Today in the gaming industry you don’t see almost any games whatsoever focusing around the Cold War. Instead you see them focus on World War II, Vietnam, Modern warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those games can either be based on real events or are fictional story-lines, based on what could happen, or in the case of the World War II and Vietnam games, what did happen.
“World in Conflict,” (WiC) however, is a totally different concept all together. Taking place in 1989, the year in which the Soviet Union collapsed, the game itself takes an alternate route in history and shows what could have happened. Instead of the USSR collapsing, its leaders choose to invade western Europe and Seattle which sparks World War III, and the Cold War gets very hot.
The game was developed by Massive Entertainment and published by Sierra Entertainment. It is widely considered to be a real time strategy game, but also is heavily laden with a real time tactical sense. The player has a huge view of an immensely large map graced by dazzling graphics that show the smallest details. So precise is the game design that you can see the wording on billboards, grass moving from the air, as well as listen to your troops talk to each other about the latest scuttlebutt. The battlefields include towns, islands, forests, highways, and a host of other environments which are completely destructible in any way you can dream up. Depending on what the player has to do, he or she can tackle the objective in a number of different ways.
Depending on what identity chosen to be, the United States, Soviet Union, or NATO, the player has a host of options to fight with on the Cold War battlefield, which again, I haven’t seen anywhere really in other games. In multi-player and to some extent single-player modes, the player gets to choose what type of units to deploy. The four main categories are infantry, armor, support, and air. Each include their own special units that only fit to their category. And each unit from each group has their own special nitch they are most effective for.
However the player can also choose to mix armor with air, or support with infantry. Any combo you can think of is possible; however it comes at a premium cost, and you only get so many resupply points. Unlike other games that are RTS, with WiC you get a number of points to use that each unit costs. And you can make any combo of units that are in that limit. You also only get so many points to use, and they regenerate after you lose units. Also, every unit in the game has a special defensive and offensive ability it can use. This really gives the player a lot of options, but that’s not even half of what makes WiC so different.
There are three different types of games in WiC: domination, tug-of-war, and assault. “Domination” has the entire map in play at once and the players must work to capture points on the map that have strategic value. The longer time and the more points they have, the more their side will ultimately win over their enemy. “Tug-of-war” is a special game where there is a line of so many points that must be occupied by the player’s forces alone to advance into enemy territory, while “assault” has one side play defense and the other play offense to see how far they can go on the map in a specific time limit.
Now, the most unique and probably the most interesting thing in WiC are the tactical aid or “TA” points. These are accumulated for destroying enemy units, capturing strategic points, or fortifying special locations by being present. The cost of each TA is dependent upon what role is being played, and, thus, the player’s needs. He has a choice of nearly thirty TAs: tank busters, poison gas, napalm, heavy air support, laser guided bomb, air-to-air support, fuel air bombs, carpet bombing, artillery strikes, tactical nuke, just to name a few. Each one of these TAs has a cost and a specific type of unit they are meant to destroy. Or a player can drop recon troops, trucks, tanks, repair bridges or whatever he or she needs by choosing it from the drop down menu and placing it where it’s needed on the battlefield. After the time for it to set up goes by the explosions and special effects show!
As if this wasn’t enough, Massgate has managed to make a single-player game with a unique story-line, which starts in Seattle as a Lt. Parker who is thrown in the mix of World War III. All the way to Europe and Russia, the campaign has a huge number of twists and turns that I never saw coming; as in the real world when the USA and NATO were worried about being overwhelmed from superior numbers of the USSR, I found myself out-numbered and out-gunned many times. This is when TA an tactics came into play.
In the multi-player version of the game, the player teams up with seven other people to go head-to-head against their enemies. Massgate has forced the players to learn to communicate and work together, thus forcing more organized game play. This is done with voice systems installed into the game as well as quick commands.
The game itself was released in 2007 and after getting top reviews that year, there were plans for an expansion: “World in Conflict: Soviet Assault,” in the Soviet’s point-of-view. However, in fall of this year, Activision has decided to discontinue its production of the expansion for unknown reasons.