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Order of War - multiplayer hands-on

Five minutes into our multiplayer hands-on demo of Order of War, a real-time strategy published by Square Enix, and there’s not a spiky-haired hero in sight. Partnering up with, an up and coming western developer focused on strategy games, is part of the Square’s grand plan to branch out from the console role-playing franchises it’s currently most famous for. So how does one win the hearts and minds of the hardcore PC audience who wouldn’t touch a fluffy Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts title with a ten foot pole? With some serious World War II strategy, of course.

Like many modern RTS titles, Order of War breaks away from traditional base building mechanics. Instead, players must focus on capturing, holding, and defending strategic control points spread out across each map. Control more points and your resources increase at a faster rate, allowing you to keep the pressure on your opponent with more forces. Spend points to reinforce your forces or call in air support anywhere on the map. Regular reinforcements will be your bread and butter, providing you with cost effective units that drop into play near your controlled points. But you can also call in air support for everything from bombing runs to extra artillery or armor. Air support attacks may cost more points, but being able to use them anywhere on the map makes them well worth the price.

Above: Order of War looks solid and plays well. But will that be enough to win over a new audience?

When it comes to the number of online players and factions, Order of War keeps things streamlined, allowing for 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 teams with the option to use AI-controlled players to fill in empty slots. It also sticks with three factions: the Americans, Germans, and Russians. Each faction has its own strengths. When playing as the Americans, we found their special ability to call in paratroopers via air support especially useful in the early game, allowing us to quickly capture control points before our opponent. On the other hand, our weenie soldiers were quickly run over by the Russian force’s superior tanks. And then, there are the Germans, with their powerful artillery that helps them relentlessly defend any points held.

Above: Bombing runs can be devastating. But if your opponent out maneuvers you or has anti-aircraft set up, they’ll just waste your resources

It seems clear that Order of War is shaping up to be an extremely polished RTS. Still, comparisons to other popular RTS titles like World in Conflict or the much loved Company of Heroes franchise are inevitable - and we had a hard time finding anything that really made it stand out from the crowd. Will a solid, yet somewhat vanilla, RTS be enough to help Square carve a space for itself amongst western strategy fans? Expect more details as Order of War’s Sep,22 release date draws nearer - and expect to see them here on GamesRadar. In the meantime, why don’t you stop reading about Order of War and check it out for yourself? The single-player demo is currently available for download on the game’s official site at

Sep 9, 2009