Order of War
As developer doing again a game about World War II is a daring project as this conflict has been subject of a laundry list of games. An original approach is therefore more than welcome and although Order of War at first sight gives the impression to deliver nothing new under the sun, in the end it does have its own charm.
In first instance I feared we would be getting again some classic battles on our plate (especially D-Day and the period surrounding it). Luckily that fear was partially unfounded. Operation Overlord does pass by but also lesser known (in games that is) battles appear.
In total there are two campaigns. In the first you’re playing with the Americans while in the second you get to get going with the Germans. Both are set towards the end of the war and objectives are received step by step from your commander. This adds an additional strategic dimension: just when you think it’s over, a new counter-attack arrives. Or something of the sorts. The fact that you’re never completely sure of what’s up next is an extra challenge. After a succesful mission end you can use your earned points to improve your men (more firepower, more speed and other stuff like that). Next to the campaign you can also play a single game where mostly the map decides what will happen. Three factions are playable: the US, the Germans and the Russians.
Order of War’s concept may remind of Company of Heroes, master in the genre, but in reality it’s a rare kind of strategy game. You don’t build a base, don’t collect resources and the only thing that comes near to the standard way of doing things are the points that are received for keeping checkpoints with which you can request support and backup. In the beginning you get a small army and for the large part of the game you’ll have to do with that.
Realism is an important part of this title. It’s almost always impossible to win by just charging your troops on the enemy. You need strategy and it better be good as you’ll be tested. Also it’s important to lose as little troops as possible as you can’t always replace them and losing men will also lower your score at the end.
Although overall I had quite a good time with the game, Order of War isn’t completely free of problems. The lack of extensive strategic options is the main downer. It makes things easy to control and gives a good overview but a number of basic elements wouldn’t have hurt. For instance there are no formations possible and placing your troops in a certain way can only be done by practically putting them in order one by one. By holding the right mouse button and moving the mouse you can choose to put your soldiers in a line or column but that’s not nearly enough.
A nice extra is the cinematic camera. With this you activate some kind of movie-like view on the battlefield: several different (moving) camera points of view pass by one by one. It’s not possible to give commands to your troops as long as this function is turned on so it’s not always usable to the heat of battle.
Overall the game is nicely dressed up, before each mission you get an intro movie that somewhat situates the battle in time, with some image material from back then and the properties (including plenty of numbers) of the weapons you can get going with. Also while playing your eyes get spoiled but you’ll need a computer that’s powerful enough to display all the eye candy.
The game is activated by Steam. Personally I don’t really like this as you’re forced to use Steam and need a constantly working internet connection, even when you want to play offline.
Order of War isn’t completely without beauty errors but that doesn’t hold the game back from delivering quite some fun. A nice game, certainly for those that like the genre.