Red Orchestra
Ostfront 41-45

Format: PC
Excalibur Publishing

5 060020 472404
Age Restrictions: 16+
23 June 2006

Fight in the theatre of war that changed the world forever. Battle alongside your compatriots on some of the most inhospitable environments of the Eastern Front, allowing the player to fight through some of the most intense combat of the war. You can play as infantry, using a wide range of infantry weapons, or crew one of the many armoured combat vehicles available in the game, from half-tracks all the way through to the most famous German and Soviet heavy tanks. You can engage the enemy with everything from your bayonet at close quarters up to the massive 122mm cannon on the Soviet IS-2. And if that isn't enough, find an officer a and radio to call in thunderous artillery strikes to shake the enemy loose...

Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 is a full-featured, stand-alone World War II First Person Combat simulator that brings players to the frontlines of Eastern European combat during the height of the conflict. There are 28 infantry weapons or 1 of 14 detailed vehicles on the Russian Front to choose from. Their are a combination of roles across more than one dozen maps, all based on real-world locations and battles.

This is a pretty intense WWII simulation - and probably the most realistic released to date. However, "realistic" is not always everyone's cup of tea. If you're the sort of person who likes to line up your enemy in your crosshairs and fire off a shot, then run around looking for the next target, then you're going to be a little frustrated by how slow moving this game is. You may also be put off by how difficult it is to kill your enemy when shooting them.

Firstly, there is no crosshair (unless you are using artillery or a rifle), so if you want to aim you'll have to do it looking down the barrel of the gun. Then there's the fact that you'll need to raise your gun before you can fire it (otherwise you'll just shoot wildly from the hip) and finally, you have to pull the trigger twice to fire each bullet (your first click fires the round, while a second click is needed to reset the bolt on the rifle). And, if your weapon has a clip rather than a magazine, you normally have to wait until the clip is empty before you can reload your weapon. Personally, I found this to be a welcome relief from the constant stream of unrealistic war games - you really have to think carefully before every move.

You can run, walk or crawl your way across the map, but you'll need to keep an eye on your stamina. Getting from A to B, without being blown to bits, is not as easy as it sounds and a lot of tactical planning is needed to find the safest route.

If you're expecting to storm, or defend, the beaches of Normandy then you're going to be a little disappointed. As the game's title indicates, this focuses on the Russians versus Nazi Germany side of combat. Again this was refreshing, as the more popular games totally ignore this part of the war in favour of the British and American campaigns.

But where this game really stands its own is in the online play. What's really scary here is how, just like in a real combat situation, it's not always easy to tell the enemy from your comrades. It's not difficult for you to shoot at a figure, only to discover he's one of yours. Equally, you'll have to keep an eye out for friendly fire. Also, when driving vehicles, only certain characters are equipped to drive - which is why you should carefully choose your character at the start.

At the end of the day this is about as close to a real war situation as you are (hopefully) ever likely to get. If you want a game that makes you feel like you are starring in your own war movie then this is probably not for you. However, if you want a game that lets you experience all the elements of living through a real combat situation, you won't get much better than this. For World War II fanatics, this is as real as it gets.

Nick Smithson

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