World in Conflict: Brain in Conflict

Guest Post

When I first picked up World in Conflict, I really felt it even before I installed it. With the plethora of really good RTS games already on the market and soon to come – such as Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts and Age of Empires III: Asian Dynasty – it was going to be tough to give an accurate review of yet another game in the long line of games that:

1. Are based on killin’ things, and
2. Have tanks shooting other tanks.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t like the game much when I first tried it out. The units moved in an incredibly unrealistic way, the graphics weren’t as good as I thought they should be and damage was just weird. But I’ll come to that later. First, let me give you the premise.


Okay, now, let’s move on to the mechanics.

Wait, what? Not enough? Oh, fine.

It’s set in an alternate universe in a fantasy continent called “America.” What a silly name! It’s World War III, the damn communists are at it again and they’ve decided to kill everyone who isn’t Russian. The game begins with the invasion of US territory, and you play a rag-tag group of soldiers who try their very best to defend against the big red hammer.

There are many lovable characters in the game, all of whom are voiced professionally and realistically by what I can only assume are actual human beings (as compared with the voice acting in other fine games, which sound like they’ve been farted out by robot elephants). The battlefield usually has most of these people around, who aren’t actually present on the field but who “control” certain groups of units. At different times, the ultimate commander issues one of his men an order, and you assume command of that one person, and subsequent units. This can change many times in the course of a single battle. (The battles are just the right length, too.) The characters exchange very natural banter on the field and in cut scenes, with excellent writing and well-developed characterizations. In the end you might end up feeling a little bad for some of them at certain points… but I won’t give it away.

The interesting thing is that while you’re fighting, so are all the other characters. In the end, what you have is a full-scale war in which you fight WITH your friends, in the same battlefield, in the same perspective. This is something unique to this game, in which your allies actually work on your team rather than being segregated by color and denomination (as in games such as Command and Conquer or even Starcraft). The effect, in the end, is a believable scenario in which full scale war is brought out quite nicely.

However, it’s not.

It’s not realistic at all. The major gripe is that despite how accurate the game is on a global war scale, it’s absolutely weird in terms of the mechanics and how units relate to each other. Movement is cartoonish and too fluid. Units can shoot across virtually any terrain, and tanks, for some reason, can shoot helicopters with accuracy beyond what they should be able to. In the end, the fight itself feels a bit weak. For a game with the best mechanics ever, if that’s what you’d rather play, you might want to pick up Company of Heroes instead. And this is my only major gripe. It’s quite fairly not even a really good gripe. I really had to force myself to say this, as it’s the only thing that really stands out in what is otherwise just a near-perfect game.

But let’s get on with the game play itself. As stated before, you control units on the battlefield. There are no resources to gather, no buildings to build, which is a interesting twist that makes you focus entirely on the action rather than puttering around. It’s just unit control all the way. You paradrop units (yes, even tanks and, for some reason, helicopters) onto the field in designated zones. You have a pool of points given, which you can spread out over different units, each having a different cost. Once you order your units, the plane comes, drops them off, and returns. Every time one of your units is destroyed, the value is “refunded,” where it slowly trickles back into your resource point pool over time, and once enough has filled, you can buy a new unit.

You also have MANY different kinds of “support” attacks, from artillery to firebombing to smart bombs to paratroopers. These fall in a different point pool, and each attack costs a different number of points. For every unit you destroy, you gain back some effort toward replenishing these points. Of course, played right, this means you can virtually upkeep your point pool by destroying enemies with the attacks themselves. It’s very interesting as a concept because it allows for flexible direct-attack upon enemy forces, rather than with units.

And then there’s the units themselves. They’re pretty varied, from tanks to flying units to mobile bombardment to soldiers. The soldiers are rather overshadowed in this game, but they have certain uses. Units have a personal experience level, veterancy being a common feature nowadays, and units can hold points and strengthen target areas by “waiting” in designated spots that will cause defensive buildings to be automatically built. Each kind of unit has a “special attack” that you can use to defeat the enemy more quickly. In the end, it’s a combination of micromanaging your units and using your special attacks.

Controls are fairly easy, and the camera movement is tricky, but simple to get in the end. The game requires a lot of different camera angles, so be ready for that. The maps are extremely well planned – they look incredibly natural and not “forced” like many other city-based RTS games. The graphics, as I said, aren’t as nice as I THOUGHT they were, but one VERY good note is that it runs extremely smoothly for its level. Not a single lag anywhere, which is quite satisfying for this level of graphic impressiveness.
In the end, this is a good game for casual players, people who don’t really like to think very much. Not much planning is required and the objectives are explained to you clearly and concisely. The cut scenes are wonderfully done and it’s something that can be enjoyed without getting extremely deep into. If you’re looking for that kind of breezy, no-commitment side-track from life, then go for it. There’s nothing much to lose.

Except, you know… your tanks. And stuff.

Minimum System Requirements

System: 2.2GHz single-core or any double-core process or equivalent
RAM: 512 MB
Video Memory: 128 MB
Hard Drive Space: 8000 MB
Other: 1GB RAM required for Windows Vista

Recommended System Requirements
System: Intel Core 2 Duo or equivalent
RAM: 1024 MB
Video Memory: 256 MB