At first glance, New World Order gives the impression that it's an unoriginal game, rushed out the door to cash in on the latest trend. Unfortunately, this first impression is pretty much accurate. The back of the box states that New World Order is a "super realistic, tactical team-based first-person shooter." The problem is that the game isn't realistic, it contains only shallow tactical features, and it's played without help from AI teammates. New World Order tries to emulate other tactical shooters such as Counter-Strike and Tom Clancy's Raven Shield but fails in every imaginable way.
According to the story, your name is John Dobbs, and you're the latest member of the elite Global Assault Team, a top-secret, worldwide organization created to fight terrorism. Even if you can ignore the fact that this setup is a direct rip-off of Ubi Soft's Rainbow Six series, you'll probably notice that at no time during the game do you meet any other member of this so-called team. All the missions in the game are solo missions, with no help whatsoever from any other operatives. Aside from the commanding officer, who gives canned orders at the beginning of each mission, you appear to be the only field operative in the GAT. Even the opening level, set at GAT headquarters, is entirely bereft of other GAT employees, despite the fact that it's a multistory office building with dozens of desks. To make things even more bizarre, a text prompt at the beginning of each mission addresses you as Agent Parker. Is your name Dobbs or is it Parker? Maybe Parker is your supersecret code name, for use only out in the field? The world may never know.
It would be an understatement to label New World Order's graphics mediocre. The game's textures are flat and drab, and this is exacerbated by the fact that most missions take place at night or during overcast days. The game's vertex lighting looks downright primitive by today's standards, while models contain few polygons and are animated in a stiff manner. New World Order's death animations result in corpses lying in bizarrely contorted positions, which is odd because these animations are pre-set and not the result of rag-doll physics as in Raven Shield and some other shooters. The game features some blood, which probably contributed to its M rating, but for some strange reason, blood on the ground evaporates almost immediately.
Given how little New World Order offers in terms of graphics, the game's steep system requirements seem puzzling. Even on a fairly high-end system with a 2.53GHz Pentium 4 and an ATI Radeon 9700 Pro, New World Order's frame rate is terrible. With more than two or three enemies firing onscreen, the frame rate drops into the low teens. If more than 10 enemies in a level are activated, the visuals become a literal slideshow, and the game becomes completely unplayable.
Unfortunately, the game's sound doesn't really have any redeeming qualities either. New World Order's tinny sound effects make each of its real-world weapons sound like a toy gun. Even the multibarreled minigun sounds underwhelming. The voice acting is terrible. Your travels take you around the world from Sweden to Chechnya to the Middle East, but apparently terrorists all around the world speak three phrases of English: "Kill Him!" "Take him down!" or "Not a chance!"
And as it turns out, New World Order's gameplay is awful. On normal and hard difficulty levels, you can sustain about two to four shots before dying. That may sound bad already, but the fact that AI opponents can see through walls and are often already firing at you as they turn the corner to engage you makes it worse. Most missions contain anywhere from 12 to 20 enemies, so it's nearly impossible to make it through an entire mission. Yet for some bizarre reason, there's no way to save the game during a mission? If you die, you must start over from the beginning. Turning the difficulty level to easy is the only reasonable option, which will let you sustain a lot more damage before dying, but since the frame rate drops precipitously during big firefights, you'll probably die a good number of times in the later levels anyway.
There are only 12 missions in New World Order, and each consists of just a tiny map, sprinkled with some enemies. Although some missions ask you to gather intelligence or rescue a hostage, in almost all cases, none of these side quests need to be accomplished; it's simpler to just kill every enemy in the level. Even taking into account a liberal amount of restarting, it will take you only about an afternoon to get through New World Order's campaign. Don't expect to beat the last mission though--with more than 20 enemies on the map at once, the frame rate plummets, and it becomes impossible to finish the game.
The manner in which you equip weapons in New World Order is ill-conceived. At the start of each mission you can equip various weapons based on what rank you've attained. This rank and experience system plays little role in the game because after the second mission, you'll always have acquired enough experience to buy any weapon you like. You're also given a weight limit of what you can carry--each gun, grenade, and clip you equip yourself with has a certain weight, and according to the game's documentation, the more you carry, the slower you move, although we never found weight to affect movement speed significantly. While that may seem insignificant, for some bizarre reason, there's no way for you to tell how much weight you are carrying. Based on the stats given for each item, you're forced to calculate in your head how close you are to the 10-kilogram limit. Even more frustrating is that you cannot pick up a dropped weapon if you're already carrying one of that type. For instance, if you're carrying an AK-47, and an enemy drops one after dying--you can't even take the bullets from the dropped weapon to add to your stash. If you run out of bullets, you're forced to memorize the gun's location and go back to it later.
Actually firing New World Order's weapons is an exercise in frustration. Despite the game's claims of realism, all of the rifles and submachine guns fire in full automatic mode. There's no selector switch to change to single shot or burst fire, and since the firing rate is so fast, it's difficult to manually fire weapons in short bursts. Even kneeling, bullets tend to stray well away from your crosshairs, which, unlike the crosshairs in more-realistic games like Counter-Strike and the Rainbow Six series, do not expand to show the increasing inaccuracy of the weapon as it's being fired. Did you run out of bullets and want to quickly switch to a pistol instead of reloading your primary weapon? Too bad you can't--once a reloading animation has begun, it has to run until completion before you can switch weapons. All too often you'll die while reloading because the game won't let you switch to a secondary weapon.
Multiplayer in New World Order is directly copied from Counter-Strike. Aside from standard team deathmatch modes, there are also bomb planting missions and hostage rescue missions. You'll seldom find anyone online playing retail New World Order, and even the game's many demo servers are utterly empty.
Even at its $30 suggested retail price, New World Order is a poor value. It's a game that simply attempts to cash in on the success of Counter-Strike and the Rainbow Six series by copying their themes, but it ends up falling well short of the mark because of its terrible graphics engine, its ill-conceived design, and a campaign that takes only a few hours to (nearly) complete. If you're looking for a modestly-priced tactical shooter, you'd be much better served by picking up Line of Sight: Vietnam, Deadly Dozen: Pacific Theater, or gold editions of Ghost Recon or Operation Flashpoint.