Available on: PlayStation 4
Release Date: February 20th 2015
Genre: Action-Adventure / Third-Person Shooter
I’ve steered clear of The Order: 1886 since its release in early 2015. It was announced with much hype and fanfare at E3 2013 and was received with lukewarm acclaim once it was eventually released after nearly five years in development. Criticism was given for a whole host of reasons including frequent quick time events, general gameplay letdowns and most importantly its overall length and replay value – and as a regular guy in his early 30’s with a dead-end job and a family to provide for the replay value factor is becoming more and more essential to me as I gradually get older and poorer. I purchase maybe five games a year (excluding the crap I pick up on Steam sales, but I’m dealing with that), one of those always being Football Manager which guarantees me at least a hundred hours of gameplay, so that hopefully gives you an idea of the type of game I’m willing to part with my money for. The Order: 1886 is not one of those games, I happened to rent it and I’m glad I did.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy what The Order had to offer, more or less. It looks incredible, dragging this review on a positive note for the time being, as an alternative universe 19th century London with a fantasy steampunk twist has never looked better. However going straight back into negative territory as good as the game looks there is definitely a ‘look but don’t touch’ vibe as you progress through the games fifteen chapters, with an extremely limited and linear path to guide you along your way almost from start to finish. 19th century London in The Order reminds me of Neo-Paris in the late 21st century found in Remember Me in that there is an amazing city out there begging to be explored, but you can’t, and you are forced to stick to what is generally a very strict set path.
The voice acting is another plus for the game, as each actor provides their character with likeable traits. Several standard tropes are present including the French ladies man and feisty strong lady, meaning while likeable the cast is somewhat generic and forgettable. I couldn’t even tell you the names of most of them, and I only finished the game 30 minutes before writing this review.
The gameplay found in The Order: 1886 also garnered much criticism from big-name publications and players alike, which I find to be only somewhat warranted. There is a reasonably vast array of weaponry for you to use throughout the game and a couple which are delightfully yet unnecessarily over the top on the violence scale, but the way you’ll go about killing several hundred people over the course of your play through is rather cut-and-paste – The Order is primarily a cover-based shooter, so you’ve almost certainly played a game with identical mechanics such as Gears of War, Mass Effect, Uncharted and of course Space Bunnies Must Die… probably. The Order does everything right, but nothing different or unique as you’ll mostly be firing from cover from start to finish, barring quick time event sequences.
Now I hate quick time events. You know the ones, press X at the correct time, press circle to dodge that… urgh, it’s what I hate about games like the later Tomb Raider and Resident Evil games, and The Order is no different… apart from two boss fights where it’s done quite well I must admit, but even these battles are identical and one of those is the final boss fight.
Game length next, and this is a frustrating one. You’ll spend a hell of a lot of time in cutscenes, and longer still just walking and talking. You will walk a lot throughout the story, and observing stuff for no real reason. There are around 60 collectibles to find along the way too and while most are in plain sight as you slowly wander around some are off the beaten track, but even during those rare moments you are allowed a bit of exploration time there’s nothing to be found from one dead end to the next due to most collectibles being easy to discover. I completed the campaign in six hours over two days and then spent a further 30 minutes or so using the chapter select option to find a few missing collectibles, but now I’ve earned the Platinum trophy I’ve got no reason to ever play it again. I would be very, very annoyed if I had paid £40 on release for The Order, and for that reason I am very glad I rented it. Don’t get me wrong, despite its numerous flaws I did enjoy the experience and feel it is slightly undeserving of its 63% Metacritic aggregate rating, but even so I cannot recommend buying The Order: 1886. Either rent it like I did or borrow it from an unfortunate friend. Better yet wait until it’s inevitable release on PlayStation Plus.
19th century London looks fantastic
Decent voice acting makes for generally likeable characters
Boss fights are satisfying
You can’t explore 95% of what you see
Very short game with no replay value
Way too many cutscenes and quick time events