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Posted on Feb 8, 2007 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45: Collector’s Edition – Game Review (PC)

By Jamison Lanum

Passed Inspection: Values teamwork over individual skill. Built-in VOIP. Incredible attention to weapon and vehicle detail.

Failed Basic: Character models occasionally run with the wrong animation.

It seems as though Tripwire Interactive has put their money to good use. By expanding on some of the gameplay, and adding a few new features, Tripwire has made "the highly popular mod" Red Orchestra into Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45, a great standalone title. Players expecting another conventional first person shooter will be disappointed as it will take considerable effort to master the many technicalities of the game.

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Everything about Tripwire Interactive’s creation will seem very alien at first. It ditches the mainstream Western theatre for the oft-neglected Eastern Front, along with many things players take for granted such as targeting cross-hairs, multiple shots to the body, automatic reloads, and chucks them out the window. This even carries over to vehicle operation as it takes two people with great communication skills to manage a tank.

As the driver, players will find their vision limited to a tiny port in the front of the hull. If they want a better view they must expose themselves to fire and quickly peek their head out of the top hatch. Likewise, the tank’s gun operator must be able to not only communicate directions to the driver, but also anticipate movements when firing. Every shot is critical as it takes a significantly long time to reload. It’s recommended that players spend an hour or so in the training mode hammering out the basics while destroying a multitude of brainless bots.

Character damage also has taken a slight turn from the norm. Each part of the body has a separate damage value assigned to it. That said, a single shot to the head or torso is likely to be lethal. Stamina also plays a key role in combat, specifically when trying to aim. If a player has just sprinted to some cover, he or she will find that the iron sights are dancing a little more than usual, due to heavy breathing.

As an online-only multiplayer game, teamwork is a necessity. Soldier classes are broken down into: Squad Commander, Rifleman, Machine Gunner, Vehicle Specialist, etc, and each seems more individualistic than in other titles. Classes only have a certain number of slots available so that a team of excellent marksmen can’t all be snipers and overpower a team with only one or two sharpshooters. Tripwire has included VOIP that is a must if you plan on competing with other teams. This allows you to communicate using voice, in real time.

The game ships with 13 maps, many of which are large and expansive. The terrain is varied and rages from clusters of bombed-out factories to farmland in the countryside. Regardless of features there are always plenty of places to take cover, which are important to regain stamina or to hide from those pesky bullets which always seem to be after you. Re-emphasizing the necessity of teamwork, victory isn’t based the number of kills but on which team completes the pre-set objectives first.

The sound effects in the game are incredible, and really add to the intensity of the game. From rattling gunfire to the big boom of a tank blast, it serves to immerse gamers in the experience. Players will be able to tell a lot of effort was put into making the weapons and vehicles as detailed and accurately animated as possible. The only presentation element to criticize is that player models look bland and occasionally feature some rough animation.

If you were lucky enough to pick up the Collector’s Edition you will find that Tripwire Interactive has provided two new maps along with 10 of the best community-made. In addition, four new weapons and a bonus DVD with trailers, art work, and wallpaper images, are also included. Aside from software, the Collector’s Edition includes a metal Red Orchestra dog tag and 16 strategy cards with top down views of maps and vehicle breakdowns. Not a bad deal for a game that retails for around $25.

Many developers which try to give their games a realistic edge often find their games in the bargain bin in a matter of weeks. However, Tripwire Interactive has designed a game which feels very immersive, realistic, and rewarding, thus avoiding the dreaded bin for longer than most. So if you still haven’t found that challenging shooter to test your skills, Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45: The Collector’s Edition is an excellent value.

Editor’s Note: A mistake was brought to our attention upon the release of the review. Tripwire Interactive never received $1,000,000 for winning the Nvidia modification contest. That sum represents the total amount of all prizes awarded, of which Tripwire only received $50,000. We have edited the appropriate sentence and apologize for the confusion.

Armchair General Score: 80%

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