In 1989, at the height of the Cold War, the two most formidable fighting forces the world has ever seen decide to use the full might of their military arsenals to settle their disputes once and for all. Soviet Union forces quickly overwhelm NATO defences in West Germany. With US troops tied up in Europe, the Soviet Union launches a surprise ground attack on Seattle. As the invasion unfolds, you command soviet and US forces through a series of mission that will take you across America’s heartland.
Playability: Armchair generals
World in Conflict is a well oiled, well laid out wargame with fluid mechanics. The basic gameplay (troop movement, special abilities, fire support, deployment) are efficiently introduced in short and clear tutorials. The difficulty (four levels ranging from easy to very hard) ramps up only gradually, leaving plenty of opportunities for learning by doing for old video gamers. World in Conflict is a real time tactical game with a focus on realistic combat, rather than on resource gathering and base building. When units are destroyed, a limited number of reinforcements can be deployed. Players also have access to a wide range of tactical support including artillery and air strikes.
Annoyance: A handful of units against overwhelming odds
In World in Conflict, you’re never left to your own devices, and are always part of a greater army working for the greater good. Those who like to take charge of whole divisions and mass thousands of troops to overwhelm their foes will be disappointed. World in Conflict is played at the tactical level and is suitable for video gamers who like to carefully plan their itineraries and ambushes, those who like to get to know their handful of troops (soldiers, tanks, helicopters…) as they gradually level up. Missions are clearly structured with an abundance of sub chapters and objectives, and leave relatively fewer opportunities for free roaming. Commanding officers will constantly bark orders and remind you of your objectives: “what are you waiting for?” Victory is always uncertain, there’s no wiping out whole armies, but rather long drawn-out stalemates that might make a slight difference in the longer script.
Beauty: A campaign full of character
World in Conflict is a carefully crafted painting. The landscape is gorgeously rendered. As your armoured carriers cut tracks through the freshly harvested fields of wheat, startled flocks of birds take flight. Zoom in closer and you’ll notice that even electricity poles have been faithfully modelled. People flee, people get hurt, schools and hospitals get destroyed. War is a waste. The single player campaign has characters with personal flaws and intimate stories. There are good men on both sides, not just capitalist pigs and commie bastards. There’s no winner in war and the outcome is far less certain than those who rewrite history usually aver.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: No happy ending to World War III 7/10
World in Conflict: Soviet Assault is a classic play. Several years after its first publication, I still fight the occasional gritty skirmish through the forests of Washington State and the plains of the Midwest. In this age of continuously raging conflicts and human tragedies, the days of large scale Cold War confrontations between conventional armies are less and less likely. World in Conflict is a tactical simulation of what could have been if reasonable people on both sides of the Iron Curtain had not prevailed.