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The Order: 1886 TGS Preview: Steampunk Sherlock

| 18 Sep 2014 11:54
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The teaser trailer for The Order: 1886 promised a lot that the gameplay demo could not deliver on.

At this year's Tokyo Game Show, I was eager to get my hands on The Order: 1886, especially after hearing Greg and Sarah's impressions of it from E3. I'm a big steampunk fan, and a big Sherlock Holmes fan, so when I saw how The Order promised to bring steampunk tech into Sherlock's world, I was excited.

Indeed, when they sat us down to watch the pre-demo Tokyo Game Show 2014 trailer, that's certainly what it looked like. We saw Galahad, the game's main character, beating down thugs and werewolves with a wide variety of fantastical steampunk weapons, his fists, and even a bad-ass medieval sword, in a range of different, varied locales. The game seemed to channel the likes of not just Sherlock, but BioShock,Wolfenstein and more. It made me super pumped for the game, and then I played the demo.

First up, the demo I played at Tokyo Game Show seems to remain completely unchanged from the one Greg and Sarah played over three months ago. This straight away set off a couple of warning bells, as not having any new content to show for a game that is already suffering delays is not a good sign. Of course, I could have been swayed if the demo grabbed me and didn't let go, but it seemed to fall completely flat at almost every turn.

While the thermite rifle is a really cool and interesting weapon, with it's two-part operation (first, you have to spread metal particles around your foe, and then "ignite" them with a thermite blast), it's the only weapon I really got to play with. The secondary weapon was simply a pistol, and some of the coolest weapons from the trailer (like the lightning gun) barley featured at all.

I could have forgiven this if the demo showed me something new and something different, if I actually got to fight the mysterious werewolf creatures and get to peak into the titular Order's mystical world. But alas, all I got to do was shoot 1800's British thugs from cover.

While the guns handled well, moving between cover was quite frustrating. Unlike Gears of War, where hopping over a wall and running up to the next one felt fluid and natural, in The Order it's very clunky, and more often than not, unnecessary. I found that when entering a new area full of baddies, I could pretty much just stay in the same spot the whole time and wait for them to lumber into range. In fact, whenever I tried to move to a better vantage point, I would quickly get gunned down before I could get Galahad to "stick" to new cover. The game seemed to actively punish you for moving about.

The demo level, built of gray streets and... slightly darker gray buildings, was shrouded in that trademark "Jack the Ripper" London fog, and did manage to look pretty nice on the PS4 engine. The character models were spot on and detailed, and the weapons, as I said, looked really cool. I did however notice the 30 FPS limit start to show in some of the more graphically intensive sections.

So in the end, The Order 1886 impressed me with its trailer, then let me down with its demo. I do feel like the demo is not a great representation of what the final game can be, but that only begs the question of why the devs didn't bother to change it between E3 and now... Hopefully, they can get it up to scratch before its release.

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