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Order of War Preview

Order of War Preview

Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC Exclusive
Expected Release Date: 28th September 2009

If the world of business is at all like the world of war then it’s obvious that Square Enix is on the offensive right now. The previously Japanese-centric developer and publisher is currently expanding massively and is attempting to seize a dominant position in the west.

Not long ago the developers of Final Fantasy swooped in and bought up Eidos, gaining control of powerful western franchise like Tomb Raider, Hitman, Thief and Deus Ex in the process. Now, the company is publishing the first in a long line of western-focused games – a blend of cultures and influences which has the potential to be very exciting.

Square Enix’s thinking however seems a little flawed if you ask us and it seems like the publisher is jumping in at the deep end with one of the most crowded and unexciting genres out there. Having seen how popular World War II games are in the west, Square Enix has decided it’d like a slice of that pie and that it’d make an excellent place to start in the western market.

Order of War Preview
Order of War lets players take complete control of the camera

Thus, Square has announced Order of War – a World War II based RTS being developed by Wargaming.net, with the focus being on Square’s usual sense of epic-scale and cinema.

Ostensibly, Order of War isn’t all that different from most other strategy games (and issue that we’ll discuss a bit more later), with the player taking the role of a commander in either the American or German army. In the Allied campaign you lead the American forces as they push through France on the western front, while the Nazi campaign has you on the defensive as the Germans in the East. Whichever campaign you favour you’ll end up pushing through a number of pivotal battles – everything from Stalingrad to Omaha Beach.

These were the details that the Wargaming.net spokesperson immediately laid out for us when we sat down to view the game and, to be honest, we were about as enthused as we would be if he had presented us with bucketful of shaved-off armpit hair. It must have showed on our faces that we were unimpressed too because as he went on he made repeated reference to how the Normandy landings in Order of War would be bigger and better than we’d ever seen before – and every time he did our hearts sank a little more.

Order of War Preview
Players will get to direct all manner of air and land vehicles

Don’t get us wrong, we completely understand that these were pivotal locations during the war and we get how they’ve become symbolic of the entire struggle, mainly thanks to the efforts of Tom Hanks and Private Ryan. On the other hand though, we couldn’t help but feel that we’ve been there, done that and that if re-hashing Omaha Beach is the best opening gambit that the Order of War developers can come up with then maybe we shouldn’t be all that excited.

To be fair though, we got to see a fair chunk of the game in our preview of it and based on that we could see just how big and better-looking Order of War was planning to be. The graphics looked amazing both from a distance and up-close, with players given total freedom with the game camera. The levels go on for miles and encompass entire towns, coastlines and forests and you can view it all from any angle or magnification. It was all very evocative of World in Conflict, but slightly greener and with older-looking units.

In fact, the more we learned about the gameplay, the more apt we thought comparisons to World in Conflict were. While some of the details are different a lot of things are strikingly similar and, just like in World in Conflict you’ll spend a lot of time waiting for reinforcements to make it to the battlefield, rather than churning tanks out of your war factory. The game is also incredibly focused on the making you learn the best tactics for individual units, rather than saving up for tank rushes and the like.

A well-used and decently experienced infantry man can take easily take down a tank or two, but it all depends on using cover and the environment effectively rather than how quickly your soldiers can spam grenades on the enemy.