The Order: 1886 (2015) ★★★
The Order: 1886 (2015) ★★★
Review by Lowell-San
Published on June 9, 2016
Developed by: Sony Santa Monica, Ready at Dawn
Platform of Record: PlayStation 4
Distribution: Optical Disc, Digital
Genre: Shooter > Third-Person
"The Order is a movie!" No shit. That's because you went to YouTube and watched someone else play the game, and now you're venting because you're poor and your mom won't buy you a PlayStation 4.
Yeah kids, contrary to what Reddit may have told you, there's real, actual, delicious videogame in this videogame, centrally of the third-person shooting kind. And maybe the hardcores will cry about the gameplays, but what we've learned from these games is that the shooting only needs to be good enough to deliver the visual masturbation we expect from the industry's thing for Hollywood. And on a room-to-room basis, I defy you to find even a handful of games with the breadth, detail, and density of The Order. The shooting, the storytelling, it's all a medium for some of the most gorgeous venues in any videogame ever.
But the problem, ironically enough, is that The Order doesn't go far enough, that it is not ENOUGH of a movie, and pretty pictures aside, there's little that screams movie spectacle. Because a game like Uncharted 2 would put you in full control of the moment, with trains running off the tracks, characters dropping witty banter, and doing it without sacrificing the player's control over the action movie. The shooting and the storytelling was just a vehicle for the bombast. But the shooting in The Order is just a vehicle for some of the nineteenth-century's finest knee-high barriers, and with it, things that Gears did a hell of a lot better a decade ago.
Basically, the way to describe it is that Uncharted and friends were building the movie AROUND the mechanics, placing the bombast on top of the shooting and platforming, while The Order is building the movie INSIDE of them. And even in those uneventful moments where everything slows down, entire portions of your skillset are being restricted in order to fulfill the "director's intent", because ludonarrative whatever is a thing and Santa Monica was afraid of it. So you're not only missing out on the bombast, but there's an art to making linear games feel spacious, and The Order is the art of steampunk London, firmly on the rails.
So maybe the poor children who can't afford a PlayStation aren't entirely wrong -- even if we should still mock them for being poor -- but I've said it before: I'll take a flawed and ambitious game over a simplistic and refined one, and even within the realm of simplistic third-person shooting, The Order is pushing boundaries and details that other games haven't done. And unlike many of its contemporaries, it at least has the decency to introduce its ideas at a rapid pace, and it assures very few sequences are cut from the same cloth. So it would be cold-blooded to claim that The Order occupies the same camp as a David Cage shitshow or a beautiful mess like BioShock Infinite, and it's far, far better than any of the mouthbreathers would have you believe. Just turn off your brain, sit back, and enjoy the film, alright?