|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|
Despite this, though, the earlier missions will supply you with a seemingly endless stream of reinforcements, which allows strategy to be throw out the window in favor of brute force. Later levels do become a bit more challenging, and a resource management system is introduced which plays out more or less like most other modern RTS games. You have a certain amount of points that you can spend on troops and armored vehicles, and the more control points you've taken over the faster you gain those points.
As new unit types come into play, and the control point-based reinforcement system comes into play, things get a bit more interesting. However, the clunky controls and slow response time of your units bottlenecks your strategic options. Rarely will you come across a mission that isn't best solved by drag-clicking your entire force and charging straight ahead into the fray.
It's not all bad. The game features a really neat option that instantly switches the camera from the user-controlled camera that hovers over the battlefield to a cinematic camera that zooms right in on units and captures the action like you've never seen it before in an RTS - up close and personal. This can be done on a moment's notice too, since the button to change the camera is always in the top-right of the screen. It's a good bit of fun to initiate a battle then switch to the cinematic camera to watch it play out. That said, the only reason the player is able to do this is because there isn't much to combat other than telling your units to attack. It's a nice consolation prize though, and it certainly lends to this game's action-based style.
This feature feeds into Order of War's greatest strength. While the gameplay itself obviously falls short in a number of different areas, the trappings that surround it are all quite good. The presentation of the story of the war is very well told, and the cutscenes before the battles give you a good idea of where and, more importantly, why this battle was fought. It's as much an educational tool as it is a video game. Beyond that the scenes feature a technical flourish that is unexpected but much appreciated.
The only significant problem with those scenes is that the voice acting is pretty bad. That's not really saying much for a video game, much less the RTS genre which has played host in the past to some notoriously awful cutscenes (e.g. the early Command and Conquer FMVs), but the faux tough guy attitudes of the war-time generals is rather poor and distracting.
Graphically, Order of War looks nice. It doesn't have all of the polish of other modern PC games, but it still looks good. Tanks are surprisingly well-detailed, and it's easy to distinguish different types of tanks even when zoomed out. The one issue that annoyed me is that the infantry foot soldiers are so small and camouflaged that I would often lose entire units of riflemen in the middle of a field - they blend in so well that they're easy to miss.
Overall, Order of War asks consumers to forgive quite a few major gameplay errors in favor of a $10 price cut from the PC standard MSRP. This is a game that will be a tough sell for anybody who is a veteran of real-time strategy games, but it's not entirely bad. The right type of gamer (RTS newcomer/casual tactician) will be able to have some fun with it.
CCC Freelance Writer