I’ll admit that I have been keeping an eye out for World in Conflict ever since this new Massive Entertainment title was announced. I must also mention the fact that I’m a Cold War’s buff, a conflict during which I believe the world was on the brink of total annihilation. Ironically enough though, the Cold War is also considered to be one of the most peaceful periods in human history, due to the existence of weapons of mass destruction on both sides of the fence. There is also no doubt that some conflicts still existed, but as local skirmishes, switching back and forth between the USA and USSR. These were called the “proxy wars” (i.e. Koreea, Vietnam or Afganistan), but the closest we ever came to a real disaster was the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The action of World in Conflict takes place during the Cold War, but not quite, because we are dealing with an alternate history; one in which the Berlin Wall isn’t taken down in 1989 and the soviet satellites in Eastern Europe do not regain their political independence, in order to contribute to the fall of the USSR in 1991. Anticipating this imminent crisis however, “The Empire of Evil” threatens the western states, and asks for global support from ONU concerning the communist ideology. The United Nations ignores this blackmail and the USSR attacks NATO military forces and Western Europe, also drawing the USA in this conflict. This is how World War Three begins. Fortunately for humankind, nuclear weapons are not used besides small tactical strikes. Four months pass, during which Europe is decimated and the USA throws in a massive number of troops and resources for the fight against the Russians.
Meanwhile though, the USSR plans an elaborate surprise-attack on the USA, on a second front, speculating the American army’s lack of attention (!?). Thus, the Russian troops turn up in Seattle, onboard disguised frigates, taking by surprise the Americans and causing heavy casualties. This is where the action of the game begins, with you taking the role of Lieutenant Parker, a veteran commander recently returned from the European battlefield. Unfortunately, you are in the worst moment of your life, at the beginning of the soviet invasion in Seattle, having under your command just a battalion with a restricted number of soldiers. In the single-player mode you will only be able to play the American side and with NATO troops in Europe and Russia, while the USSR forces are available only in multiplayer. As a side-note, I must mention that the story is pretty exaggerated, since the invasion of the USA by the USSR or the other way around is a military utopia.
Barring this small drawback, the story of World in Conflict is extremely well presented, with the narrator making you feel in the middle of a huge conflict, fighting against the Russian invasion between the missions of the campaign. It’s interesting that during the game, especially in the “cool-down” moments, you will listen the stories of the people trapped in this unexpected war (just like in Operation Flashpoint, some short scenes from the daily lives of certain characters are shown). Thus, the story is one of the most attractive parts of the single-player, which is a rare thing for a strategy game.
Before we go any further, we must establish the fact that World in Conflict is not a Real Time Strategy game in true sense of the word, but a Real Time Tactics game; during the missions you will not hunt regular resources (gold, minerals, tiberium). You will benefit instead from a predetermined number of units at the beginning of each mission, plus the reinforcements you can gain. You gain reinforcements based on a certain number of points, and you can also benefit from tactical military support, according to the number of enemy units you destroy; thus, this system reacts according to how well you do on the battlefield. Also, the units which manage to survive longer (which is pretty rare) will be considered veterans, thus becoming more powerful than the standard troops.