Brilliance In Mediocrity – The Order 1886 Review (PS4)

Brilliance In Mediocrity – The Order 1886 Review (PS4)

Console exclusives come with the burden of massive expectations. Regardless of who makes them, or what the concept is, there’s not many places to hide for the exclusive. The Order 1886 isn’t just another exclusive, it’s carrying the flag for the PS4, as well as for cinematic video game experiences. The problem is, like most games of it’s nature, the blurring of lines between cinema and video game, results in some major issues.

Set in a alternative London, The Order 1886 is a heft mix of classic themes from both history and Gothic horror. An ancient struggle between Humans and Half-Breeds (a mixture of human and animal) rages on. The Order exist to protect humanity and end the Half-Breed race. The uprising of a rebellion, and suspicious goings on within London, forces The Order into action.

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The Order 1886 is simply a technical marvel of it’s time. The visuals, direction and overall performance, are by far it’s best traits. While other games on this generation of consoles look good, The Order 1886 looks real. From the first second, till the last, the production value is nothing short of breath taking. The world moves and breathes in a manner you’d expect if you were to look out the window. The sheer level of detail in every nook and cranny all drip into a beautiful image, it’s a genuine work of art.

The sheer attention to detail showcased across most of The Order 1886′s settings is something that should be noted and awarded. It’s obvious that Ready At Dawn have went to great lengths to recreate London in all it’s Gothic glory, while adding a touch of alternative to it. The lighting plays a vital part in breathing life into 1886 London. Shadows cast in a organic manner, light reacts to it’s environments, the result is some truly breathtakingly framed locations.

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Ready at Dawn have arguably set a new benchmark for character models and animations. There’s a eerie sense of humanity to the faces of The Order 1886′s main cast. Their skin rumples as they talk, hair sways in the wind, eyes glare with a sense of life. Clothing lays upon the characters, reacting to movement in a totally natural way, it’s far from the stiff nature often seen in video games.

Presentation can only cover so many cracks, and The Order 1886 has plenty of cracks. Story is vital component to the cinematic focus, and unfortunately The Order’s tale is a bit of a mess. The plot tends to jump around, ultimately becoming rather predicable. It’s not that the plot is bad, it’s perfectly serviceable, it simply never makes the most of the universe it’s set in. The quality of the voice acting, and presentation, saves a number of potentially dull scenes.

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The sheer marvel of seeing a character’s face, match the emotion of the voice, is what prevents scenes from dragging. The key issue with the plot is the manner in which it ends. When a major plot point is revealed, it’s almost discarded within the next few scenes. The ending of the game almost entirely ignores what was presented as the turning point in the story. While the ending isn’t terrible, it feels more akin to the ending of a chapter rather than a story.

Gameplay is easily The Order 1886′s main fault. It’s not because it’s bad, it’s because it’s utterly dated. The ambition and success of the presentation is not reflected in the gameplay what so ever. A basic cover shooter, with a variation of bullet time, is exactly what The Order 1886 is. There’s nothing new, there’s nothing creative, it’s simply dated. Run, take cover, shoot, repeat, it’s the core of the game. There’s no room for tactics or creativity, there’s not even a gimmick to fall back on.

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To Ready at Dawn’s credit, they do try to change things up at various points, it’s just not very well implemented. Attempts at stealth are nothing but a frustration that feels totally alien from the rest of the game. There’s a few times when the player is tasked with looking at a box until some dialogue is thrown out, it’s sadly a comedic farce that truly cheapens the cinematic angle. The odd mini game is also chucked in, at some points feeling slightly forced reminders that they exist.

Potential is something The Order 1886′s gameplay had. Given the Half-Breed enemy, it feels like the lack of fantastical enemies, is a missed opportunity. Players find themselves gunning down humans for the most part, with the odd werewolf. The Human enemies are barely a threat, most enjoy hiding behind cover throwing out the odd shot. Werewolves are initially interesting to tackle, but soon become a utterly repetitive exercise of shoot, dodge, press triangle.

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Quick time events make up a rather sizable portion of The Order 1886′s spine. Each chapter includes at least a handful of quick time events, mostly attached to a plot points of sorts. In all fairness, the Quick time events don’t feel as intrusive as they do in other titles on the market, they do however feel far too regular. For every well placed quick time event, there’s two that come off as totally unneeded, ruining any feeling of immersion.

Performance wise, The Order 1886 is incredibly smooth. The frame rate never suffers from a noticeable drop, textures never pop in/out, draw distance is spot on and there’s little to no bugs to be found. Ready at Dawn have polished their work to the extreme, resulting in them creating a impressive technical achievement. After the year of broken and buggy games that was 2014, The Order 1886 comes onto the market in a technically flawless state.

The-Order-1886-Screenshot-660x330The Order 1886 is truly a technical marvel, raising the bar for visuals on consoles. Ready at Dawn display their ambitious attempts to create beautiful scenes in every chapter of the game. The same can not be said for the gameplay, it’s the exact opposite of ambitious. The Order 1886 is a dated playing experience wrapped up in top end presentation. It may be decent, but it’s hard to look past how rigid many of it’s mechanics are. The plot is adequate but far from compelling, which is a shame given how well it’s all acted. The end leaves a lot to be desired, as well as being blatant sequel bait.

 

With no replay value, and a campaign clocking in at around 6 hours (normal difficult), The Order 1886 is the definition of shallow. Average has never looked so good.

Sean Halliday


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