|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Wargaming.net||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 22, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4 (Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Andrew Groen
Square Enix's World War II-themed real-time strategy game, Order of War, is a relatively competent if wholly unremarkable game that suffers from a series of shortcomings that will disappoint many long-time RTS fans looking for a full-fledged experience. Though at a budget price of $40, some of its defects are easier to forgive.
If you're a newcomer to the RTS genre, then Order of War is a pretty solid introduction to the genre. It features a straightforward, simple take on RTS that doesn't get bogged down in minute tactical details in the way RTS classics like Company of Heroes often will. It features a low difficulty level, and only very basic strategies are necessary in order to obtain victory.
On the other hand, if you're a hardcore RTS fan, then Order of War is almost certainly not the right game for you. While great for genre newcomers, veterans will find Order of War sorely lacking in the strategy department. Order of War has fewer options or tactical possibilities than many WWII RTSs released over a decade ago. Don't go into this game expecting a thinking man's experience. What you'll find is more akin to an action game with RTS-style controls.
For the most part, tactical options are limited to basic flanking maneuvers. And even these simple maneuvers can be made far more difficult by an AI system that leaves much to be desired. Most of the time, the best idea is just to mob together all of your tanks and infantry and attack en masse at the enemy's flank. The reason this is the most effective is because the unit AI is too stupid to manage even basic functions without constant babysitting. If you give them an order to advance and attack a position, they will do so, but upon completion they'll just sit there. Even if they're being pounded and destroyed by an anti-tank gun, they'll wait and be blown up. You have to babysit every unit, or else you run the risk of finding only a mangled corpse when you return.
The other reason is that although the amount of units at your disposal is pretty huge (and is one of the more fun aspects of the game), the conflict maps are small. Most maps consist of either a huge, open field, or one choke point. This limits strategy massively, as there is no option to divide your force and tackle multiple objectives because the enemy is massed in one place.
The biggest fault though is that units can hit anything, anywhere as long as it's within their firing range. That means that even if there's a giant building between you - or a forest, or a hill - you still stand a pretty good chance of catching a shell. In addition, friendly tanks will lumber about for precious seconds lining up the precise firing angle, while enemy armor will often shoot you regardless of which direction they're aiming. Even if you're at a 45 degree angle from where the muzzle of their gun is pointing, you're still going to get hit. It's an unfair advantage that will often see tank-vs-tank encounters resulting in 2:1 casualties in favor of the enemy.