World in Conflict PC DVD
Published by: Sierra
Developed by: Massive Entertainment
Release Date: Out Now
We are at that time of year again when a dozen or so games are being hyped into being something really amazing and something that we definitely must put on our Christmas wish lists. Some of these games are worthy of such praise but most will disappoint. Some games don't receive much hype at all and are absolutely first class games. One such game is World in Conflict which is the latest PC RTS from Massive Entertainment. It may not have received the hype that Command & Conquer 3 did, or indeed that any of the big console game releases have received, but it's one of the finest RTS games in years and is a must for anyone with a passing interest in the genre.
World in Conflict is set in the 1980's in what is essentially an alternate scenario. In the game's storyline the Soviet Union didn't break up; it launched an attack on the West. Eventually the combat in Europe ceased but instead of peace prevailing, the Soviet Union launched a devastating attack on the west coast of the USA. You'll play as Lieutenant Parker, an American soldier and the first mission begins with the Soviets having launched a surprising and overwhelming attack on Seattle. The first mission gets the campaign off to an action packed start and the action is pretty much unrelenting all of the way through the campaign. The difficulty in the campaign graduates well with the early missions offering tutorial advice (there is also a standalone tutorial) where applicable. There are three difficulty settings to ensure there's a comfortable level for all gamers to play at.
Almost immediately you know you are in for something special with World in Conflict. There is no need to maintain an economy. There is no base building in the game. In fact all of the stuff that usually puts people off RTS games appears to have not been included. The focus has been squarely placed on the action. The sense of scale in the game is truly impressive and it really feels like you're involved in a conflict between two of the world's superpowers. There are three factions in the game: The USA, The USSR and NATO. You'll get to command a good assortment of real-world military vehicles such as tanks, helicopters, troop transporters and anti-air vehicles. In most missions you'll have the ability to use Tactical Aids, both non-destructive (such as aerial recon and bridge repairs) and selective and indiscriminate destructive strikes. These range from napalm strikes to heavy artillery barrages and, for the most desperate situations, tactical nuke attacks. To call on these Tactical Aids you'll need Tactical Aid Points, which you'll earn through killing enemies and capturing Command Points (essentially these are important locations on the map that you must gain control of). To call in reinforcements you'll need Reinforcement Points. These are acquired over time and enable you to build up your forces. Reinforcements are bought in via a drop-ship. Being able to call on reinforcements means you aren't punished for losing units, although units do gain experience so you're not going to want to lose the units you have as the replacements won't, initially, be so effective.
World in Conflict offers a superb single-player campaign and the game also manages to impress with its multiplayer options. Games can support up to sixteen players and the games are run on a drop-in basis so you're not hanging around for a previous game to finish before you can play. The game modes on offer include Domination, Assault and Tug of War. Domination sees two teams fighting over a number of Command Points that are spread around the map. Assault is a similar experience except that one team will play as defender whilst the other plays as the attacker. When the time runs out or when the Command Points have been claimed by the attackers, the roles are reversed. The winner is the one who captures the most Command Points or the one who has captured all of the Command Points in the least time. Tug of War has one lone Command Point that serves as a frontline. The basic idea is for one team to push the frontline all the way to the other team's side, if this isn't done within the time limit the winner will be the side that has dominated the majority of the map. All of these modes can be played in Few-Player Mode which essentially allows for games involving two or four players. Communications are carried out via voice or, the more deaf gamer friendly requests menu.
If you've got the hardware to run the game in all of its glory World in Conflict is visually impressive. Even if your PC specifications aren't that impressive you'll not necessarily be in for a frame rate that's so poor the game will resemble a slide-show. The reason for this is that the game is very scalable. There are a multitude of graphical settings to be tweaked that should enable you to have a fairly smooth experience on fairly low-end hardware. The game includes its own benchmark that will tell you what your minimum, average and maximum frames per second will be with your current settings. Using the benchmark I was able to configure the graphical settings in a way where the game still looked good but the frame rate didn't take a massive plunge when the action really became intense. The game engine is actually pretty impressive with how it handles the mass of action that takes place. The dramatic explosions are superb with plumes and clouds of smoke going high into the air in a most realistic fashion. The damage modelling is also very impressive and I don't think I've ever played a strategy game were the buildings damage so dramatically. Regardless of the graphical settings you get to play the game on, you will be impressed by how dramatically the action is portrayed.
You'll be pleased to learn that World in Conflict does offer subtitles and you can either keep them at their default settings or choose to have 'All Cutscenes' subtitled. The games cutscenes are subtitled. The cutscenes are simply subtitled using white text with no character portraits or names placed alongside the dialogue. The text isn't placed on any overlays or in a dialogue box and, depending on the colour of the background images, the text can occasionally be a little tricky to read. In-game dialogue has been subtitled better than the cutscenes. Here you'll see a character portrait and name for the speaker, so you'll always know who is saying what, and the text is placed in a darkened dialogue box so it's perfectly legible at all times. The game's tutorial is subtitled so you'll be able to learn how to play the game without any hassle. The comments that your units make when you issue orders are not subtitled but this isn't much of a problem to be honest. Occasionally there are time limits to complete your objectives and the time remaining is always shown. All objectives are shown in text. Brief descriptions of your objectives are shown on the left of the screen and next to them you'll see an icon that looks like a small target symbol. If you click this icon the game will pause and a dialogue box will open up showing you the location you must travel to in order to complete your objective. It also shows detailed information about your objective and any other important information you need. This has to be the best method of issuing objectives in a strategy game that I've seen to date as it makes everything crystal clear and you're never left scratching your head wandering about what needs to be done.
World in Conflict is a truly impressive game and is definitely a contender for our favourite PC game of 2007. I have to be honest here and admit that I've been losing interest in RTS games for the last few years and I didn't think it was possible to ever get excited about one ever again. The very first mission in the World in Conflict's single-player campaign completely brushed away any negativity I might have had however, and I can honestly say it's a game I'm going to be playing for a long time. The game is much more action heavy than any previous RTS game I've played before and for this reason it's a game that those who normally don't appreciate RTS games should try. Both Sierra and Massive Entertainment have an absolutely superb game on their hands here and I for one am hoping that we see at least a few more games that use this highly successful, and action packed, formula.
World in Conflict is easily one of the best PC games this year. It's an RTS where the emphasis is placed squarely on the action rather than base building and looking after an economy and it's a formula that works incredibly well for both the single-player campaign and the multiplayer modes.