The Order: 1886 has been getting a lot of bad press lately, a lot or irate reviewers are saying you shouldn’t even play it. I really don’t understand what all the hate is about.
A mini F.A.Q.
Should you play The Order: 1886?
Yes. You should play it. Don’t necessarily buy it, unless you have a lot of money to throw away, but definitely play it, rent it like I did or borrow it from a friend.
Is The Order a new benchmark in gameplay and truly a Next-Gen title?
Absolutely not. Other than the graphics engine (which is simply astonishing) there is nothing next-gen about The Order at all, in fact, most of the gameplay mechanics are very much last-last-gen.
Is there any innovation in The Order?
None whatsoever. Again, apart from the graphics engine (which is simply unbelievable) there is the opposite of innovation, whatever that is, Stagnation? Devolution? Lazy copy-catting? All of the above. The Order not only doesn’t innovate but it doesn’t even copy properly, it has a number of very questionable gameplay choices that render the game extremely annoying and serve no purpose whatsoever, other than to pull you out of any game immersion you might have achieved.
Uh… so why should I play this piece of crap?
Because as an experience, it, mostly, succeeds. Let me explain. For me, gaming is about joy. Does the game bring me joy of any kind? It could be a great story, where you care about the characters and their fate like The Last of Us; or an epic space-faring story where you get to explore new worlds and have a hand in planetary relations like Mass Effect 2; or it could be funny and well-executed action where you get to shoot people in creative ways like Bulletstorm. Whatever the case, there has to be some type of joy to invest time, energy and money into playing a game. Playing The Order did bring me joy as I will elaborate on in a bit.
First, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way so it’s not haunting us like Oscar Wilde’s Canterville Ghost.
The Bad Stuff
The Order is a QTE-infested crap-fest
Which serves no other purpose than to annoy you and pull you out of the experience. I’m not exaggeration when I say it’s infested, it’s riddled with the little buggers. Even the cinematics are interrupted with QTE idiocy. Imagine you’re watching Lord of the Rings and it’s a fight scene, there’s Aragorn chopping heads off and you’re enjoying the shit out of it, yelling at the screen “Go Aragorn, protect them useless hobbitses!” when all of a sudden the movie pauses and you get a message on the screen saying “Grab your remote and enter the number 666 in it!” What the fuck? And if you don’t do this fast enough, the movie will stop, rewind 5 minutes and you get to see everything all over again until it gets to the point where you have to enter the numbers. Fail again, rewind, repeat. What the fuck?
This is what watching a cinematic in The Order is like. You’re enthralled by the excellent voice acting and mesmerized by the beautiful graphics and trying to pay attention to the story when, in the middle of the fucking story, you have to find the controller and press some fucking buttons. Completely useless and extremely annoying. There is no reason to do this, no reason at all, it doesn’t make you a willing participant in the story or proceedings, it simply annoys the shit out of you and pulls you out of the whole cinematic experience and pisses the crap out of you!
QTEs need to die, now! They were all the rage when God of War popularized them but that was 10 years ago or more, we’ve moved on to other gameplay mechanics, QTEs are useless, they’re no good, in fact they’re evil and a pain in the arse, they’re just there for lazy developers, there is no excuse to have a QTE in a PS4 game, none at all. They’re not fun! Get that through your thick heads, developers!
The instant-death stealth fails are the cancer of gameplay and The Order has them in Spades
Another gameplay mechanic borrowed from the PS1 days. These are worst than the QTEs, you’ve made it through a whole level without getting spotted and you have that one last guard who has X-ray vision and can see through walls and potted plants and you’re trying to take him out when the bastard spots and you and… instant-fucking-death with instant-fucking-fail, you have to start over from the beginning of the fucking level, are you fucking kidding me?
Instant fails were never acceptable, but technically defensible in the older generation hardware (PS1, PS2) where the horsepower didn’t exist to craft alternatives, you couldn’t use artificial intelligence to make enemies react differently when they spotted you, the memory and CPU power simply wasn’t there, so you had to use this disgusting mechanic of instant fail. But in today’s consoles there is absolutely no reason to do so. Learn from games like The Last of Us or Dishonored, or Deus Ex, when stealth failed you had to resort to go guns blazing or try to hide until the enemies gave up hunting you, a much more satisfying solution, it gave you options. Like QTEs, instant-fail stealth is not fun, it’s lazy, terribly annoying and ultimately unacceptable.
Cinematic black bars along the top and bottom of the screen should be saved for… cinematics!
Not for the fucking gameplay! These black bars are always present, always, and there’s no way to remove them. This is more than annoying, this is a serious problem because it reduces your visibility by one third which makes a very big difference when you’re in combat, crouched behind cover and can’t see what the fuck you’re supposed to be shooting at or who’s shooting you.
The developers stated that they wanted to create a “cinematic experience” or some shit but all it does is really detract from the gameplay. Also, there is no indication of when a cut-scene is over and control is handed back to the player. The nice thing about cinematic is that they give you a pause in the game. When done properly, a cinematic not only helps tell the story or flesh out the plot, but it also gives you a respite, time to stretch, breathe, relax a little and watch the action on screen and really appreciate all the effort the developers (or third-party) have put into them. Then the black bars fade and you know you have to get back in the action, is a nice visual queue. The Order not only loses all this by keeping the black bars on all the time but also makes it harder to play the game for no reason at all. The fact that the game also spoils the cinematics with the damn QTEs just adds insult to injury.
That’s a lot of bad stuff. Is there anything good in this flea-ridden dog?
The Good Stuff
The Graphic Engine
No doubt the centerpiece of this game. This is like a demo for what the PS4 can do and it is astonishing. I’ve never seen anything like this before, on any platform. I don’t know how they managed it but the textures, the lighting, the attention to detail in every surface makes this game worth playing. I must have spent hours just looking around at everything, just the old brick textures are enough to make you want to move to London! If you have the good fortune of living in Europe, Asia, etc where you can find really old buildings, go out and look at them, then come back and play The Order and be amazed at how they’ve captured it all exquisitely. I could go on for days on this, but you have to play it to experience it, screenshots and videos don’t do it justice.
The little details in all the settings in incredible, a carpenter’s shed chock full of lovingly crafted tools, the roofs of London filled with cigar but and other detritus which looks delicious in the light of the moon, the old photographs littered around every scene that you can examine front and back (for no reason at all, they just don’t matter in the game but they are exquisite to look at it), the sunset in the harbour, the clothes, the clothes! As I said, I could go on forever but you’ll have to experience it yourself.
The developers spent an inordinate amount of time researching, scanning, texturing and modeling clothes for some strange reason. I guess one of the main guys is really into clothes or something and you can tell, boy can you tell! The clothes are one of the centerpieces of the game, yes, it’s very odd that a shooter would take clothes so seriously but it definitely pays off visually. I just wish they would have dedicated as much effort, time and money to gameplay as they did to clothes.
Are gorgeous. Every time you are given a new weapon you have a brief chance to examine it closely, it’s gun porn, it’s awesome. Unfortunately, some of these scenes are timed and they take away your chance to ogle this beauty too quickly. Inexplicably, while you’re carrying the gun you don’t get a chance to look at it, a real opportunity missed.
The Voice acting
Voice acting is superb in this game, extremely well done and no audio lag. Again, this is something that you need to experience, it can’t really be described.
The Lack of Bugs
Yes, it’s very sad when, these days, a lack of bugs is considered a salient point in a commercial game but such are the times we live in. Look at Triple A games and the crap that they put out (Assassin’s Creed anyone?), games that don’t work on release and you have to wait days for a patch (Battlefield 4, I’m looking at you, and of course Assassin’s Creed Unity). This is a rant for another time, but it’s simply unacceptable, especially from the biggest companies in the industry. I was playing Dying Light, a wonderful, joyful game (and I’m not into zombies at all, quite the opposite) and was frankly surprised at the lack of bugs, I couldn’t believe that in a game of such breadth I couldn’t find a single bug, incredible. That’s how traumatized we’ve become thanks to EA, Activision and Ubisoft’s shoddy releases.
I realize that the bad seems to overwhelm the good, but as an experience The Ordermostly succeeds. If you can look past the really bad stuff (and there is quite a bit of that) I think you’ll have a good time, just be patient with it. Rent it, don’t buy it and then wait until they lower the price to buy it so you can show your friends what the Playstation can do.
What I still can’t understand is how the video games journalists are destroying The Order while heaping accolades on stale shit-fests like Assassin’s Creed Unity or Battlefield Hardline, two games which are nothing more than a rehash of previous games with a semi-fresh coat of paint. That makes no sense to me whatsoever.