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    The Order: 1886, On-grails shooter is a mythed opportunity

    This really wants you to pay attention. It’s like a child juggling hammers on the edge of a slippery precipice, repeatedly shouting “Look at me!” Because it’s a beautiful, interesting child, you would have been paying attention anyway, but it doesn’t trust you. Later, there’ll be a sad, slow moment when it slips and shatters on the rocks below, and then you’ll both understand.

    That analogy went weird quickly. It works though (trust us). The Order: 1886 has all the tools to be a compelling, linear single-player adventure in the same mould as Uncharted, albeit about fighting werewolves in a romp across an alternative Victorian-era London. a better mould, perhaps; certainly a prettier one, with wonderfully flappy cloth physics. Instead, the game fails to capitalise on the promise of its early stages. after captivating with some moments of visual pizzazz, it crumbles in its final stages, failing to deliver a wholly satisfying experience.


    The pre-release worries were that The Order would feel like one long QTE. Thankfully, this isn’t the case. It’s actually a handful of very similar QTEs, interspersed between moments of lumpen strolling and predictable cover shooting. Note we said ‘predictable’, not ‘bad’ more on that in a bit. Some of the events are simple, timed presses of a button, such as the predictably brutal stealth takedowns (nobody makes gentle takedowns any more); others are full-on fights with the half-breeds. although these happen in different circumstances, the animations are precisely the same each time, making it feel like lethargic reuse of assets.
    “When the final credits roll, you’ll want more, but for the wrong reasons”
    Knight Moves
    This isn’t the game’s biggest problem, though. The world is such an interesting place that more time spent gently exploring it would have been welcome. Instead, combat becomes the focus of most missions. The shooting isn’t terrible, but it rarely feels as sharp as the likes of Gears Of War, or *shudder* army Of Two. Lead character Grayson is such a big, sluggish lump that popping in and out of cover feels sticky and reluctant. avoiding grenades is haphazard. Worse still, there are moments where the combat carries on for so long that you assume something has broken.

    Weapons range from standard pistols and rifles to fancier steampunk oddities. Unfortunately, you’ll spend most of the time with the former. You’re only given the chance to play with the truly destructive weapons on occasion. When you do, it’s great fun vicious arcs of electricity, exploding heads, and flares of searing thermite. But sadly, over the course of an eight-hour adventure, these moments are infrequent. The game needs these flashes of measured chaos to break the monotony, and they don’t come often enough.

    Instead of offering varied, reactive combat, attempts at diversity come through poorly executed stealth sections. If that sounds like a cliché and it does that’s more of an acknowledgment that one-hit-kill sneaky bits rarely add anything to a game. One particularly wretched mission has you creeping around a garden, shivving guards in search of a key. If you get spotted once, it’s insta-death. You’ve probably already worked out that the key is on the last guard, because you’re clever like that. It’s a tired way of extending a game which adds nothing to your overall enjoyment.

    Shock Treatment
    That all sounds negative, but you’ll probably have noticed the not-too-shabby score. That’s because despite all of this, we don’t hate The Order. It’s a fascinating world which manages to compel through the sheer richness of its presentation. The alternative-history setting is absorbing, if only because it’s so detailed and different. Characterisation is less successful. Steve West’s performance of Grayson is incredible: snarling, motivated and believable. He’s an iconic hero, made more convincing because of some detailed design and beautiful animation. Sadly, his companions are weak. Lady Igraine is entirely devoid of charm; an inexplicable moaning scowl, who’s rude to everyone for no discernible narrative reason. Nikola Tesla is substantially less interesting than his brilliant real-life inspiration: this one makes guns that shoot lightning; the real Tesla was a sexy science warlock who patented thousands of inventions and fell in love with a pigeon. No, really: look it up.

    It doesn’t help that the script is nonsense. It must be tricky to write dialogue for an alternate history, but The Order is a masterclass in how to get it wrong. most of it sounds like a teenage fanfic approximation of how Victorians spoke. Want proof? Here’s an actual line: “Fare you well, knight. Would only we could have met on… different circumstances.” It’s pure B-movie awfulness, delivered with the lofty gravitas of high school Shakespeare. Sitting uncomfortably next to all this are some deeply misguided moments of modern shooter parlance. The words ‘frag out’ would feel more welcome in a mario game than they do here. The entire structure of The Order’s lavish world is immediately undermined when the proud, noble Sir Percival shouts, “stealth mode… activated!”

    Were And Tear
    Even the story disappoints. The pacing is off throughout, thanks to a disastrous decision to foreshadow coming events at the start of the game. It’s not technically a spoiler, but you’ll soon work out who’s good, who’s bad, and who’s probably dead. The world is interesting enough that you’ll keep playing, but the sense of discovery and wonder is dulled. There are some nice attempts at ambient storytelling notes scattered about and so on but they add very little.

    At a solid seven or eight hours, length really isn’t an issue: over that time you’ll feel like you’ve experienced a unique world and some glorious setpieces. The bigger problem is that the game comes to a flaccid and disappointing end. Very few narrative threads are tied up, and there’s conclusion which can only be resolved by a sequel, or horror of cross-bred horrors story DLC. It’s this that contributes to the sense that this isn’t worth £50, rather than any accusation of brevity. When the final credits roll, you’ll want more, but for the wrong reasons. It’s a shame, since The Order promised so much.

    The Devil’s In The Details
    How little things bring The Order to life
    Many of the game’s greatest moments happen when it’s not forcing story stuff upon you. Little things, like the ability to pick up objects and inspect them closely, really hammer home just how beautiful the game is. This level of detail is most noticeable in the facial expressions a single raised eyebrow is capable of revealing more of what’s happening than five minutes of heavy (usually rubbish) dialogue. As much as the jumbled buildings and misty streets impress, the animation gives otherwise flimsy characters a sense of weight and purpose. In this respect, The Order is a triumph. There’s also a moderate attempt at ambient storytelling: letters, notes and waybills hint at future plot twists.

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