Order of War Review for PC

Order of War Review for PC

Full of Flash, Lacking in Strategy

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.

Order of War screenshot

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.

Order of War screenshot

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.

Order of War screenshot

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.

Order of War screenshot

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.

The graphics are good for a budget title. Units are distinct, even from far away, and surroundings can be very beautiful. Although, infantry can be so small and camouflaged that you can lose them. 3.0 Control
The controls are conventional RTS-style. A couple of strange changes may slow down hardcore RTS players. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is very standard war-time orchestral, and sound effects are effective but never impressive. Voice over work is consistently bad. 3.3 Play Value
There’s a fair amount of content here, and the single-player has enough content to last at least 10-15 hours. The multiplayer probably won’t take you far though. 3.2 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Experience WWII warfare on an epic, cinematic stage that truly captures the intensity and scale of the battlefield.
  • Take command of an entire armored force consisting of up to 1000 soldiers, tank divisions, armored vehicles, and air force.
  • Players can choose between two different campaign modes offering completely different storyline, missions, objectives, and environments.
  • Experience the unique dynamic camera that allows players to command troops over huge geographical scale whilst maintaining movie-like vistas and detail.
  • In-depth gameplay modes featuring 2 x different campaign modes, multi-player, Deathmatch, and skirmish mode.

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