Sierra World in Conflict
- Innovative gameplay plus amazing graphics equals RTS of the year contender.
- No offline skirmish mode is disappointing.
One thing I was disappointed by was the lack of an offline skirmish mode. There is no Soviet campaign, so there is way for you to get a feel for the Soviet units without going online, which is a shame. In spite of this, World In Conflict features some of the most innovative ideas in the genre and combines it seamlessly with engaging and thrilling gameplay. It's a definite winner and is my front runner for RTS game of the year.
Price$ 89.95 (AUD)
The most imaginative RTS since last year's Company of Heroes, World of Conflict (WIC) arrives with one hell of a bang, offering up some of the most explosive real-time experiences I've ever seen.
WIC's main campaign relies on a what-if scenario wherein the Soviet Union, facing the stark reality of its crumbling regime, decides to go to war against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1989. The conflict eventually escalates into a full fledged war that rages throughout Europe and the United States itself.
Alternate history setups aren't new, but WIC does it well. The single-player campaign is highly enjoyable, with excellent mission variety and depth. It helps that the gameplay is also innovative and well designed.
The first thing you'll notice is that WIC has no base building whatsoever. Instead of spending vast amounts of time setting up a base, collecting resources, and then marshalling an army, players are given a set amount of reinforcement points to purchase units that are then airlifted into the battle. When units are destroyed, their point cost is slowly returned to the player, creating a simple yet effective way of reducing the build-seek-destroy tedium that other games in the genre suffer from.
A little help from my friends
Also, the player usually commands a small force--typically around a dozen units--which reduces the stress levels dramatically. It also requires you to think strategically--you can't simply throw an unlimited stream of units at the enemy. Players are actively encouraged to bring in well rounded forces, as relying on just one unit type will quickly result in failure. It helps that most units are multifunctional, often having special abilities that can, at least temporarily, counter-balance some of their weaknesses--Bradley armoured personnel carriers can launch TOW missiles to strike at heavy armour, for example.
The smaller forces also require you to make heavy use of your support troops. Players can call in a variety of explosive ordinance ranging from conventional tube artillery and tank-busting A-10 strikes, all the way up to immense B-52 carpet bombings and tactical nuclear weapons. All this support becomes critical very quickly in the campaign for making sure that your small forces don't get overrun, but at times the amount of support that one can call in becomes almost comical.
But the use of so many high-explosive rounds does help the game cement its position as the best-looking RTS realised thus far. Artillery rounds demolish buildings wholesale and high-rise buildings collapse in on themselves in a cloud of dust. Individual units are likewise impressively animated as they zip around the battlefield kicking up dirt and leaving tracks in their wake.
All the world's a stage
After completing the excellent single-player campaign players can jump into the multiplayer aspects of the game. Like last year's Company of Heroes, multiplayer in WIC is geared towards cooperation between players on each side. Before getting into the match players select which role they wish to take on--infantry, armour, air or support. Taking on the role of armour for example will let you bring in tanks at a reduced price, but makes acquisition of units from the other branches either more expensive, or not at all possible--something that makes cooperation that much more important.
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