Monday, February 23, 2015

The Order 1886 Review

First announced several years ago at E3, The Order 1886 has finally been released on the PS4. Without question, The Order 1886 is a beautiful looking game. In addition to its superb graphics, The Order 1886 has a great concept for both a story and world. Unfortunately, the experience is marred by a poorly executed story and lackluster game play.

You play as Galahad, a knight that is part of an Order that can trace its origins back to the days of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The mission of this Order is apparently to protect England from domestic threats, with said threats being lycans (AKA Werewolves) and ordinary human rebels. The story is there but it is not told properly and there are too many missing details. The player is thrown into what appears to be a war that has been going on for ages, but you are never told much about it. Even the origin of the lycans and why the Order is fighting them is never explained. The Order 1886 also completely misses the point of collectible items. They are supposed to help fill in gaps of the story or add small details that would be missed otherwise. Yet most of the collectibles have little to do with the story and are just there for the sake of giving the player something to do in the environment other than go from point A to point B.

It has been said many times, but The Order 1886 is a short game. It doesn't take all that long to beat even if you do stop and examine some items from time to time. But even at the end it doesn't feel like the story got resolved at all, it just ends. In general the pacing of the game is a mess and sudden plot points are brought forth with little to no explanation. 

He sure does look familiar...

Gameplay in the Order 1886 consists of mostly walking around the environment, occasionally shooting some people or (rarely) lycans that get in your way. The rest of the time is spent watching cut scenes and responding to quick time events (QTE). While the quick time events are well designed and are not cheap shot unavoidable first time through deaths (like in Uncharted or that unholy abomination Clive Barker's Jericho), there are simply too many of them. Press Triangle to confirm you've looked at an object. Press Square to do some random action. Press X a bunch of times because Simon says. Because of the never ending onslaught of QTEs, walking away from the console while a cut scene is playing is inadvisable.

The Order 1886 provides the player with a lot of guns, but there are only a handful of times throughout the entire game where you get to use them. At this point gameplay devolves to generic third person cover based shooting where you just wait and pop enemies in the head when they start shooting. Fighting a lycan is different and much more interesting than fighting a bunch of humans, but unfortunately lycans are surprisingly rare even though they had been a big selling point in all the promotional stuff for this game. 

Beautiful London Skybox
As I mentioned earlier, The Order 1886 looks and sounds great. Although there isn't much you can interact with in the environments, they are highly detailed and everything feels life like from the streets of London to how the characters move around and interact with one another. The graphics and lighting lead to The Order looking and feeling like the rich cinematic experience that Ready at Dawn had hoped to deliver. This is also complemented by a great soundtrack courtesy of Jason Graves, whom is known for composing the soundtracks for other games like the Dead Space series.

Overall, I'd say The Order 1886 is a decent game. It isn't bad, but it isn't good either. There is a lot of potential for the start of a great series. So if Ready at Dawn decides to make a sequel, I hope that they have learned from their mistakes. In the mean time, The Order 1886 provides an okay exclusive experience for the PS4. If you choose to buy it, make sure to not have unrealistic expectations for this game because it will disappoint you.

DG – Decent Game (Approx. 75 in standard rating score)

Note: I've decided to switch to my own rating system rather than using numbers or grades. It is all arbitrary anyway given that reviews are nothing more than a (usually) well written out opinion of a game.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Return To The Old Republic Conclusion

Readers of Rated B For Blog will be well aware of the SWTOR project I did near the end of last year. I had planned on having this conclusion article posted sometime in December, but then I got busy with some other projects. So without further delay, here is the conclusion to my return to SWTOR.

The return to SWTOR was both interesting and nostalgic. It had been so long since I had last played the game that there was a bit of a relearning curve. From getting the UI customized to relearning the basics of combat and where everything is located. However, once I was over that curve, things started to fall right into place almost like I had never left the game. Of course, this process will apply to any MMO if you try to pick up where you left off awhile ago.

While SWTOR is pretty similar to most hot key MMORPGS like World of Warcraft and Rift, it differs in one particular way aside from being based on a popular movie series. Unlike WoW, SWTOR gameplay tends to be significantly more unforgiving. Fighting two enemies while leveling can be potentially tough, and trying to fight three or more becomes a very difficult task. This could be that SWTOR is tuned to be a more difficult game.

One thing I've learned is that while SWTOR can be fun, the universe and game play aren't enough to keep me interested to keep playing. That unfortunately hasn't changed since I stopped playing the game back in early 2012. Yet somehow SWTOR continues to maintain a player base, so clearly there is a niche market for this kind of game. I suppose that might have something to do with the fact that Star Wars Galaxies closed its doors sometime ago and those players had nowhere to go to scratch that Star Wars video game itch. I'd be interested in seeing how much money Bioware and EA earn from the Cartel Market, but I imagine they keep those numbers classified for business reasons. Regardless of profits, there appear to be quite a few players on planets and at the space station head quarters for the Empire and the Republic.

Needless to say, I don't regret giving SWTOR a second try. It was a change of pace from my usual choice of games. Not only that, but it was fun to keep a journal about my activities in the game as I progressed. I've decided that I will do the same thing with No Man's Sky when that comes out. It sounds like it will be quite a journey to go from the edge of that galaxy all the way to the center.

Stay tuned, there is lots of content coming up in the weeks ahead!