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Order of War (PC) artwork

Order of War (PC) review

"If you like your RTS games simple, then this game is for you."

Ever wondered what would happen if you combined Company of Heroes with World in Conflict? You would get Order of War, Wargaming.netís latest World War II based Real Time Strategy (RTS) game. Although it isnít original, Order of War still manages to convey an identity of its own thanks to its focus on strategy, the inclusion of a cinematic camera, and a sense of epic scale not found in other WWII RTS games.

The story takes place in June of 1944 and contains two campaigns that you can play through: one for the Allies, and the other for the Germans. The Allied Campaign follows Operation Overlord, which was undertaken to liberate France, while the German Campaign features battles against the Allies at different occasions.

Just like World in Conflict, you donít have to worry about building bases or collecting resources. You have a pool from which you can spend resources and order units for the battlefield. Each unit costs a different amount of resources, and each unit is effective against a certain type of opposing unit, so you have to maintain a balance between the type of troops you have on the battlefield in order to counter whatever the enemy throws at you. You can also call in off-the-field assistance, such as bombing runs and artillery strikes, to decimate enemy lines. As in Company of Heroes, there are control points on the battlefield that must be captured in order to ensure victory in the mission. Control points are captured by destroying all enemy units positioned at strategic locations on the map and then holding that location for a certain amount of time.

Aside from dispensing with base building and resource collecting, Order of War also does away with unit micromanagement. This means that your units will automatically use whatever abilities they have according to the situation at hand. For example, infantry will use guns when fighting other soldiers, but will lob grenades when ordered to attack enemy tanks or when attacked by said tanks. There are no weapons to pick up, vehicles to repair, or defenses to build on the battlefield. Order of War simplifies combat so that you can focus more on strategy; simply having a large army on your side doesnít mean victory. You will have to use flanking maneuvers, defensive trenches, and terrain to your advantage to win. While interesting, this is nothing new. Whatever Order of War offers in gameplay has been done before, and done before with equal or better results.

The unique things about Order of War are the cinematic camera and its huge scale. Pressing the Cinematic Camera button moves the camera across the battlefield to show you the fight from various angles, sometimes zooming in close to your units, and sometimes flying high in the sky for a birdsí eye view of the ongoing encounter. Since you command companies of units rather than squads, which means that you usually have one hundred or more units under you, each encounter becomes truly epic in scale. You will see soldiers duck and crawl to avoid gunfire, soldiers loading and firing flak cannons, tanks emptying shells on enemies, and lots more. Turning on Cinematic Camera with hundreds of units on the map is like watching a movie rather than playing a game. It all looks very nice.

Although the Cinematic Camera makes the overall experience more enjoyable, there are details which do detract from that experience. There is no health bar for enemy units, which makes it impossible to figure out how much damage your units are doing to them, or how effective one unit type is against another. Also, the maps are quite large, and it takes soldiers a very long time to travel from one point to another (there is no fast-forward button).

In addition to the above, the objectives sometimes arenít very clearly described, which means you will be wandering the battlefield and getting your units slaughtered while trying to figure out what you have to do to clear the given mission. This becomes important because, at the end of each mission, you are given points that can be spent on various upgrades for your infantry and vehicles. These upgrades range from weapon effectiveness, to accuracy, and so on. The number of points that are awarded to you depends on how you performed on the mission, which factors in how many units you lost and how many you killed. So if you are unclear on an objective and lose more units than you should have, then you receive fewer points, and therefore fewer upgrades for your army.

While the game has excellent voice acting and spot-on cannon and gunfire sound effects, there is only one melody for the ENTIRE game. The same musical piece plays over and over again during the Allied Campaign and the German Campaign. As you can imagine, this becomes really annoying.

Thankfully, there is nothing annoying about the visual design of Order of War. The cutscenes are very slick and stylish, mixing up real footage from the war with facts and specifications about units. On the map, watching hundreds of units fighting it out looks great, especially when trees fall as tanks roll over them and explosions create holes in the ground. All of this adds realism to the experience.

In the end, Order of War is an average game that does nothing new or revolutionary beyond its presentation. It might appeal to RTS players who like simplicity in their games, but those looking for micromanagement or base building should look someplace else to fight their war.


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Freelance review by Sohail Saleem (November 02, 2009)

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