WOTH: Platinum #30 – The Order: 1886

I recently decided that it was finally time to get this game out of my backlog. It wasn’t that I delayed it because I’d heard it was terrible – in fact, I’d heard it really was something of a spectacle on the PS4, really pushing the boundaries of the hardware’s graphics. It was actually the infamous trade-off that had made me give pause; the sacrifice of gameplay or freedom so it could show off the fancy graphics and lighting.

After completing the short 6 hour main story, and allowing another 3 or so hours to be the addicted completionist I am, I came to the same conclusion that most others had. I saw The Order: 1886 like a scenic bullet train ride through rural Japan – absolutely captivating, but pretty short, and confined to staying on the rails.

It’s not like the story is bad, though. You play as Sir Galahad, a member of the Round Table, which is a slightly modern take on the medieval tale founded by King Arthur. The year is 1886 (obviously), and with the help of the other Knights, and a tinkering young Nikola Tesla, you keep the public safe from various Lycan and Vampire groups. But… there’s a mysterious plotting afoot! Action ensues, but the end-game reveals are kind of predictable.

It’s kind of a pity that there isn’t all that much action, but you can see where the company’s time was invested – in the stunning visuals. Each chapter plays out in a breath-taking area; from the crowded slums of London, to the boughs of a high-flying airship (who the hell thought a gun-fight on a massive blimp was a good idea??). So, if you’re up for a great looking game fit for a movie, then this is certainly for you.

Given that the controls get taken away from you so often, at times you feel it may as well be a movie. It’s very easy to know what’s about to happen, because the game basically foreshadows everything. A big shootout about to go down? Guns and ammo everywhere beforehand. Lengthy cutscene looming? Let’s slow you down and make you put your weapon away before you enter a room. There’s no allusion to freedom most of the time – once you strip away the beautiful scenery, The Order: 1886 amounts to little more than a cover-based shooter. And maybe there’s nothing wrong with that – just don’t go in expecting much more.

The platinum trophy was not difficult at all to get here – if you focus on getting the collectables on your first playthrough, then the total time including clean-up should take little more than 8 hours.

 

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Humble Book Review: Battle Royale

I’ll just get this out of the way from the beginning – yes, I had read the Hunger Games trilogy before this, and yes, there are similarities that run so deep, it’s almost impossible that Suzanne Collins had not at least subconsciously borrowed elements from Battle Royale.

Although you might think the similarities are endless, many of them are smaller details in comparison to the overall narrative. Each book has it’s own style and target audience. Personally, I found Battle Royale to be a fast-paced and thrilling read, more aligned to what I really wanted in a totalitarian-run free-for-all.

Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami, is the story of a class of 42 Japanese high school students who, as part of the totalitarian government’s terrifying program, have been kidnapped and shipped to a small island against their will. It is this setting where they will be each given a map, food, a random weapon, and an explosive collar attached to their necks. They have been told to kill their classmates – and friends – in order to survive. If they choose not to, those explosive collars could detonate. In the end, only one student can be the sole survivor and deemed the winner, allowed to return to society.

Upon frantically running away from the starting point into every direction, the students are faced with an ethical dilemma beyond their years: do they “play the game” and increase their individual chances of survival? Do they attempt to trust their classmates and band together to increase their odds of finding a way out of the system? Or do they choose not to participate in killing at all?

Each choice; constantly moving or hiding, becoming a killer or a pacifist, to trust or to distrust; these are crucial decisions each of the 42 students need to answer quickly.

First of all, it must be said that with 42 students in the mix, a potential reader might be dissuaded with trying to juggle so many characters. However, the author had chosen to stick with 2 major protagonists, and around 3 or 4 major groups to check in with from time to time. Your head won’t be spinning with trying to remember names, but what this novel does extremely well, is flesh out each of the characters adequately. None of the characters are clones of each other, they are all unique and interesting with their personalities and actions.

Unfortunately, because of the nature of the game, the more you get to know the characters, the sadder you’ll become since according to the rules, there can be only one survivor. These high stakes urge you to fly through the pages to see how your favourites fare against the more cruel students.

Secondly, George R R Martin ain’t got nothing on the death count per page here. You need to be aware that not all of the students will make it out alive. Hell, two students don’t even make it out of the briefing room due to the overzealous and egotistical program manager Sakamochi. It is because of these reasons that you’ll find yourself heavily invested in the outcome – will the students either escape, or defeat the program itself?

Perhaps the only let-down for me is the writing style. Due to it being a translation from a Japanese author, the novel suffers from an inevitable sense of awkwardness. Metaphorical language is practically non-existent, and it sometimes reads as an objective journalist’s recounting of the events from a distance.

However, I think the incredibly engaging plot and fast-paced action more than makes up for elements lost in translation. If you’re looking for a book of what the Hunger Games should have been, this is for you.