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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Review: Order and Chaos Online (iPad); Gameloft, you offend me

Order and Chaos Online on the iPad is a stupid idea. The problem isn’t that the game exists in the first place - it conforms to every Gameloft tradition, in that it's an inferior knockoff of a great game. And in shamelessly copying World of Warcraft's design philosophy, Gameloft has outdone itself and ripped off perhaps the most influential game of all time – that by itself should be a recipe for lots of money.

Why is that guy checking out the horse's backside?


The problem is, you can’t play this on the go. What has made Gameloft games acceptable in the past has been the fact that, when you're on the train or in an airport, you can whip out a game like Modern Combat, because you're probably not carrying around a PS3 And TV for a short run of Call of Duty. But you can't do that with Order and Chaos - you need to be sitting in a WiFi zone. Considering most modern laptops (even the cheap ones) can run World of Warcraft, it's therefore quite easy for Blizzard's MMO to be as mobile as Order and Chaos. So, rather than forgive Gameloft's effort because it's 'on the go,' let's directly compare it to World of Warcraft, as most people will be able to do.

This game makes shooting evil wolves an exercise in utter boredom


It fails miserably. Everything that has made World of Warcraft an engaging and almost spiritual experience for so many gamers has had the soul ripped out of it, and while the shell that is left is perfectly playable, Order and Chaos does nothing to give us a game worth playing. To then charge a subscription, when many MMOs better than Order and Chaos have had to go to free-to-play just to keep people on the servers, is an utter slap in the face.

Order and Chaos controls fairly well. The interface is reasonably uncluttered for an MMO, and the menus are laid out in a logical fashion. It's possible to do most of the same things you can do in World of Warcraft, including pulling up a virtual keyboard to chat away. Of course, a virtual keyboard doesn't lend itself to a flowing, fast-typing conversation, and Order of Chaos is filled with the same dunces spamming 'flaming' swords and their 'special' guilds as most other MMOs, so conversations aren't very interesting in the first place.

Oh look. Everyone is nice and costume coordinated


Instead of clicking on NPCs to talk to them, and instead of clicking on enemies to attack them, you tap on them instead. It works, but like with the chatting, it's less natural than mouse commands. Gameloft has done the best it can within the limitations of the iPad's hardware though, and in all fairness it is a very playable game, so no complaints there.

And no complaints on the visuals of the game either. Characters and settings are rendered in impressive detail, and the music is technically a high quality. That said, the visuals and music are also as generic and bland as they come - World of Warcraft sans any semblance of creativity (surprise, surprise). This kind of sanitation suits some people, and indeed like most Gameloft games, this is like wandering through a hospital - sure it's clean and the barren walls and corridors won't offend anyone, but they're also completely devoid of anything that makes you want to be there.

And here we have a group of freaks


You're getting a big game with Order and Chaos. Gameloft has put a lot of effort into building an infrastructure that supports a subscription model, and though it's cheap, it would appear that keeping the world fresh with updates is a priority.

But games like this annoy me. It doesn't take much for a developer to take an established idea and copy wholesale from it, yes, but also try and do something a little different. Gameloft doesn't do that. It sucks the creativity right out of the industry, and by slapping a low price on it, frightens away others from trying to do something genuinely creative.

This time around, Gameloft has picked a fight on the wrong battlefield. If you have a laptop that's less than three years old, get World of Warcraft (or Lord of the Rings Online, or Guild Wars, or any of the other very good MMOs). For an extra kg or so to carry around, that laptop has vastly better, and more creative MMOs available. If you really do only have an iPad, look at Pocket Legends - it at least doesn't have the gall to charge people a monthly subscription for a middle-range MMO.


Review: Order and Chaos Online (iPad); Gameloft, you offend me
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