Replay Value:
Overall Rating:
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Ready at Dawn
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
February 20, 2015

The Order: 1886 is the most controversial video game of the generation. Many argue that a seemingly ceaseless slew of negative headlines prior to the game’s launch are partly responsible for the lukewarm critical reception. Averaging only a mid-6 and earning mediocre scores from some of the industry’s largest and most respected sources, Ready at Dawn’s PlayStation 4 exclusive has fallen shy of expectations. And while I will agree that it’s not the AAA Game of the Year contender I’d hoped it’d be, I’ve come to the equally unfortunate conclusion that so many of my peers really handled this game poorly. Almost to the point where I think the critic community owes the developers a heartfelt apology.

First up, there’s no denying that this title is a graphical tour de force. Character detail is exquisite and the virtual world through which we travel is wonderfully designed. For those who have at least some semblance of artistic sentiment, they will appreciate such an atmospheric environment. The animations are beautiful as well, although I will say that at one point, the game’s frame rate basically broke for a couple minutes. Perhaps it’s an isolated incident but hey, I can only score my play-through and as such, that blunder keeps the visuals from earning a 10. It’s easily the best-looking game of the new generation thus far, as everything, from the subtle details of an alternate reality London to the intensely sharp special effects, is just a sight to behold.

The sound is almost as good; players should note and enjoy excellent voice performances throughout, along with a creepy, fitting soundtrack that enhances the atmospheric feel. In so many ways, the game plays like an action-based third-person shooter mixed with horror and suspense, so haunting effects are critical for the experience. Speaking of which, it’s that intended combination of action and horror that is reflected in the gameplay and I’ll get to that in a moment. For now, let me add that in addition to stellar voice performances we get a musical score that, while it doesn’t always play a big enough role in my estimation, is remarkably pretty. On the downside, it seemed like a few of the weapons sound too tinny.

Now, before diving into the nuts and bolts of the gameplay, let me add an important point: Gameplay will always be king. This is an interactive medium, first and foremost, so without solid and well-implemented gameplay, a bunch of pretty pictures are borderline useless. That will always remain true. However, to completely dismiss technical aspects like graphics and sound, to pretend they have no significant impact on a player’s enjoyment and immersion, is equally inane. It almost seems as if all these negative reviews have a tagline that would read, “oh, it looks great, but…” Quite frankly, there are some reviews that spend almost no time discussing the top-notch graphics and sound, which is not only unfair to the developers, but ultimately, unfair to the consumer.

There appears to be a nasty little secret floating through the critic community today. It says a reviewer can dock a game for having poor or mediocre graphics, but that same reviewer is not allowed to raise the score of a game for excellent graphics. It’s the offspring of the incessant “graphics don’t matter” horsesh** that often pervades so-called “enlightened” gamer forums. I will be the first to condemn a game for only looking good because again, this is an interactive venue. But to say some of the best graphics and sound the industry has ever seen is essentially meaningless is just beyond idiotic. What we see and hear contributes to sensation. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” So it is.