General game information
Game name: Rising Storm 2: Vietnam
Release date: May 30, 2017
Price: US$ 24.99
Available on: Steam
Genre: Multiplayer first person shooter
Developer: Tripwire Interactive, Antimatter Games
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive
Rising Storm 2: Vietnam is a multiplayer tactical shooter that aims to provide a somewhat realistic yet fun to play depiction of the Vietnam war. Every match will require coordination in order to succeed, and the game actively discourages lone wolf players, as communication is paramount and bullets usually kill in one hit. Battles take place in open maps featuring plentiful flanking routes, and the developers have expanded upon the first Rising Storm‘s asymmetrical gameplay, with the US/South Vietnam forces having access to helicopters and napalm strikes (among other exclusive tools of destruction) and the NVA tipping the scales on their favor with a number of traps and the ability to access networks of tunnels below the action.
Rising Storm 2 establishes itself as a no-nonsense shooter from the moment rookie players set foot in a hot zone and receive a lead gift from an enemy sharpshooter that sends them instantly to the respawn menu. Tripwire Interactive and Antimatter Games aren’t after the Call of Duty or Battlefield crowd and this is obvious from the beginning. Most hits will down the player instantly, or at least leave them bleeding and vulnerable to further attacks. This forces us to play carefully, relying on our teammates for support and calling out enemy positions as we see them.
In order to further reinforce teamwork, each faction has access to a number of specialist classes, as well as a basic grunt unit and a commander that can call in airstrikes and direct their team’s efforts in a specific direction. Aside from the faction commander, we will always have squad leaders who aren’t a specific class (the leader role doesn’t get its own kit, probably so people don’t hog it needlessly) but will be invaluable since they can mark targets for the commander and order their squad members to assault or hold important objectives.
Squad leaders and faction commanders become even more important in Rising Storm 2‘s biggest new addition to the series, a large scale game mode called Superiority, which relies on quick tactical decisions from the people at the top of the chain of command. In this mode, both factions need to generate points by capturing objectives and keeping them linked to their command center. Unlinked objectives don’t generate any points, so smart leaders can sabotage the enemy team’s operations with quick strikes on important locations, disrupting their lines and buying time to build up their own cache of points, securing victory for their faction.
Aside from Superiority, Rising Storm 2 also ships with the Red Orchestra series’ standard objective based mode, Territories. In servers running this game mode, we’ll have to either attack a series of positions or defend them, depending on our chosen faction. The attacking side will have to contend with a time limit, forcing them to keep advancing at all costs. Territories requires less coordination that Superiority, as players don’t have to deal with linked/unlinked objectives, but it’s still a team based mode at heart, so the side that takes advantage of the tools at their disposal will usually win, even if the enemy team is better at killing.
Of course, Tripwire‘s latest release is very focused on the killing part, since it’s a first person shooter. Luckily for us, the developers are some of the best in the business when it comes to recreating authentic weaponry, so the guns look and feel like the real thing (or as close as videogame guns can get to it). Rifle rounds can penetrate light cover, and RPG/grenade launcher projectiles will kill anything they hit, even if it was hidden behind a wall. Being under fire triggers a suppression effect, which is somewhat alleviated if we are close to our squadmates, but it’s still enough of a nuisance to make machine-gunners very useful when defending/assaulting a fortified position.
Since the game features friendly fire, every gun sounds different in order to let players differentiate between friend and foe when they can’t see who’s shooting. Learning the different uniforms is also a must, as we can’t always rely on ingame markers (and some servers disable most of the HUD assistance to offer a more realistic experience). Battle chatter is also important, with each side speaking in their own language and offering yet another way to identify threats.
Teamkilling can be problematic, but the game automatically kicks repeat offenders who haven’t been forgiven by their victims. Most players will probably kill a few teammates by mistake during their introductory matches, but the community seems to have come to terms with that during the open beta period, and they will usually forgive teamkillers who weren’t trolling (forgiving a player removes the extra respawn delay that serves as part of the punishment for murdering our own soldiers). Friendly fire isn’t limited to normal shots, so commanders need to be extra careful when asking for close air support. I’ve been in matches that were resolved by judicious use of artillery strikes, where our commander would knowingly shell our lines, telling us to find cover with a ten seconds warning, before calling in the strike, decimating the enemy forces and catching a few friendlies that didn’t heed their squad leaders’ warnings.
As I said in the introduction, Tripwire Interactive and Antimatter Games have doubled down on the former’s asymmetrical gameplay ideas, giving helicopters to the US/South Vietnam forces, and countering that boon with the introduction of tunnels and traps for the NVA side. While one might expect that the side which enjoys superior firepower would easily decimate the opposition, the reality is very different. The maps are designed with this asymmetry in mind, forcing the helicopters to fly close to the ground if they intend to be of any help and this, in turn, means that the NVA troopers can easily hear their engines and hide/attempt to shoot them down with RPGs or light machine guns. The tunnel system also plays a big part here, since US/South Vietnam players can’t enter the smaller sections of the tunnel networks, but they can camp their exits (or fill them with Claymores) and good scouts will tirelessly seek out and destroy Squad Tunnels (NVA squad leaders can place their own small tunnels which function as respawn points for their squadmates). It’s very clear that the developers didn’t want to make a game that felt perfectly balanced (since the Vietnam war was anything but that) but they worked to reach a compromise that feels good to play and won’t leave players thinking that they were cheated out of victory due to the opponent’s gear.
Speaking about equipment, while there is a progression system that doles out new items as we gain experience and level up, all weapons and variants of them are unlocked from the get go. Leveling up will reward us with cosmetics, which don’t feel out of place since they are not weird weapon skins or strangely colored uniforms. I felt that the progression system was a very nice touch, as it lets veteran players show off their rare gear without affecting gameplay at all.
Graphics, sound and performance
Rising Storm 2: Vietnam runs on Unreal Engine 3, the same tech that powered the first Rising Storm and Killing Floor 2. Since their first foray with this engine, Tripwire seems to have learned quite a bit, as I didn’t encounter any major problems during my time in the live servers. Graphically, Rising Storm 2 isn’t as beautiful as other modern shooters, but considering the scale of the game, I was more than satisfied. The fire effects could use some touch ups, and we’ll find an uncomfortable amount of low resolution textures if we know where to look, but overall, none of that ends up affecting our enjoyment of the game. The audio department is excellent, as usual with Tripwire‘s in-house releases, with both the music and the sounds feeling on point. Every gun sounds different, and the developers went the extra mile with the soldiers’ voices, as each faction speaks their own language, something that can be incredibly useful when we are in a close quarters battle.
Rising Storm 2: Vietnam is a must have for tactical shooter fans. Tripwire‘s latest release strikes a perfect balance between realism and fun, forcing players to work together thanks to its excellent squad mechanics and unforgiving gameplay. It’s definitely not a game for everyone, but those of us who enjoy working with others to achieve our objectives will keep coming back to it for years to come.
9/10 – Great.