Review – The Order: 1886

After becoming frustrated one day with my progress through Not a Hero, I decided to put that game down and give The Order: 1886 a try. What I found was an engaging game well beyond the review scores it received at release.

The Order, developed by Ready at Dawn and SCE Santa Monica and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, is a third person cover shooter set in industrial revolution London in 1886. It is an alternate history with an organization of knights openly fighting to keep order between man and half-breeds, primarily presented as Lycans (werewolves). The conflict has accelerated technology, giving rise to automatic weapons, wireless communicators, and other creative items.

The story follows Sir Galahad, one of the Order of Knights. He starts out on a mission to stop rebels in a small town and sets into motion a full story of action, revelation, and betrayal. It is well told through a liberal use of cutscenes and conversations during the slower moments of gameplay. Voice acting is top notch and the overall story is predictable but above average for video games.

Gameplay is similar to Gears of War or Uncharted in its presentation, perhaps leaning more to the latter. One primary and one secondary weapon can be carried along with two types of grenades. Weapons are selected using the d-pad during combat. Cover can be found behind most walls and crates found throughout levels. Cover is entered both by button press and by situation, which in some instances made for unintended movement into cover rather than just walking around a corner. Some vaulting and climbing is also found in the levels, but it gives just general lip-service to any sort of platforming. Shooting in the game has an average feel. The variation in weapons is typically in fire rate or spread as most enemies follow the usual three shots or one head shot to down. Enemies faced generally fall into five or so types and present a challenge primarily in numbers rather than ability.

Visual presentation is really where The Order shines (followed reasonably by the story). As a launch title for the PS4, Sony wanted to make sure it showed off the graphical prowess of the system and it does not disappoint. Character models are just shy of Uncharted 4, only outdone in advances in skin texturing. Clothing is well rendered and sits correctly on each character. Lighting is very well utilized throughout the game, giving eerie feelings to dark indoor areas and providing seemingly accurate illumination with lanterns. Environments also received attention during development with good detail, although props appear in average numbers (not to the level of a game like The Division). Animations are very well done, so much so that any glitches found (usually on transition out of cutscenes) are jarring.

I certainly understand the initial criticism of the game. Gamers did not appreciate paying $60 for an experience that lasted them four to six hours. However, that criticism no longer applies as The Order can be found for less than $5 during PSN sales. I would certainly recommend picking this one up during such a sale as it was hard to put it down once started.

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