World War II shooter Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 somehow manages to do the impossible: it makes ultra-realism fun. It shoehorns extremely accurate ballistics, vehicle and weapon modeling into a game that requires close teamwork in order to win. The retail price of $24.95 sets it apart even further in the teeming town of WWII Shooterville, and makes Red Orchestra a can’t-miss title for fans of team-based shooters looking for something substantially different.
With no real single-player game except for a self-contained practice mode, Red Orchestra is designed around objective-based online play for two teams of 16 players. The subtle aim of the development team has been to encourage mature teamwork by chopping out obvious awards for lone-wolf players, such as those that aim at simply killing the most opposing team members. Instead, it rewards players who help their comrades achieve team goals, like capture and control of key objectives. Being part of a cohesive, winning team is its own reward.
Both infantry- and vehicle-flavored levels are present on the Eastern Front, in addition to several mixed armor/infantry battlefields that illustrate the nuances of combined arms warfare. Only specific classes are able to pilot certain vehicles, and there are generally enough to go around so that there isn’t a crush at the beginning of the round to snatch a tank from your teammates. This is a nice break from sparse vehicle availability on games like Battlefield 2.