Rising Storm‘s take on the Vietnam War features the distinctive gameplay of Red Orchestra with modern weaponry and well-crafted gameplay.
Genre: FPS, Action, Realistic, War
Developer: Antimatter Games ,
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive
Release date: 30 May, 2017
What is it about?
Rising Storm 2 is the sequel to Rising Storm 1, the award-winning first person tactical shooter game set in the Asian theater of WW2, which pitted Japanese forces against invading American troops. This time, however, the setting is based on the Vietnam war, starring Vietnamese and American armies, both sides with their own advantages and disadvantages. The game does not forget to feature the obvious imbalance between both belligerents, as American troops possess superior weaponry and support — including attack choppers and helicopters.
In order to balance such an issue, the Vietcong are able to use guerrilla tactics to counter-maneuver American superior firepower. This is done by using mechanics such as camouflage for walking/crawling through the jungle, as advancing through open fields is a death sentence: attack-choppers surveying the area will suppress and annihilate any Vietcong standing in the open.
Unlike other first person shooters available, RS2 mechanics are built with an emphasis on realism, with teamwork among squad mates being a crucial step to win a fight. The collaboration between squad leaders and the team commander is one of the most important factors for victory. Commanders have the exclusive ability to call for artillery fire to soften up resistance before an attack, as emplaced MGs and camping soldiers can easily pin down advancing soldiers.
The imbalance between the Vietnamese resistance and the American army is featured to such an extent that playing as the Vietcong is not as fun as the other side. While one may think walking through tiny tunnels in the ground must be cool — and it kinda is — it is not comparable to taking a transport helicopter and raining death from the skies. Not only that, but the Vietcong also stand at a disadvantage when defending territory, as attack choppers are equipped with weaponry that can bypass some kinds of cover, annihilating defending forces. Those two factors make advancing — therefore, attacking — much more complicated and defending, more difficult. To add insult to injury, American soldiers can also spawn on their squad leaders to quickly arrive in the front.
Apparently, RS2 is not lacking a player base. SteamCharts reports the game had an impressive amount of 5576 average players in the Last 30 Days.. but does that translate into easy-to-find servers? Unfortunately, no. The most available servers are somehow also usually full, making joining servers very boring. To put this into perspective, the game goes from one extreme to another, with either 0/64 servers or 64/64 servers. There aren’t many regional servers, with most being based in standard locations such as Europe and North America, with some Asian servers as well.
Aside from that, how well-crafted are the mechanics? They fare well, a great adaptation of the previous’ games features to fit modern weaponry and warfare shown during the Vietnam War.
Suppressive fire in modern warfare!
Rising Storm 2 underwent a good deal of modification in contrast to its predecessor, taking the realism-focused series to the next level. As one might expect, WW2 and Vietnam warfare cannot be played in the same way. While the regular grunt in Red Orchestra had a slow bolt-action rifle, the Vietnam counterpart features assault and semi-automatic rifles, that, while present in RO2, were not as widely spread as they are in RS2. The major weaponry upgrade allowed the common soldiers to have the power once restricted to MGs with the mobility of scout soldiers, creating a deadly and effective combination.
The series does shine among tactical shooters as it successfully manages to mix realism and gameplay without creating a simulator or a run-and-gun experience. For those who know the developers’ previous work, it is no surprise what they came up with Rising Storm 2 – Vietnam. As anyone would agree, charging through an empty field towards an enemy position can’t be like before, as a single defending Vietcong carries enough firepower in his AK-47 to annihilate an entire American squad in mere seconds, creating a more tactical experience that ultimately reinforces the point the game is heavily focused on: TEAMWORK. An incohesive squad that won’t collaborate with suppressive fire while a member advances won’t be rewarded with a sweet victory. It truly impresses how the developers managed to deal with what could be easily a balance issue given the fragility of soldiers in face of automated firepower and turned it into a feature. A useful feature that, while individual soldiers may be deadly, they can be countered with teamwork.
Scenario and atmosphere
As the game is based in Vietnam, a big chunk of the maps are based on jungles, hills or places with a lot of vegetation. The developers tried to create a scenario reassembling something close to what the American soldiers faced when deploying for attacks, but how does the environment details fit the concept? It is obvious that, as wars are waged, people were dislocated from their homes to find refuge in safer areas, abandoning their houses due to the dangers of the conflict, and it was no different in Vietnam, with local peasants and farmers leaving their houses behind. An American squad invading a Vietcong position will surely come in contact with stilt houses. This would be no surprise to anyone, but the way Rising Storm 2 – Vietnam portrays in-game abandoned houses seems a bit ridiculous to say the least, with villages not looking like villages, but more like someone threw a couple of small tents around and called it a village. Those areas do not look like they were previously used by humans but something created as a barrier or extra in-game obstacle. It simply doesn’t mix well for immersion to see houses with identical furniture.
Not only does the scenario lack enough detail to create an ambiance of abandonment, but the upbeat soundtrack “Run Through the Jungle” can be distilled down to an “Is this Rambo-ish?” feeling as the game does not give off the first impression of a realistic military game — which it is. The RS 1 soundtrack, on the other hand, expressed this well in the game. It had that feeling of grandeur and Japanese imperialism in the Asian theater. Not only that, but it was also a very ambient and pleasant soundtrack, not getting repetitive after hearing it over and over for 10 minutes while trying to find an open server with a decent ping to join. Red Orchestra 2 is another example, with its soundtrack transmitting a feeling of grandeur with a background orchestra followed by Russian vocals full of emotion. It has a very chilling grimdark to it, doing an excellent job of showing how unforgiving the cold battlefields of the eastern front were, and that the suffering of those who fell in battle was not forgotten. It is increasingly difficult nowadays to find compelling original soundtracks that complement the atmosphere of the game, and sadly, RS2 – Vietnam doesn’t do that as well as its older brothers.
The color palette in RS2 – Vietnam went through modifications when compared to its prequels. While Red Orchestra 2 had washed down colors to complement its grim atmosphere and Rising Storm tended to be orangey during conflicts waged amidst the sand dunes of islands or greenery during jungle fights. The Vietnam version has more color with vivid grass and sunlit rice fields, which isn’t exactly a bad change. The developing artists probably wanted to feature a bit of the baby boomers era using a more vivid color palette, creating stunning visuals in the open areas of Rising Storm 2 – Vietnam.
Rambo is fake news.
Few games manage to catch the fragility of the average soldier as Red Orchestra and Rising Storm do. It takes out the glamor frequently seen in first person shooter games where the soldier runs left and right exploding everything, jumping from helicopters while carrying akimbo rocket launchers. Instead, what players are shown is a regular person they can relate to, who will be scared when shot at, whose morale will eventually break, whose wounds do not instantly heal and stamina quickly recovers. Players that try to participate in Vietnam warfare as Rambo will find themselves sorely disappointed, as Rising Storm 2 – Vietnam rewards patience and dedication. Matches can take over 40 minutes of bloody 32v32 combat and are not fast-paced. The action known in other first-person shooters as “camping” is actively encouraged, as the game awards higher score for kills made near an objective point. Patience is a virtue, and Rising Storm 2 – Vietnam constantly reminds players to take it easy and proceed carefully.
Whenever an attack is needed, it is important to use reason and tactics to overcome enemy fortifications. A head-on charge with an MG in hand, similar to Rambo, will do nothing but kill the assault squad. Vietnam is not forgiving and trying to use Rambo’s tricks to get an advantage over the adversary will prove worthless.
Rambo is only but fiction. Rambo is fake news.
Is beloved charging no more?
Players familiar with the series will definitely miss the Banzai charge. While Vietnamese soldiers are expected to handle combat with guerrilla fighting, “banzai” charges are not a thing. At least, not like how they were. For those not familiar, a Banzai charge causes suppression effects on the receiving end of the horde, with the intensity of the effects depending on how many soldiers are charging together, using their bayonets — or swords — to deal the killing blow.
Rising Storm 2 doesn’t capture the intense feeling of a charge. The soldier does not shout any interesting words nor does the screen shake to demonstrate adrenaline. They simply run with the bayonet pointed up, with no special effects to it. Disappointed, but not surprised.
The increased use of automated weaponry makes it hard to be killed with a charge. A soldier carrying a bolt-action rifle might be taking his last breath, but a soldier carrying an M16 rifle will simply turn and spray. A heavy price to be paid for modernity. Surely the samurai would understand what’s at stake here.
Firearms are solely Firearms!
The weapons on both sides are another point towards realism in Rising Storm 2 – Vietnam. Firearms do not try to be anything other than boomsticks, without any sort of “how beautiful” feelings attached to them. Those firearms might not be pretty, but that doesn’t mean they are unimpressive either, with well-made firing sound effects and detailed weapon animations, they definitely make up for the lack of good-looking metal parts or imported cherry tree stocks. The guns are all pleasant to use and even if a player isn’t quick enough to get onboard the server and pick his favorite class, they won’t feel left out by being issued standard out-of-the-mill rifles, as they aren’t worse or better than any other gun, serving their own purpose.
A new feature added to firearms in the latest release of Rising Storm is the ability to utilize a variant of the main weapon, with selectable ammunition. For example, the AK-47 has multiple variants, such as the Chinese knock-off AK47 that may or may not have a stock and the original Russian-made AKM, each with their very own characteristics and details. As for the multiple ammunition types, it is evident when selecting the Scout class, featuring close-quarters weaponry such as a shotgun or an SMG. The shotgun has a diverse array of options to pick from, that go from the sawed-off shotgun to a hunting shotgun for Vietnamese scouts to Riot shotguns and Duckbill trench guns for American soldiers, and not only that, but the ammunition type can be selected as well, with the option to have both buckshot and pellets in a 50/50 ratio or solely buckshot or pellets. These allow gamers to adapt their loadouts to a specific terrain to gain a tactical advantage. When invading areas with trenches, it is wise to use Duckbill and buckshot, meanwhile, a warehouse might be more interesting for those with pellet ammunition.
The game is solid and enjoyable. For those not familiar with the previous games, it might take some time adapting to the combat and mechanics, but it is definitely worth it. Rising Storm 2 – Vietnam is a great sequel to an already amazing series, and it’s likely one of the best realist FPS games to be released this year — not surprising, given how the predecessor games were so critically acclaimed. Of course, it’s too early to claim such things, but given the quality of the craft here it will, at least, be in a Top 10 of the best realism FPS games released in 2017!
For those looking for a game to put many hours in, and that are not afraid of a challenge, Rising Storm 2 is an obvious pick for a fair price tag. Although there are some issues, such as finding servers in regions where the game isn’t that popular, but for gamers in North America or Europe, this will likely not be a problem at all. Ending up on the Vietnamese team can also be a bit unfortunate for those not willing to sneak through the jungle, making use of the camouflage mechanics available to Vietnamese guerrillas.
All in all, Rising Storm 2 – Vietnam is a great game and, even though it lost some of its original identity, it will definitely provide hours of entertainment.