The Order: 1886
Developer: Ready at Dawn, Santa Monica Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 4
Genre: Third Person Shooter
With more promising exclusives down the line for 2015, kicking off for the PlayStation 4 is the Order: 1886; a third-person shooter released by Ready at Dawn studios.
Set in an alternate 19th century London, the order is a council of knights set on keeping the world safe from both humans and the supernatural. Aided with the liquid Blackwater, these knights are given all sorts of remarkable healing powers, even being presented with the ability to prolong death itself. Despite this organization managing to remain since the times of King Arthur, half-breeds (werewolves) still roam amok, with Lycan attacks growing ever more frequent with each passing day.
You play as Galahad, one of the knights currently working for the order. With everyone suspecting that rebel forces are somehow tied with these attacks, it’s up to Galahad to investigate the matter and sort things out.
One of the main things that order does right is most certainly its presentation. Graphics are absolutely superb and provide truly that next generation feel for the PlayStation 4 library. Textures are high quality, the lighting effects are wonderful, and the animation on characters really do bring to life the game as a whole. The level of detail in recreating London is a visual delight, as both indoor and outdoor locations are masterfully crafted and provide draw dropping awe in visual wonder.
The game also runs surprisingly well. Load times are quick, texture pop-ins are practically non-existent and the transitions from cutscenes to gameplay are relatively smooth. There is an odd black boarder however present, and this remains as you’re playing through both the game and watching cutscenes. Part of me suspects that this was placed to give players the illusion that the cutscenes were being run through the games engine. But whatever the case may be, graphical fidelity is pretty consistent through both the game and cutscenes.
The story is fairly average and by the end of it, feels more like a prologue title then a fully fleshed out game. Nonetheless, in regards to the motion capture, these are otherwise spot-on performances achieved by the voice actors.
But even with all these technical achievements present within the Order; the core gameplay however remains pretty boring to say the least.
Combat isn’t anything special. Whilst the game does provide an awesome array of weapons, enemy AI however hinders some of that enjoyment. To be perfectly blunt, enemies are pretty stupid, and will more often than enough stand out in the open like idiots before getting hosed down by Galahad’s return fire.
What makes some of these combat scenarios frustrating as well is just how they’re handled. Some occasions present themselves in horde-mode like scenarios, and present way too many enemies for such a tight environment. A very cheap way on the developer’s side, and does very little favor to compensate the intelligence of these enemy bots.
But putting combat aside, as for the rest of the game there is very little else players can contribute. The experience itself pretty linear, with the only interactive thing in cutscenes being the occasional quick time event and button mashing segment. There are audio logs and newspapers that players can seek out. But for the bulk of it, the game is mostly reliant on cutscenes, average combat and very slowly walking down hallways.
I suppose I should also discuss the games length, seeing as that’s been a recent issue that’s been pressed on in regards to its initial release. Length wise, it took me roughly 8 hours to complete, and that includes having sat through the cutscenes. Reasonable length I think for a modern action title. But given the games price range of 60 – 100 dollars, I can see this leading to further disappointment from the potential buyer; especially considering how the story barely holds up as being a complete experience.
By the end of it, The Order was a game that I had mixed feelings about. The presentation and technical achievements are very strong; and one acknowledgement that the developers should be commemorated for. The problems with the Order isn’t its length, but more of the fact that aside from it having so much production value; as a game it really has nothing else to show for it.