In this third installment of the Column of Whatever, I felt like talking about video games—since I’ve never talked about those before (ignoring all the video game reviews I’ve written, cough cough). I have an entirely consequence-free confession to make: I like hard video games.
This will make sense in a moment. Anyhow, the latest Call of Duty game released in the last couple weeks and it’s gone back to WWII, which reminded me of my favorite WWII shooter on the market: Rising Storm/Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad.
That’s a complicated title, due in large part to the fact that it’s actually two games packaged together. Rising Storm is the Pacific theater add-on for the Eastern Front focused Red Orchestra. They are sold together through Steam for $19.99.
In any event, Red Orchestra has garnered a well earned reputation for absurd difficulty, brutal realism, and addictively satisfying gameplay when you get over the initial difficulties. For those experienced with multi-player first person shooter games, you are probably familiar with the concept of a kill-to-death ratio, that most sacred of metrics to measure player ability with.
The more kills you get per death, the better you are at the game. It’s a simple to understand metric that has been popular since the release of the first player-versus-player shooters. Red Orchestra simply laughs at the concept. The in-match player list records each player’s team points, individual points, and kills.
For anyone coming into the game as a new player, you will likely die five or more times for every kill you get, depending on your experience with shooters in general. Aside from that, it is a truly enjoyable game, if dying often is your thing.
Red Orchestra is not the only difficult game I adore. In the same vein, there is Verdun, a WWI shooter with similar traits, such as accurate weapon performance and terrifyingly quick deaths.
I have also found an abiding love for realistic simulators like Falcon 4.0 BMS or DCS, both highly detailed flight simulators. Flight sims are something I expect many at this school have a deep familiarity with, for obvious reasons.
Other games in my collection that have more of a learning cliff than curve are Dangerous Waters—a high-fidelity submarine simulator—and Rogue System, which is a space simulator in the style of “every-button-is-usuable” flight simulators.
Rogue System also accurately portrays the challenges of navigating in space, with equally accurate orbital mechanics. To start a ship from just reserve battery power in Rogue System requires a solid ten minutes and a checklist that would put a real-world light aircraft to shame. It’s a fantastic feeling the first time you start up a ship from reserve power and everything works as it should.
It would be reasonable at this point to ask “Why?” To that, I would have to say I don’t totally know, just that when I see something described as “realistic,” I immediately become interested.