I'll start this article with a clarification. I'm left handed. What's my point? It's not like I'm missing a finger or anything, it shouldn't be an issue. That's true for the most part, except for when it comes to PC certain games. Specifically the ones that don't like you rebinding the keys or allow you to but don't actually change. The big one for me so far has been Zeno Clash that wouldn't let you change one of the key fighting buttons thus rendering the game unplayable. Unfortunately Rising Storm also suffers from this although it's not quite so much of a vital functions as it was for my last nightmare PC game. Either way, this game didn't welcome me with a great first impression.
Thankfully, once I started playing this became less of an issue as chances are if you get shot, you're going down, bandage button be damned. The shooting itself and the game play are great fun, with game modes ranging from king of the hill style take and hold objectives to straight up death match. It really conveys the feel of being a grunt on the front line, one unlucky peak around the corner from death. The 64 man matches only reinforce this, making you feel like just another cog in the war machine, waiting to ground down. It's telling that quite a few of the public Rising Storm game servers run using a slightly toned down difficulty that allows for you to take a few bullets before going down(not the case with the original games multiplayer, which seems to favour the more hardcore difficulty). There's still a good chance you'll bleed out anyway if you get shot though.
All the guns have realistic handling and bullet drop, so you won't get people trying to snipe with a Thompson or change in head first with a sniper rifle, assuming that jumping will allow them to avoid enough damage to get up close. The sights can even be adjusted on the guns to take range into account. This is as close to a simulation experience you are going to get in a World War 2 shooter, at least as far as I'm aware.
As you may have guessed from such an experience, teamwork is a vital part of play. When starting a match you are thrown into a squad with an assigned leader. This person can issue orders to the group as well as to specific members such as the machine gunners or the riflemen. This means that when you get in a good match with a competent leader, the game offers a level of fun only available in games such as the older battlefields. The opposite will be true if the tables are turned however, with games quickly going to high hell if inexperienced players are put up against veterans.
One of the main selling points of Rising Storm is the asymmetric gameplay. It's a great idea and it certainly helps the game stand out. On the one side, you have the much better equipped Allies who can call in air strikes and get access to a flamethrower trooper. It's quite the sight when a squad of dug in Axis players all get cremated while desperately trying to flee their cubby hole. For the Axis you have something quite different. One is the ability to turn grenades into booby traps, the other is a charge move that consists of your soldier running around with his samurai sword drawn, taking less damage and effecting the morale of the enemy. If several players charge at the same time the morale boost and suppression effect are boosted resulting in a few entertaining situations of half a team all running headlong into the fray.
This all sounds great; right? Well, there are some pretty nasty issues unfortunately. The biggest one, at least for me as mentioned in the opening part of the piece, is keys not remapping properly as well as certain keys not being bindable. There are a huge amount of functions that need remapping if you decide to use the arrow keys instead of WASD and it really doesn't help if some keys simply cannot be used(edit:from my third session onward, the key worked as normal). All I'm going to say to that one is thank goodness for the extra buttons on my gaming mouse. The game also likes to regularly forget my key rebinds meaning the first five minutes of each session is spent on the options screen. This is just the start of my issues with Rising Storm.
The next is how glitchy the game's physics and collision detection are. Locking onto cover only seems to work when it wants too i.e. rare situations where you're not getting shot at, as well as certain terrain messing up the prone move. My biggest gripe though? Reloading. Should you do anything during any part of the reloading animation even when the clip is back in the gun, it's reset to being empty. This is, to be blunt, infuriating. I genuinely starting raging against the game at this point when I was using a assault rifle that has a huge reload time.
Red Orchestra 2 wasn't the prettiest game in the world when it was released back in 2011 and while there are some nice bits of eye candy here and there it looks very much like a budget game. This isn't so much of a problem considering you should be paying attention to people shooting at you rather than the foliage but it doesn't do much to make the game look unique.
In the end, while this game has a lot going for it and some great ideas, it doesn't seem to be able to get over it's budget heritage and break out into something really special. Give it a few months of patches and bug fixes, and I'm confident that this could be a rough gem sleeper hit. As it stands though it can only really be recommended to those after a World War 2 shooter and fans of the original game. If the setting isn't an issue, there's plenty of other superior multiplayer shooters out there.