- + Stunning Graphics
- + Intriguing story, filled with twists and turns
- - Quick-time events fill in for most of the gameplay
- - Linear design offers zero replay value
Want to look beyond the score? Read the full written review below…
Ready at Dawn’s The Order: 1886 has received heavy criticism, but is it justified? That depends on your frame of mind. There’s no denying that gameplay is on the light side, with the studio relying on quick-time events to serve as the basis for interacting in fights, leaving a lot to be desired. Couple that with linear levels and no replay value, and what you end up with is a whole lot of looks and not much else.
I’ve tried to steer clear of any reviews that have been posted to help me maintain a clean view on things, but it’s been hard to avoid the most damning headlines. Despite all the negativity, The Order is absolutely stunning, and offers some of the best graphics I’ve ever seen. Having said that, I’d agree that saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover’ fits perfectly here. It may look beautiful, but go beyond the cover and you’ll find the pages are a little blank.
Set in a steam-punk victorian London, you follow the story of Galahad, a member of the Knights of the Round Table. With the task of defending the city from ancient evil, the campaign follows the twists and turns that follow; uncovering the truth behind the order he works for and revealing its deepest and darkest secrets. Most of the locations you’ll be exploring take part in the heart of London, taking you through tight spaces in third-person gunplay, darting from points of cover. It’s almost always dark, which added to the atmosphere nicely, though I sometimes wondered if adding a little colour might have given it a little more variety.
You’re going to spend a lot of time shooting things, and the arsenal you have at your disposal makes it quite enjoyable. Next to the usual sniper rifles, machine guns and pistols, weapons with more of a kick are made available by none-other than the Serbian American inventor, Nikola Tesla. With Tesla building all of your wonderful toys, more often than not your enemies end up losing a limb or two. With the Arc Gun you can release a concentrated burst of electricity and rip through any target. On the other hand is the Thermite Gun that lets you spray a round of thermite, then allowing you to shoot a ball of fire into the cloud, igniting it and burning anyone in the cloud.
Even with some nice gun fights it’s hard to get by the pacing at times, as you’re constantly led through each area at a specific speed, sparingly let loose to run around and loosen your shackles. On its first unveiling during E3 2013, I would have expected The Order to offer something a bit more open with its approach, perhaps including cooperative gameplay in open-ended sections of London. It’s a shame than even with high production values, you’re handled through nothing more than a very pretty set of environments, interlaced with cutscenes and a ‘look but don’t touch’ mantra. I will say that the photos and other news items scattered around each area look incredibly realistic, it was funny to examine a picture in-game that didn’t look one bit digital. A small but notable highlight in my eyes.
If you’re looking to get your money’s worth from this, you’re going to be hard-pushed. Are you a big fan of twisted stories filled with deceit and wrapped in a futuristic steampunk bow? You’re probably headed in the right direction with The Order. Does it bother you that you’re going to be watching more than actually interacting with scenery or characters? If not, then go ahead and buy The Order: 1886 now! If you do care about thoroughly enjoyable gameplay, alongside a stunningly beautiful game, I’d say wait for Uncharted 4. It sucks to say it, but beyond killing time through renting or picking this up cheaper in a bargain bin, it’s a hard sell.
I had high hopes for The Order, it’s just a shame that its core mechanics don’t quite match its presentation. With linear gameplay and next to no replay value, I only hope that a sequel provides something a bit more tangible.