If you take a moment to stop and consider the current landscape...
...of the most popular first person shooters on any available platform, you most likely won’t find anything remotely similar to Rising Storm 2: Vietnam. In a market controlled by the Call of Duty, Counterstrike, and Battlefield franchises, Rising Storm 2: Vietnam is a breath of fresh, albeit hot and muggy air.
If you are unfamiliar with the Rising Storm series, you may have heard of Red Orchestra, which is the name of the series that eventually spun into the Rising Storm series in 2013. The game was set in WWII, and is held in high regard within the gaming community for its gritty gameplay. Fans of these earlier iterations will be happy to hear that Tripwire Interactive has yet again produced a stunning game that is surprisingly tactical in its gameplay mechanics, and brutal in its tone.
Even before getting a chance to get into game, the impression of the era of the Vietnam war is thrust upon you as Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Run Through the Jungle” blares through the speakers. Normally I don’t take the time to talk about the menu systems that are outside of the actual gameplay, but as I set key bindings, video resolution, and looked through the potential clothing additions that can be made to my characters as I progress through the game, I distinctly remember having fun. Sprinkled in are some interesting options like turning “Blood and Dismemberment” on/off, and setting the graphics to reflect options such as a “War Movie”, or “Woodstock Experience”. Once those are ready to roll, the stage is set to jump directly into the gameplay.
I am not new to shooters, in fact, I have spent a significant amount of time in every Battlefield game since Battlefield 1942, played a ridiculous amount of Day of Defeat and I even spent some time playing for a CAL team in Counterstrike. As I ran through a jungle in Vietnam, desperately trying to avoid air attacks or enemy traps, I realized that I had no idea what I was doing, and none of my prior experience was relevant. Yet it still took getting domed 3-4 times by enemy snipers hiding around objectives to make me stop and reevaluate my playstyle. There is no doubt that this game relies upon a far more strategic approach than many other shooters, but it is abundantly clear that unless you are working together with your team, you have no chance to make any impact at all. In fact, this mechanic is both the bane of your existence and crowning achievement of gameplay within Rising Storm.
Individual performance based upon statistics isn't celebrated, but the commander role is what makes the series unique to its counterparts.
Whoever takes the commander role on each side of the conflict has the responsibility to call out rally points, generate reinforcements, and even request airstrikes on key strategic locations. If you have a good commander and a team that communicates well, then there is no doubt that you will enjoy the title. Unfortunately, it seems that at the moment a good majority of the people playing the game would rather sit in a trench or lay prone with a sniper rifle hoping for a quick kill. This can lead to some frustrating moments, especially when you have an inability to respawn until an objective is captured and a guy named ‘SillyBillyWilly’ is the last one alive with an RPG strapped to his back somewhere in the forest… unsurprisingly nowhere near one of those objectives.
Airstrikes and helicopters add to the terse and suffocating nature of the title by promising an ever-increasing chance of certain death whenever they are active. If you get caught in the blast, but are fortunate enough to survive, you will see the blood and remnants of your teammates shower upon you. If you are not directly within the blast area, you will still get the impression of the efficacy of the attack as your ability to move slows and you can’t see as effectively. This represents the suppression system within Rising Storm, a mechanic that exists in other games, but seems to be more effectively implemented in this title. You also feel this way when under enemy fire, or whenever you narrowly escape mortar shells and grenades. The term ‘shell-shocked’ was coined to describe individuals in conflict situations who were paralyzed by fear, and on more than one occasion I found myself opting to stay still and piss my pants than risk the Vietcong killing me.
There are some technical issues within the game, such as the scroll wheel not working to change weapons, or performance issues related to optimization, but they are not enough to prevent a good experience within the gameplay. I was a bit disappointed with the graphics within the game, as it still felt very much like a modded title from late 2013. This is especially unfortunate because the game was built on the current Unreal engine, which has the ability to create some stunning graphical quality (just look at the game Paragon). As we have seen with other strategic shooters in the past though, the gameplay more than makes up for the lacking graphical quality.
When you play Rising Storm 2: VIetnman, just keep your head down, follow orders, and remember that you are not special; you are just a cog in the war machine and your only hope for survival is to lean on your wits, more so than to rely on your quick twitch trigger finger. Even then, you better hope your commander has a good head on their shoulders, otherwise you are in for a long day.