Rising Storm, a shared effort of developers and fans of Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, is among the very best multiplayer first-person-shooters set in World War II for the PC. Excellent environments, asymmetrical warfare, and emphasis on circumspection and teamwork make this standalone expansion a sweeping, well-made adaptation.
Rising Storm is set in the Pacific, amid lush jungles, debris-choked beachheads, and cities peppered with shadowy interiors set on a sweltering landscape. Each map is large and complex, constantly giving players opportunities to try new strategies without bogging down in the same handful of chokepoints.
Among several game modes, the most popular is “Territory”: one team attacks a linear series of objectives defended by the other. The battle’s historical scenario determines attacker and defender, and either role puts each team’s unique abilities to use in interesting ways. American troops’ superior firepower can be a boon either way, as with the flamethrower which can clear an objective or rebuff an enemy. The Japanese force’s knee mortars are equally versatile, while its team-empowering banzai charge can mean swift victory used well—and devastation if mistimed. (Take out those machine guns before you go shouting “banzai!”)
Both sides have unique and purpose-driven character classes that occur in variety throughout the game. However, each class tends to have limited individual capabilities. That set of limitations can function in a positive way: the experience of being equipped with only a bolt-action rifle, for example, is exhilarating, forcing the player to measure every set of steps and maintain an awareness of the environment to use its aspects as an advantage at a distance.
You must rely on your teammates’ abilities to fill in the gaps and they in turn must rely on you, for in Rising Storm, the team that sticks together will almost always emerge victorious.
Rising Storm is a bargain. Available for $20 at steampowered.com, Rising Storm comes with Red Orchestra 2 in its multi-and single-player entirety. A player can choose which theater as easily as choosing which game server to join. In addition, a player can go it alone with Red Orchestra 2’s single-player strategy mode. Highly recommended.
Originally published in the October 2013 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.