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World in Conflict PC review

Real Time Strategy gaming has rarely been so action packed.

| Strategy in Gaming | Posted: Oct 19, 2007 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9.0%Developer and / or Publisher: Massive Entertainment

The 80's wasn't just about bad music, audacious hair and awesome action movies, the 80's also summed

 

up a time in the world of uncertainty and turmoil between two major powers in Russia and the USA. Thankfully

 

for us in the real world, this "Cold War" was put aside and World War III was put on hold, but what if

 

this didn't happen? What if Russia and the USA went into full scale war? Sierra Entertainment's and Massive

 

Entertainment's World in Conflict approaches this once all too
real possibility in an RTS form, and the genre has rarely seen so much action.


As with any decent RTS game, World in Conflict focuses around three major modes of play if you don't

 

count the tutorial. You have the single player campaign, single [img]worldinconflict_pc_1[/img]player skirmish, and a multiplayer mode.

 

However, it is with the actual execution of these modes where this game starts to shape its unconventional and

 

untraditional approach to the RTS genre. This comes in the form of being very minimalist regarding

 

micro-management - while there are 'control points' on the map you can control,
there are no bases and buildings to construct, no technology trees, no units upgrades, and basically very

 

little else to do other than command units in battle. This is an RTS which focuses almost exclusively on the

 

action.


It sounds like a risky approach to take, but this concept is not exactly brand new to the RTS genre. In

 

many ways, World in Conflict is like a modernized version of Theatre of War which, if you don't

 

already know, is a WWII RTS that allows you to select your units before the battle, place them on the battlefield,

 

and then proceed in real time action without nagging management issues slowing you down. WIC takes a very similar

 

approach to this but does bring some degree of unit management
into the real time medium, which comes in the form of aerial drops. To start most battles you are required to spent

 

unit points on a limited selection of units, but you can also order more during battles should any of your original

 

units perish. The end result is an almost perfect balance between enough unit [img]worldinconflict_pc_2[/img]management to give the game depth

 

when it comes to ordering the right units to win a battle, but not enough to distract you from the action for

 

significant amounts of time.


This simplified setup to the gameplay really works well for World in Conflict, but at the same time

 

the game still features plenty of proven RTS gameplay mechanics. While the game does incorporate a somewhat unique

 

'WASD' camera control system combined with mouse look similar to what you might expect in a online FPS's spectator

 

mode, everything else when it comes to unit selection and issuing orders basically follows RTS standards to a tee -

 

that is, drag selection, right click commands etc. In
a way, you can kind of see how WIC may have been designed with its future Xbox 360 release in mind as it has

 

got to be, fundamentally speaking, one of the most basic RTS games ever made, but there are some more advanced

 

features available such as waypoints and formations (well, 'line' and 'box' anyway), and in all honestly even

 

though in all likelihood the game probably wasn't designed strictly with the PC in mind, Massive Entertainment

 

disguised it very well as you'd never catch on if
you weren't aware a 360 version was initially planned with the PC release - the only impression you get from the

 

game itself is this minimalist single dimensional RTS gameplay was solely intended for maximum

 

action and fun, and nothing else.


And this is really the crux of the gameplay in World in Conflict. Even if you're the smallest fan of

 

the RTS genre there are few reasons not to like this game as it is just so [img]worldinconflict_pc_3[/img]damn fun and addictive. The time

 

that wasn't directed at making complex technology trees and unique gameplay mechanics was definitely directed at

 

making this game so great to play. Everything from the AI to the spectacular graphics even when zoomed close into

 

the action expels quality and polish, not to mention the very
authentic atmosphere and war time feel this game creates thanks to some ultra impressive fully destructive

 

environments, turning peaceful urban American and rural European scenery into simmering crater filled war

 

zones. While the game's offline modes on easy settings won't likely give you much trouble dominating maps, the

 

difficulty can scale up well into the realms of requiring real time strategy mastery, so don't be fooled,

 

while World in Conflict is probably one of the most accessible and
mainstream appealing RTS's gameplay wise for a long time, it still has plenty to offer the RTS enthusiasts out

 

there.


While this great gameplay extends across the entire range of modes, it is probably the multiplayer modes

 

(whether online against humans or offline against bots, i.e. the game's "skirmish" mode) that will offer

 

the most enjoyment for most gamers as the game's first and possibly only significant disappointment can be found in

 

the somewhat rushed singleplayer campaign mode. As already detailed, this game is about a semi-fictional conflict

 

between the USA and the [img]worldinconflict_pc_4[/img]USSR, and it is in the game's singleplayer
campaign mode where you will be able to experience this scenario in a story based system, from the events in Europe

 

to the surprise invasion of the USA by Russian forces.


Unfortunately the main problem you're going to find with this mode is it is extremely linear and really nothing

 

more than a series of maps with cut scenes in between. Once again, as with C&C 3, I can't help but feel

 

excellent RTS gameplay is severely let down by an inadequate singleplayer campaign mode that doesn't even try to

 

push the boundaries, not even a little. My personal desire here is to see a mode where human controlled armies

 

can take on enemy CPU armies in a Risk style setup,
where territory can be lost and gained and where supplies and units can be directed all over the global battlefield

 

at will, also similar to that seen in the fantastic Total War series. This way losing a battle doesn't halt

 

the storyline, but rather it dynamically changes the storyline. This to me would be the ultimate game mode for an

 

RTS like World in Conflict and it's just such a shame to see what basically is a 'bare minimal' approach

 

instead. This is one area where the game's basic and simplistic
style doesn't pay off.


That's not to say the single player campaign mode is bad though - it's still plenty of fun - but Massive

 

Entertainment left a lot of potential on the drawing board by not at least trying something unique and detailed,

 

which does seem to put a fair amount of pressure on the game's multiplayer and skirmish modes. It's not that gamers

 

won't play and probably finish the campaign mode, it's just that once you've done it, there is little point in

 

doing it again since it will be more or less the exact same experience
the second time around. It is lucky then that the multiplayer mode in this game is indeed up

 

for the challenge, because while the campaign mode shows no sign of imagination in how it is delivered

 

whatsoever, the multiplayer mode couldn't be more different.


The best way to describe the online and LAN human or offline CPU bot based multiplayer in this game is as an

 

online first person shooter delivered in an RTS package. You have a map, two teams, and a hefty limit of up to 16

 

players. Now, RTS games have had team based MP in the past, but World in Conflict differs in that thanks to

 

its pick-up and play style gameplay, you feel like you're just playing any other team deathmatch shooter, only with

 

killer strategy replacing killer aiming. This is the type
of game that will have ISP's worldwide setting up dedicated servers so gamers that can just come in, play for

 

as long as they wish, and drop out seamlessly without disturbing the balance of the game anymore than any other

 

online game regardless of genre.

This is all thanks to the absence of any significant micro-management, which

 

has typically held back other RTS's from mainstream online gaming popularity since establishing and

 

maintaining bases is usually a central theme to the gameplay which
generally doesn't lend itself well to quick-to-get-into 'no strings attached' multiplayer gaming. However, while

 

World in Conflict's style does lend itself well to multiplayer, there is one mechanism in place for

 

multiplayer to regulate the impact any one player can have and that's the requirement to select from one of

 

four groups when joining a game - infantry, support, armor and air. The one you select will dictate the

 

type of units you can deploy to the battlefield which, while restricting your capabilities compared to the

 

campaign
mode, adds a whole new layer of strategy to the game only seen in the multiplayer mode as either side can only

 

really be as good as its weakest link, which creates some very intense and interesting battles against real human

 

intelligence.


There is really very little reason why any PC gamer shouldn't give World in Conflict a go because it is

 

just so accessible and appealing. You don't have to be an RTS nut to enjoy this game, but on the other hand you

 

don't not have to be one either. The single player campaign mode is a little bit of a disappointment and probably

 

won't offer much more than a 'once and done' experience, but thankfully the game's awesome multiplayer, which has

 

got to be the most well balanced and enjoyable multiplayer I've
experienced in an RTS for a long time, comes to the rescue and really sets this game apart. This is a must have

 

title for PC fans who want plenty of action and minimal fuss, and the likelihood many game design decisions

 

were shaped by the fact a 360 release is also pending doesn't detract from the appeal at all. Titles like

 

World in Conflict are really making PC gaming look great right now.

[img]worldinconflict_pc_5[/img][img]worldinconflict_pc_6[/img]

World in 
/ppConflict PC

 

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