is advised – and suppression is a thing. When in situations under fire with bullets passing by you or napalm strikes landing close to the location, the game will kick in suppression where the screen begins to blur, you cannot focus correctly for a few seconds and weapon handling is affected. This mechanic is implemented to try show the implications of fear in war, something a player never experiences sat in front of a monitor and acting as a super soldier, which will get you killed in this game. Staying alive is likely to happen if you focus on being within a squad of up to six people and pushing together, using a lot cover and leaning out with lean keys, and mostly keeping out of sight of the enemy, since as mentioned before, a hit or two can take you down, so being in a team all flanking or pushing together is more of a threat to the opposition.
Maps are decently sized, not quite as large as some of the biggest in Battlefield 1, but there is enough scale here to feel open enough. With the game being set in the Vietnam War, the maps represent the harshness of those locations. Song Be is heavily enclosed in the jungle, where lush vegetation is your friend for the American forces, moving from trees to trees to avoid being spotted by the Vietnamese, who have locked themselves in huts and other encampments. Hill 937 is a huge brown hill packed with trenches, tunnels and bunkers that favour the Vietnamese, who can use them to move around quickly without being seen. There is an air of authenticity about the environment, and it seems to match up with the documented stories of how hellish it was for fighting against the Viet Cong guerrillas and the North Vietnamese Army back in the 1960s.
There are eight maps across jungles, towns, fields, hills, military bases and towns that feature across three game modes. Territories is the game’s main publicised mode, which is a two round attack and defend with strongholds that require capturing to spawn closer to the defending team’s base. Supremacy is Battlefield‘s conquest mode, where teams capture points and hold them to earn points, while the last mode, Skirmish, is a smaller take on Supremacy with 8 versus 8 replacing the 32 versus 32 madness of the full mode. More maps certainly would be nice, as eight is a small amount, but with an asking price of £18.99, I can see why it comes with this amount. If the past is any thing to go by with Tripwire Interactive, then free maps are likely to come in the future to bump up the count.
Both sides in the conflict sported contrasting combatant skills and weaponry, and Rising Storm 2: Vietnam does this by giving both teams distinct equipment and abilities. The American forces have the sheer firepower, coming armed the helicopters, napalm strikes, AC-47 machinegun fire, basically the most advanced weaponry, while the Northern Vietnamese forces have the know of the land, being able to use that to be stealthy and tricky – crouching and keeping still enables them to undetectable by recon planes – laying traps (spikes and mines) down for any unsuspecting American soldier who walks into them, which makes up for their lack of superior guns. The Vietnamese also gain an advantage in the tunnels, as the game enables to them to keep their primary weapon out, while the American soldiers are forced to use side arms, and if you are a class without them, then you’re going to have to hope your melee skills are exceptional.
Individualism with the sides comes into the classes, with specialised roles having a limited amount per team, People do pick which class to play as, so if you wait around, you’ll see them quickly snatched, leaving the rest of the players to use the generic Rifleman class, which the game allows for an unlimited amount of them. Limited class amounts work in the games favour, as it removes such horrible situations when everyone is camping as a sniper. Apart from the combat and transport pilots for the American side, both teams have similar class roles. Scout/Pointman are good in close quarters and supply helpful smoke grenades to mask players. Machine Gunner is a defensive role made to dig in and fortify capture locations and deal suppressive fire. RPG/Grenadier is pretty obvious (blow up buildings, clear enemies out of hiding). Sapper/Combat Engineer can break barricades and create entry points for teams – they also have flamethrowers on the American side.
Lastly, each team has a solo Commander, which is vital to succeeding. Whoever picks this is given the responsibility in keeping their team alive and working well as a unit. Commanders have great support abilities on cool downs, such as reconnaissance to reveal enemy locations, barrages (artillery barrage and anti-air missiles for the North, napalm strikes and gunships for the South), but then each Commander also has spawning abilities for their team. Americans can spawn on squad leaders and the Vietnamese can spawn in squad tunnels, offering cover and stealth when returning to the battlefield. Commanders need to be good at communicating with the team, working with the Radioman class who should sit near the Commander to offer quick access to the air strikes, otherwise the Commander has to run to a place that contains a radio to be able to perform the same action. Not good if it’s at the other side of a dangerous patch of land.
A flourishing team needs people who can play their role well, so for anyone who cannot, it’s best to play it safe and be the grunt of the force and go capture objectives as a Rifleman. When a team comes together, all working in tangent, it’s a such a rewarding time that can mask the frustration of a previous match where it all fell apart, even though it feels like it wasn’t your fault, either because other members didn’t play their role well or the opposing team simply had a better Commander.
Graphically, it’s fair to say that Rising Storm 2: Vietnam is a bit rough in the animation department and does not have the flair of some of the bigger shooters from companies like EA, Activision, Ubisoft or Bethesda, but overall it does not look bad. The recommended graphics card is only a Nivida GTX 760/AMD 270X. The GTX 1080 used in the review machine easily held itself over 60fps set at the games maximum settings at 2560×1440 resolution. The sound design packs a punch, especially in the heat of battle when the artillery bombardments are raining in, gunshots are ricocheting close by and the screams of death are all around, making the experience of war feel that more daunting. It might be just a game, but it offers a small insight into how difficult fighting in the Vietnam War must have been.
Rising Storm 2: Vietnam manages to carve itself a place in an already flourishing genre, all thanks to the semi-simulation war combat. The Vietnam War makes for a distinct battleground that has been smartly incorporated into the game’s mechanics, which bring slower paced matches with more emphasis on team work and survival combat than rushing out to be a solo war hero. Rising Storm 2: Vietnam is aimed at a specific group of first-person shooter fans who are lured by the prospect of an experience more closer to the realism spectrum, and by looking at the server browser, there seems to be enough players to give this game legs. If that sounds like something enjoyable, then I can see Rising Storm 2: Vietnam becoming the multiplayer shooter of 2017 for those people.