Order of War is one of the first steps for Square Enix to appeal to a broader audience”"it’s published by them, but developed by Wargaming.net, and is quite unlike the kind of title you expect from the RPG behemoth.
Order of War is set during World War II and has the player playing through famous historical battles as either Americans against Germans in France or German forces versus Soviets in Poland. You control almost all the aspects of the battles including airstrikes, ground troops, paratroopers, tanks, artillery and even managing reinforcements.
Publisher: Square Enix
Sep. 22, 2009
Each level in the game starts out with some black and white video footage of actual battles that have lead up to the scenario about to be played, which I found gives the game much more depth, as opposed to just dropping you into a battle. The game then zooms in on all the units, tanks and vehicles and begins to display many statistics on the screen at once: everything from number of troops to the firepower of missiles to almost blueprint like schematics of certain vehicles. You are then briefed on your objectives as parts of the map are revealed to you. The objectives range from protecting allied convoys, capturing occupied villages and holding positions.
The onscreen HUD displays the number of platoons you control and each of their conditions, a mini map and your resource points. Resource points increase at a steady rate over time and can be used for a variety of things, including paratroops and airstrikes. Each option may cost you a different amount of support, further adding depth to the game play. Many factors can affect success such as varying geography/topography. Tanks and artillery having longer range when on top of a hill and vice versa when firing from downhill; infantry have better cover when in a wooded area. Infantry can hide in trenches or houses for added cover which can give you a great advantage.
The enemy forces have pretty much the same abilities and resources as you do and it is especially challenging to get through a location when the opposing forces are in the houses all around you. Infantry can also load into trucks to faster get to a map location faster, though loading and reloading the trucks can use up valuable time which you don’t always have. There are other disadvantages to using trucks as it puts an entire platoon in one place which makes an easy target for the enemy, and when a truck full of troops is destroyed the whole platoon dies. There are also trucks for artillery that carry anti-tank cannons that take some time to set up but once set up they can become a key to victory in any battle.
Statistics are displayed after each mission is completed and, based on your performance, you are awarded medals, such as purple hearts, and points to upgrade your units in future missions. The upgrades are broken down into Infantry, Artillery and Tanks, and include increases in accuracy, speed, etc. For example you can upgrade your infantry’s accuracy with firearms to level 1 and, if you have enough points left, increase to level 2 and so on. These changes permanently effect the performance of your units through the whole game.
The graphics looked nice at an aerial view, but can zoom in so close that you get a great feel of how it would seem to forces on the ground, though the troops can seem a bit blocky zoomed in. There is also a cinematic function where the screen goes into a letter box view and weaves through the battlefield at different angles and speeds to give you the feel of watching a war movie. Though this function is well done I never found many times to use it as there was so much going on.
In the first level I found there was so much going on I wondered how I could ever command so many units in real time. But after some practice and finding out just how useful and important the pause function was to the game, I started to really enjoy myself. I soon felt rather engrossed in the whole experience. Though the game has some problems, the minimap did not rotate with the camera so it was hard to navigate at times. I also felt the game assumes you know WWII lingo like what a Howitzer or Nebelwerfer is. The strength of the infantry felt weak and I found them more useful as distractions then actual fighters, as the game seems to rely heavily on tanks. The infantry AI seemed lacking as at times, and became rather annoying when they wanted to crawl on their stomach all of a sudden. The distance you could zoom out also felt rather small.
Blast Factor: Order of War is a solid game despite some balance issues. The game really shines the most in the heat of battle and the way it sets up the scenario for you. From someone who was never really interested in WWII based games, I surprisingly found myself enjoying Order of War.
Order of War is a PC exclusive, available at retail for $39.99. A copy of this game was given to us by the publisher for review purposes.