The Order: 1886 Review – More Please

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Sony’s long awaited, much hyped, and PS4 exclusive AAA title The Order: 1886 has finally been unleashed upon the World. Was it ready for prime time or was it not worth the pre-order?

Read our review to find out.

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Announced at E3 back in 2010 and developed by Ready at Dawn and SCE Santa Monica Studio, The Order: 1886 takes you to an alternative historic England where beasts that are half human and half monster plague the folks around the river Thames and across the city that is London. You play as Galahad, a member of the Knights of the Round Table that date back to King Arthur and continue on in their names, and have found a liquid source of health and longevity of life called Blackwater. This liquid has allowed these knights to live for centuries but can only heal them prior to death. If one knight dies, he is replaced by another worthy of the knighthood, and carries on in the name of the original Knight of the Round table.

In this reality, the Knights have access to technology that is far beyond what we know of the year 1886. Nicola Tesla is in the lab creating weapons and tools that are light years ahead of their time, but with the use of Tesla’s name, these weapons and tools actually become believable. It’s well known that he was on the cutting edge of technology and it was very smart for the developers to use his name. While weapons such as the Thermite Gun and Fragmentation Grenades could have been invented by Tesla without much fanfare, the two-way Communicator (walkie-talkie) would have revolutionized that field had it been shared with the masses.

Thermite Gun

Thermite Gun

The story itself, albeit way too short, was well written and is a smart, creative take on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The developers did a great job of laying the groundwork for what could be the next great series and they could easily pick-up where they left off, or even go back in time to look at the origins of The Order. With all of the sequels that are currently on the market, or in production, it’s a welcome breath of fresh air to see a developer taking a chance on a new IP. They probably would have helped to better establish this series by including more historic content behind The Order, and that in turn could have easily doubled the game’s length. This is a game that even a casual gamer could finish in five or six hours, and even playing on the hardest difficulty we were able to finish in seven or so hours.

The graphics for the game show what a first party developer can do with a AAA title and they are the best we’ve seen so far on a console game to date. Lighting, shadows, rain, character animations, just about everything gives the game a movie appearance and it looks stunning.

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Environments are very well detailed, we just wished we could have explored in an open world setting with more stuff to do. Having side quests could have added to the length of the game and would have added some re-playability that the game is sorely lacking. While there were quite a few collectibles in the game, almost all of them are along your linear path and only a few have to be searched for.

Usually, collectibles can help tell a story or add to the history behind characters or even relevant history in general. We didn’t get that from these collectibles. Here was another missed opportunity by the developers to add to the story and lore, maybe even creating a more in depth understanding of how The Order came to be. Images could have been used to tell the stories of fallen Knights or details of the monsters you were supposed to be hunting. Instead, we get innocuous images that tell us nothing about what we, the folks that should be buying into the future of the franchise, can look forward to in the future or what has transpired in the past.

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This is a game that screams for more to do and has a ton more story to tell. The basics for a great game are clearly there, and if developers Ready at Dawn and SCE Santa Monica Studio are open to suggestions, we have a few. The game could have used a puzzling element within the catacombs and underworld of London. The story goes back centuries, so why not give us a glimpse of that by having areas that require a study of The Order’s past in order to solve elaborate puzzles? We could have had to visit past Knight’s tombs to find relevant story information, with hidden clues to what is really going on in the current situation. Side quests could have been used for any number of things, from viewing historic landmarks to meeting historic figures from that time period.

The Order: 1886 is a fun game, with graphics that surpass any we have seen to date on a console, but is that really enough when coupled with a short story? For a full priced game, probably not. This game should have been sold at a lower price point and it probably would have been received better by the masses.

If you have a GameFly account, this game screams rental.

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