By this stage in the preview there were two questions that we desperately wanted answers too. First, what exactly was there that was unique enough about Order of War
to make us want to play it? Secondly, was the lunch that Square Enix put on going to be better than the roast pork belly and horseradish sandwich we had back at the office?
Answers, in short and in order; Order of War
’s main unique features are cinematic camera and a breadcrumb mission structure. Secondly, no – our leftover sandwich was by far the best sarnie we’d ever had. The pork was still all moist from dinner the night before and the horseradish, which normally isn’t suited to being spread on bread, gave the sandwich a wonderfully exotic feeling. Mmm. Let us know about your favourite sandwiches in the forums
The breadcrumb mission structure that Wargaming.net detailed in their presentation of Order of War
was definitely one of the more exciting things the game seemed to have up its sleeve. The basic idea of it is to give players an overall-objective for a level in the 30 second opening cutscene, but then break the actual action down into smaller and more manageable chunks that gradually fulfil that objective.
The cinematic camera can automatically find the best viewpoints
You might be told, for example, that the aim of one particular mission is to liberate a town establish a forward base from which later attacks can be launched. When you get into the game however you won’t be given total free reign and told simple ‘Kill the enemy’, as you might in something like Command & Conquer
. Instead you have many smaller objectives drip-fed to you that will eventually lead you to victory – destroy this truck, secure this hill, wipe out that artillery.
On the face of it it doesn’t sound all that thrilling an idea, but the motive behind it is interesting at least, with Wargaming.net hoping that players can be pulled through a much tighter and more cinematic experience than might be usual in a more open strategy situation. The feed of many smaller objectives should also stop players from ever being confused and ensure that there’s a strong sense of direction permeating through the game.
The cinematic camera however is a feature which is a lot more underwhelming, though Square Enix and Wargaming.net didn’t stop from making repeated mention of it and pouring a lot of attention onto it. Basically, you can press a button in the game and the computer will run some apparently complex equations and work out where the best camera point is. From what we saw it’s usually just an extreme close-up of whichever units you have that are currently in battle.
Understanding the strengths of each unit type is critical to success
Granted, the cinematic camera is a cool little gimmick – but we really question what actual worth it has. Surely if the game is interesting and engaging then you’ll spend most of the time playing it, not watching it and, while the graphics are definitely good, they aren’t good enough to make us want to watch identikit tanks for minutes on end. Really, the cinematic camera is a fun extra, not a legitimate feature and it worries us that Square and Wargaming.net are hyping it up so much because it belies the fact they may have little else to show.
The more we examined Order of War
, the more we believed that to be the case and, while the game certainly didn’t look bad, it definitely wasn’t at all unique or exciting. Every single thing we saw in the game had been done before elsewhere and while everything seemed to work together competently, it didn’t mean it hadn’t worked better elsewhere either.
There’s stiff competition out there in the WWII RTS genre, especially with Ubisoft’s RUSE
on the way and Men of War
just released, but there’s nothing here that might make Order of War
stand out. Even the name is nondescript!
While the final judgement is obviously going to wait until we’ve actually sat down and played a good amount of the game (because it may well play like a dream for all we know right now) our immediate impressions are that the game is woefully generic shelf fodder at best. It’s a real shame that, so far, the most remarkable thing about Order of War
is the delicious pork belly and horseradish sandwich we had after the preview event.
Order of War is being published as a PC exclusive by Square Enix and will be released 28th September 2009, but until then you can discuss the game in the forums.