Strategic game with a good strong storyline, trolls and "Portable CD Players". Ahh, those were the days! But for the real quality of this game, play the mulitplayer -- it's easily one of the best around!
World in Conflict...? Or perhaps could be better described as Cold War Conflict, as only the American and the Russian Army feature in this game. This story features “a what if” scenario, i.e. what if the Cold War, was actually a war. Certainly one of the many different answers, to that question, we would have a very different present-day!
I suppose the best way to start this review is with the multiplayer aspect first. While this is odd, the truth is, without the multiplayer aspect, the single player falls a little flat. In fact, this is where most of the magic happens, where the game really shines.
Basically there are four separate parts to your army: Support, Infantry, Air, and Armour units. The idea is that you and three friends pick a section of the army and fight as one, this requires two things. First that you have good friends, and secondly, that you trust them. While you don’t have to pick each of the four, and yes it is possible to double up. I don’t suggest doing it, because it makes your force weaker, and limits yourself to the types of units you can have.
This is how the real army works; you have the infantry division, the backbone. Then you have all the other types, these are the support to help the infantry. In Single player, calling for support is just a matter of a drop down menu, few clicks, and a select the bad guys. But when you depend on someone else, that’s when it gets really exciting, just make sure to ask nicely! And expect a few friendships to suffer!
It all depends if he/she busy too, has he run out of artillery shells, or perhaps his units are too far away to support you! That sense of not knowing is what drives the excitement. The real thrill of having your butt saved at the last minute, or the sheer terror in knowing that help is just too late. All this adds new dimensions to a strategy game, trust in your team mates. This is what multiplayer is all about.
And Now... Single player! While there are a few hints of the multiplayer aspect, the drama is not quite the same. At times you will be asked to control one part, while lending a hand to an AI controlled army. Early on, there is one mission, where a division of Armour units are holding a bridge, and your job is to bring in Air Support. This breaks up the game, so it never feels repetitive. But most of the time it’s up to you to control everything. While this produces some stress, and constant mouse shuffling action, these times are not frequent. This all due to the somewhat relaxed nature of attacks!
Take the first level as a prime example. The whole story revolves around the Russians sneaking into America and launching a surprise attack in force. The thing that surprised me the most was how timid the Russian attack was. I know it’s a first level, and it’s supposed to ease you into the game. But when you have a storyline like this, you want to feel the panic, the overwhelming odds, and the fear brought on by an invasion!
Instead I casually walked through the docks side, destroying all hostile forces. Someone cried for help, “What’s the problem? It’s only a few Russians.” Helped them out, went to another part of the map, more help needed and given, and then went to the exit point. “Victory!” it was definitely a hollow one, as the storyline doesn’t fit, unless you call Russians making beach fall on America soil a victory! The worse thing was that there was no challenge, even though I had small group of tanks, I felt I could take the whole Red Army on, and win. Whether that would be the case, I don’t know, but the point is that I should have felt the fear of overwhelming odds, and I didn’t!
Not a good start, there is no emotion, panic or desperation on your behalf. This is where the storyline can be unbelievable. A huge shame as sometimes the story can be told really well. In between missions, in the cut scenes, there are many a gem of stories. These come in a format similar to Max Payne’s comic book style. While they have nothing to do with the main story, want they do show you is the effect of war on the soldiers and family. Therefore adding to whole new dimension to the storyline, not what is happening, but how it is affecting people. This is what all good writers do, and what all good stories need!
One such story is of a soldier phoning back home, and gets his father, who is a Vietnam veteran. He is giving out stink about how the young men of today are not as good as when he was a soldier. Whatever your views on Dads/Sons or Tough love/Fighting for freedom? These little snippets will dominate the main storyline, they create the emotion, bring out the laugher, hope, struggle, shame, and the desperation. These parts are well scripted, and have the quality of a great "Point and Click" adventure. Which is surprising as this is a strategy game, and a storyline unseen since command and conquer? (See picture, an example of one of these stories!)
The control system is novel, done before, but still a nice change. Using the movement keys, to move the screen about the map, and the mouse to tilt, pan and zoom. It is a real pleasure to use this system, which after a little work will come naturally. And at times you will need every advantage you can get you hands on, moving the screen is a top priority!
Then you have your units, in single player you will play mainly as the mobile infantry. Each unit has its only special ability; some even have two, things such as smoke, missiles, armour piecing bullets and repair. All these abilities add an extra level of gaming, but the one that surprised me the most, was the smoke screen. Beforehand in games, I found that smoke was very ineffective, and the computer AI could still fire at you through the smoke. But World of Conflict does things slightly differently, and I think better. The number of times I have been saved by a smoke screen, well let’s just say it’s more than one.
The control system is novel, done before, but still a nice change. Using the movement keys, to move the screen about the map, and the mouse to tilt, pan, and zoom. It is a real pleasure to use this system, which after a little work will come naturally. And at times you will need every advantage you can get your hands on and moving the screen quickly is a top priority!
Then you have your units, in single player you will play mainly as the mobile infantry. Each unit has its own special ability; some even have two, things such as smoke, missiles, armour piercing bullets and repair. All these abilities add an extra level of gaming, but the one that surprised me the most, was the smoke screen. Beforehand in games, I found that smoke was very ineffective, and the computer AI could still fire at you through the smoke. But World of Conflict does things slightly differently, and I think better. The number of times I have been saved by a smoke screen, well let’s just say it’s more than one.
All in all, World in Conflict has some really great design concepts. But in the single player mode, there is just nothing that keeps you hanging in there. Still I would never class this game anything below good, but it is a great shame, as this has one of the better storylines ever used in a Strategy game.
So if you really want to get your money’s worth from this title, you will have to play online. This part will keep you entertained at the weekends and gasping for more. Just remember to take breaks, and that you have work on Monday.
When trolls where popular and portable CD players ate batteries for breakfast, in the alternate year of 1989, the Russians want a piece of American pie! James
Requirements CPU 2.2Ghz, Ram 512Mb, Graphics 128Mb, Hard disk 8Gb