I'd like to start this article off by giving Gameloft, publisher of Order and Chaos Online, a lot of respect. Tons of respect. Oodles of respect. It seems to be a company that gets an idea (or borrows one) and just does it. While so many people are talking about designing and creating for the mobile gaming world, Gameloft has busily cranked out scores of high-quality titles. Yes, many of those titles bear remarkable resemblance to other non-mobile titles, but let's be really honest here: Modern MMO design is not really chock-full of original ideas. In fact, the lack of of daring design is what drove me to the indie and mobile markets. Both of those markets are new enough, or small enough, that they take chances.
Gameloft's games generally work, as well. Its shooters might be slightly on rails, and its RPGs might be pretty linear, but all of its attempts at hitting the mark add up to a lot of profit and a lot of successful shots. The company has more good games than bad. Anyway, if the major publishers aren't going to take the time to make a decent mobile port or morph of their best titles, Gameloft has shown that it is more than willing to. I generally like that.
Essentially, Order and Chaos Online divides players into two sides: Order and uhm... I can't seem to remember the other one. Chaos, that's right. You have your typical Undead-looking characters to roll, as well as Elves, Humans, and Orcs. There are four basic classes and some limited character customization. If anything, the lack of choices just reminded me of how limited World of Warcraft always has been. Logging into WoW now, I am always a little shocked at how little there is to do in the game. So in a way, Gameloft picked the perfect game to "copy."
Once in the game. you find yourself on a sort of tutorial island or area, and everything works as designed. It's fun to kill your first few boars or wolves because you realize, "Wow, mobile MMO gaming, done in a way that many Western gamers will be OK with, is more than possible." To use one of my favorite phrases, it just works. The joystick on the left controls movement while your thumb or finger on the right controls the camera and abilities. It does get a little tiring to hold up your iPad for long sessions of playing, but the iPad II's lighter frame makes up for it. Also, you can just set the game down and play that way, just like I did in the embedded video.
Once out of the tutorial area, I found myself blocking the main two chat channels because they were almost as filthy and full of hatred as the actual WoW channels are. Again, the lack of any GM interference in the chat only made me realize how lousy of a job Blizzard does with its MMO's chat. I just kept thinking to myself, "Cool, Gameloft even copied WoW's community!" Once everything was blocked and my eyes stopped bleeding, I had fun running around killing 10 whatever for different missions. Yes, if this was any other game I would have written a scathing account of how unoriginal and bland the gameplay was, but the toy factor always wins points in my house.
The toy factor is that little something that some games just have. It's basically when I get a similar feeling to the ones I had as a youth when playing "war" with my toys or when going to "cheap section" at Toys "R" Us. A game that makes me smile without knowing it... that's the toy factor. Hell, I could blame this feeling on the iPad more than Order and Chaos Online, probably, but the delivery does affect the overall impression of a product (just ask that guy who buys every single collector's edition he can).
So the controls and presentation -- the UI especially -- are brilliant. The layout is simple and to the point and works smoothly. Again, Gameloft seems to have copied WoW's ability to maintain a good framerate, something that is rarely cited in a game's success. Deep down I believe that performance had just as much to do with the success of a game like, say, RIFT as anything did. It definitely helps that Order and Chaos Online downloads and works well, all for a dirt cheap price.
Speaking of price, I can report that the game costs $6.99 (a price that includes three months of game time), and each month after costs $0.99. I plunked down a few bucks and got six months of game time. Will I play it much during that time? I'm not sure. After all, I can get this type of gameplay in any number of titles. What makes Order and Chaos Online fun is the fact that it is portable. It looks great, too, and offers enough fun that you will always have something to do. And since you would probably only play it for an hour or so here and there, you will never run out of content.
I enjoy playing the game on my HTC Inspire Android phone a bit more than on the iPad, mainly because it sits in my hand easier and looks crisp. Unfortunately, the Android servers are separate from the iOs servers, at least for now. There are plans to eventually merge them, which would be a great thing for the Android server populations.
In the end, I had a good time with Order and Chaos Online. The UI is so nicely designed and the game looks so good (for a portable) that I plan on keeping up with any future developments. While you won't find truly original concepts in the game, you will find a good time.
Next week I will be taking a look at Gilfor's Tales, a mysterious browser-based RPG. My in-game name is Beauhindman, so join me!
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Each week, Rise and Shiny asks you to download and try a different free-to-play, indie or unusual game, chosen by me, Beau Hindman. I welcome any suggestions for games -- drop me a note in the comments or email! You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Raptr!