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Order of War: Challenge

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Steam
Developer: Wargaming.net
Media: Download/1
Players: 2 - 4
Genre: Real-Time Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

Who doesn't love it when they get what they asked for? Not too long ago I played and reviewed Order of War, or OoW as you would see it in the forums. I said then, "I would like to see a more challenging title quickly on the heels of this one, as long as it can keep the same graphical and gameplay quality." Well, the Wargaming.net folks heard me loud and clear, and delivered us Order of War: Challenge. They even threw what I was looking for into the title, so what more could I want? Any feeling of the word "casual" that I used last time to describe the game is replaced with the frantic, in your face, play you can only get from human competitors. The best part is that this is a standalone title. If single player isn't your thing, why waste time? You can jump right in with this multiplayer version.

I have to say the graphics are where the game fell apart totally. I spent too much time admiring what the game looked like, and lost focus on the fact that someone on the other end of a keyboard was trying to end me. Of course, I know I cannot blame the graphics for this, but it couldn't be my playing style that got me killed. I am, after all, the very model of a modern major-general.

As triumphant and patriotic as it was before, the music did its job in keeping me immersed in the game. The Doppler effect of zooming into a battle and then back out again was very clean and very cool still.


Gameplay:

I want to kill a quick rumor about this title. This is not just a multiplayer add-on to the original game. Order of War: Challenge has every right to be considered a standalone game. When I saw the price point of $9.99 on STEAM, I was very surprised. If you own OoW, you do not have to purchase this add-on. It will be installed automatically. There is a ton of new gameplay material, plus 12 new maps. There is even a Co-Op Mode. I had to dust off my GameSpy network password to get started, because they are hosting the servers, but it was not a large intrusion. Most gamers have already had to cross this bridge for other games.

Once you have logged in, everything you need is right there for you in the lobby. You can search for, or create, a game in the Games Room. Automatch is the quick-start option that will throw you in a game with players of similar skill. If that game is not available, you will move to the Games Room. This prevents you from getting thrown into a match against a superior opponent. You can view your statistics, which translates mostly to how many units you have lost. There is nothing more sobering than to look at the number of your fallen digital warriors to remind you that you're not the military strategist you thought you were. Lastly, there is a Leaderboard so you can see who is the military strategist that they think they are.

Creating a game in the Games Room will show you everything that is new and cool about this game. There are 12 maps and six game modes to mix and match into many interesting scenarios. You first choose if you want two or four opponents. Two of the six game variants are affected by this decision. You can only play Survival, Co-Op Mode, with two human players versus the A.I. The Free for All is played with four players. The remaining four can be played with either two or four players. Secure the Base demands you secure not only your base, but your opponents' as well. Expansion creates several control points you must hold while neutralizing your enemy. Instant Battle creates a balanced head to head battle that is won with tactics over expansion. Last was my favorite, called Mercenaries. In this mode, you hired your army from a finite resource pool. This made your decisions when creating your army as important as the tactics you want to use to defeat the opponent.

Each of the new maps presents a very different way of looking at the field of battle. Standard rules apply here when it comes to any map-based game, be it an FPS or RTS, which is know the map or die. Expect to have some growing pains, even if you were good at the original OoW, as playing real opponents is different every time.


Difficulty:

Order of War: Challenge has made me salt and pepper my crow, and eat it. Everything becomes more difficult when you factor in the human element. Don't believe me? Try looking at politics for a while. This aside, there is no longer a carefree romp through the European countryside. They also successfully remove the 4X style of play from several of the game types. This forces you to concentrate on tactical use of units, instead of their creation. It is more than simply amassing a mob of units and rushing your opponent. I will say that this is still a great gateway drug into the more advanced strategy titles of the world. The clean interface still allows for quick and exact control over all of your forces. Once you can take away the challenge of how to move, players can concentrate more on why to move.

Game Mechanics:

Order of War: Challenge has a lot to offer. It is important to remind you that if you own the original OoW, you do not have to purchase the add-on, but if all you want is the multiplayer action, this is the way to go. No longer wanting for any further challenge, my thoughts turn to seeing a more modern version of the battlefield done with the same care and expertise as this one. Keep the interface and controls as solid as they are, and give us a more modern warfare style. For that matter, you could even translate it backwards if you wished to, but something other than WWII.

Once again, putting the fact that this is a WWII game out of my mind, and just enjoying the true mechanics and gameplay, I was happy to play this again. It doesn't take much to enjoy this game; a comfortable chair and your trusty computer is all you need. If you have it, a nice tank helmet will do too. No gimmicky modded controllers necessary. I would suggest that you look into some form of voice communication, as opposed to the in-game chat. An interesting mechanic would be that everything you were attempting to communicate to your partner had to travel through lines of communication and were subject to interception and counterfeiting, just as they were during WWII. Maybe on a future release?


-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

Minimum System Requirements:



Minimum:

Windows(r) XP SP2/Windows Vista SP1/Windows 7,3.0 GHz, DUO 2.0 GHz, 2 GB Ram, 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 7600/Radeon HD2400, DirectX(r) 9.0c, 10 GB Free Space

Recommended:

Windows(r) XP 64-bit SP2/Windows Vista 64-bit SP1/Windows 7 64-bit Processor: DUO 3.2 GHz or better, 3 GB Ram or better, 512MB GeForce 9800/Radeon HD4850 or Better

 

Test System:



Dell XPS 630i, Vista, Intel Core 2 Quad, 6GB Ram, ATI HD4800

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