World in Conflict Exclusive Single-Player Hands-On - Dealing With Invasion USA

We got a chance to play this military-themed real-time strategy game that deals with World War III and a Soviet invasion of the United States.

While "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" is a popular Tears for Fears song from the 1980s, it's also a fitting song for World in Conflict, the upcoming World War III real-time strategy game from Sierra and Massive Entertainment. And we mention that song in particular because it's actually featured in the game. World in Conflict will capture the atmosphere of the late 1980s with a licensed soundtrack that would seem fitting for a Grand Theft Auto game. Of course, Grand Theft Auto doesn't have the high-tech warfare and massive amounts of destruction that World in Conflict will. We got a chance to experience the game ourselves at Sierra's Gamers' Day, so we can report on the carnage firsthand.

World in Conflict is set in 1989, at the height of the old Cold War between democracy and communism. However, instead of dying out quietly, the Soviet Union has decided to go down fighting, causing a world war. The game will pick up in the midst of that struggle, approximately a year after fighting begins in Europe. With its forces deployed to fight overseas, the United States is vulnerable, particularly the West Coast. The Soviets take advantage of that by launching a massive invasion of the US, landing in Seattle and moving inland from there. The single-player campaign, approximately 15 missions long, will center on a group of American commanders involved with trying to slow and reverse the Soviet advance. For example, there's Colonel Sawyer, the confident and calm leader; Bannon, a brash and whiny officer; and Webb, the mediating voice. The story and its accompanying cutscenes will explain the relationships between these officers and the background to the war itself.

We got to play the third mission in the campaign, dealing with the battle to recapture Pine Valley, a remote town that's been taken over by the Red Army. To introduce the mission, a cutscene shows the townspeople panicking while the invasion force of Soviet paratroopers land (with "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" playing in the background), along with the arrival of the American forces on scene. Between sniper and mortar fire, Colonel Sawyer explains to his subordinates the plan of attack, and it's up to you to carry out the orders.

This is a tactical real-time strategy game, and the core gameplay revolves around commanding units effectively. There is no base building or resource gathering whatsoever. The Pine Valley mission starts with you having command of a Bradley fighting vehicle and an engineer team, and your first task is to seize a nearby gas station that's defended by Soviet armor. You have a couple of options at this point. You can summon reinforcements to try to seize the gas station immediately, or there's an optional objective that you can pursue, namely taking out a sniper atop a smokestack. However, it would take the Bradley a long time to destroy the concrete smokestack with its gun, and sending the engineers to plant demo charges around it would get them killed pretty fast. The solution is to load the engineers aboard the Bradley, have the Bradley drive up to the base of the smokestack and pop a smoke grenade, and then have the engineers pile out and plant demo charges. Once the charges are planted, have the engineers jump back in the Bradley, drive away, and then detonate the explosives and watch the smokestack collapse. With that, you have an idea of the tactical possibilities in the game.

Now it's on to the main objective. To seize the gas station, you'll need a lot more than just a Bradley and engineers. Thankfully, World in Conflict's reinforcement system is designed so that you can quickly call in fresh units. You're given a limited budget of points that you can use to purchase units. The more powerful a unit is, the more points that it costs, which makes sense. In this case, you can call up three or four extra Bradley fighting vehicles, some infantry and antitank squads, and a Humvee. Select the type and number of units you want and just hit "deploy" and a huge cargo plane swoops down from the sky and airdrops the reinforcements to the ground. It's a pretty cool sight to see.

The neat thing about this reinforcement system is that there's no need to worry about ever running out of units. Whenever a unit is destroyed, its points are gradually recycled back into the main pool, so you can replace them relatively quickly. You'll never, ever run out of points, so you can always bring in fresh uints. Another neat thing about this system is that it lets you experiment with different tactics, as you can switch from one type of unit to another if you discover they're badly suited for the environment. For instance, while tanks are useful on the outskirts of Pine Valley, once you enter the town the fighting is suited toward infantry that can garrison buildings for cover. While having an unlimited reinforcement system isn't exactly realistic, lead designer Magnus Jansén said that it's designed to keep the pace and the action level of the game up. And while it might seem that the challenge is taken out of the game if you effectively have unlimited units, Jansén said the challenge will come in the form of timed objectives throughout the campaign. When you get down to it, what's important is going to be the type of units that you bring to the fight and how you use them.

For example, once we had our small armored task force of Bradleys assembled, it was time to take the gas station. Even with the armored personnel carriers, our forces were outgunned by the Soviet tanks. Still, the game rewards the use of tactics. We had the infantry load into the Bradleys; just select all the units and hit the Y key, and infantry will automatically board the nearest vehicle. Then we had the Bradleys drive up to some buildings adjacent to the gas station. While the Bradleys engaged the tanks, the infantry unloaded (hit the U key) and garrisoned the nearby buildings for cover (hit the H key). Meanwhile, while the Bradleys engage the tanks with their canons, you have to activate their special abilities manually. You do this by selecting a Bradley and clicking on the power in question. Smoke grenades can provide concealment against fire, while the TOW missile button lets you use tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided antitank missiles. Using these tactics allowed us to destroy the Soviet tanks and seize the gas station.

Another interesting aspect of the game is the node system. To seize the gas station, you have to control two nodes at opposite ends of the station by moving units into them and clearing them of the enemy. Once you control all the nodes to a point, you have control over that point. Meanwhile, nodes automatically fortify as long as you have units in them. In this case, the gas station nodes automatically built up machine gun positions, but we've seen in multiplayer antitank and antiaircraft positions, as well. Once the gas station was safely fortified, we could move on to our next task, which was seizing the town itself by capturing three central nodes.

While this was going on at the gas station, other American forces were battling in the distance. These represented the forces under Bannon's control, as he was tasked with capturing a supermarket while we captured the gas station. Massive wants it to feel like the battlefield is alive with chaos, even the parts of it that you aren't in. This also plays a role in the game, as you might have to come to another American unit's aid, and sometimes if you try to help them out they'll tell you to buzz off and mind your own objectives. It certainly doesn't hurt that the scale of the game is so large. You can pan the camera around and see miles off into the distance, and you can watch as the battle destroys the landscape. The graphics in World in Conflict look pretty darn good, and we were playing the DirectX 9 version of the game. The town and surrounding countryside are sharply detailed and make for a nice, picture-postcard setting, save for all the explosions going on. Sierra and Massive plan to include a DirectX 10 version with the game as well, so the visuals could potentially look even better.

World in Conflict's mix of high-tech combat, beautiful visuals, and intriguing premise makes this a real-time strategy game to keep an eye on. After all, World War III is a topic that's barely covered in gaming, and World in Conflict's approach captures the combined arms essence of modern warfare. Plus, we want to know more about the story, which was developed in cooperation with best-selling techno thriller author Larry Bond, who also cowrote with Tom Clancy the classic World War III novel Red Storm Rising. While a Soviet invasion of the USA may have seemed a bit unlikely, Jansén said that Bond was one of the government consultants whose job it was to imagine how such a thing could happen. We'll find this out for ourselves when the game ships later this year.

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147 comments
SkyriedX
SkyriedX

if anyone is asking the demo is out in august..

alfon_2190
alfon_2190

the americans are always the good guys. the same tale.

CaaP
CaaP

why the north americans are always the "good" guys?????

marco0798
marco0798

man i cant play with the sovies? wth is that about ? Anyone remember a game called C&C red alert 2. Apocalypse Tank WOOT anyway its a real shame i think everyone loves playing with the russians half the time we enjoy it more then playing with the "good guys" even though some of us wont admit it =D

fmobliv06
fmobliv06

good thing it's coming out on the 360. i dunno if i have a powerful enough computer for this, but i still want it.

bandreic
bandreic

I hate that it won't be a soviet campaign, but from what I've read and seen I think that it will be I good game.

rws71
rws71

where's the demo?

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

Sounds good. Now I'm interested in system requirements...

slyfox124
slyfox124

Haven't you guys ever heard of expansion packs?

52145
52145

by the way i forgot to mention you better use a diferent strategy in this game or it will get old very fast it wont be has fun if you allways use the same strategy and if you keep using it your oponent will allways find a way to counter it for exemple in 1 of the maps i whas allways going with arround 5 or 6 tanks capture a point named the duster hanger and they knew already that it whe me there and how many tanks i had so they atacked me with 10 medium tanks 7 heavy tanks and 5 chopers i didnt stand a chance at all.

Mex818
Mex818

yeah ive been following this game for a while....im a little upsept theirs no nato or russian campaign to...imean id rather the us campaign then the other two but i really love to follow the different story lines...oh well hopefully its still great

52145
52145

lol im alot better at resource management and base building than this but you realy get usted to it fast

AlternatingCaps
AlternatingCaps

This'll be great for me since I suck at resource management and base building. Reeeeeeeally need to work on that...

52145
52145

the pathfinding is good but sometimes youl have a few problems but i dont have alot to complain about the pathfinding. the game is very good though i hope that the full version of this game will be has good has the alpha test.....or better ;) i just hope gamespot does a tournament of world in conflict

Night117
Night117

To klinski: Did you even watch the latest trailer yet? =P The pathfinding for this game is awesome! :)

klinsi
klinsi

Ahh... very unfortunately there is apparently no scenario for the USSR ??? No base building ? Ooh can't turtling too, hehehe... Hm... I hope the PATHFINDING for this kind of game will be good and work properly so I can use my best tactical and strategic without a lot of headache ! Judging from the screenshots, this game is good and fun ! From Massive Entertainment ?? Hey what about Ground Control sequel ??? GC 2 is truly a good and fun game !! So what about sequel ??? @Flibarok Feel sorry Bro, I think there are some games that had applied this scenario in their games like C&C Red Alert (totally unmantched even today in terms of modern RTS game) and Freedom Fighters too (not RTS)

Mex818
Mex818

Good post cipher...id also like to say to the people tyring to prevent the American Bashing i sued to be one of the guys who would go out their screaming and ranting and the anti-americanism every foreigner is brought up upon by our very own media today...but you cant change their views over the computer...Yes America has done some things we may regret BUT SHUT THE **** UP, you wouldnt be here having these points of views and freedom of speech if it werent for us so once again i say QUIT YOUR ****ING WHINING YOU CRY BABY ****

52145
52145

for starters i would like to congratulate phantasmcipher for his great comment i might not be american but 1 thing is for shure i have more respect for them than anything else on the world. second people should realy try the alpha test of this game its fantastic world in conflict is one of the best rts game i ever played. the graphics are amazing even on low the gunfire is fantastic the efects jesus christ theyr awsome and the game has the most realistic sound efects i ever heard you can hear the gunfire from far away like never before youl feel like your in a real war the gameplay is very good its easy to learn until now i have to complains about the ping or lag how you prefer to call it. on my prespective i highely recomend this game its just fantastic

Nightmareplus
Nightmareplus

Can't wait to kill some commies but I also wanted to say great comment PhantasmcipherX.

kaippare
kaippare

Damn i hate the common americans.....

PhantasmCipherX
PhantasmCipherX

Wow, I am absolutely astounded by the lack of intelligence being shown in the foreigners but also inmy American brethren. Not all, but most. Now, here is the truth about the Cold War. The United States had the world's most powerful economy at the time of the cold war. What did the USSR have? Nothing. They poured all of their money into their military whereas the U.S. spent only 13% of the GDP on military. And still we were stronger. It would simply be a war of attrition. Which it was. We built up our military which in turn, the USSR built up theres. We kept doing it until they couldn't handle the financial load and eventually collapsed. The USSR didn't stand a chance against us either way, unless they were to enlist the help of China or something... but alas, they didn't. And the United States is still the most technologically proficient country in the world. We certainly aren't dumb people. Why? Because we consist of the best of every group of people. And... of course we have our share of problems, but I wouldn't want to live anywhere else in the world. Yes, our government is flawed, but so is yours. And so are your leaders. So shut the f*** up. You're either jealous, stupid, or just plain ignorant.

KillerJamJam
KillerJamJam

I wish you had a campaign status for both the Americans and Russians. Rather than having a typical 'Insert enemy name here' VS 'The United forces of the West'. I mean, yes its entertaining, but honestly, we need alternatives in scenarios and outcomes.

GOCRAZY1
GOCRAZY1

Wow I don't know if i should be surprised or not from what can happen in a discussion for a video game jeez people it is a fictional game it's not a discussion of Russians could of slaughtered the US or US has better weapons it is a game!

bojan_sokol
bojan_sokol

I want Red Alert 3. no base building? unlimited units? timed objectives?

cowseven
cowseven

This game looks cool. Yep.

02willil
02willil

lol at the Red Alert 3 claim... I wish! Although it does sound similar, we can hope lol

Primaroo
Primaroo

Wow ! Look at all the ranting ! This game might start a new cold war by itself ! Jeeze,people,it's just a frikkin game!

spow
spow

Ground Control with no aliens (ultra fast artillery sucks :( ) YEHE !

fc-anden
fc-anden

omg this is red alert 3! what seams to be great about this game are that you dont build base and units you start out with a amount of money and have to by units that way what you buy have a greater influence also no base rush

Seobazz
Seobazz

Anybody watched Tv Drama "Jericho"? Imgaine in real life we are doomed!

Sokol4ever
Sokol4ever

This could eventually prove to be a very good RTS. With many options available for the tactical combat, this could turn out to be deep strategy and fun game at the same time. Lets hope the game play delivers as good as it does with visual performance.

master_blue
master_blue

"World in Conflict is set in 1989, at the height of the old Cold War between democracy and communism." Hardly the height of the cold war by that time! "Alcotamaysees Just listened to the song. Hopefully the game will turn out better. " The songs simply to good for you to appreciate.

tomcat51
tomcat51

Red Dawn anyone? Sounds cool.

Filipbarok
Filipbarok

That's SO original! How didn't anyone thought of that before?

amerus
amerus

i love it, specialy since its not an american company thats done it where the states goes and bombs anothe country. here its the stats thats gets bombed. me like!

Alcotamaysees
Alcotamaysees

Just listened to the song. Hopefully the game will turn out better.

True_Blu3
True_Blu3

Lol, all of you are being like the Mexican and NY Mayors that are flamming games for "mocking" their state. Seriously, why are you guys making things worse for gaming? Leave the government out of it. Let them deal with real wars.

Game__Spy
Game__Spy

How many people seriously want to whine about how un historic and unlikely these events are. ITS A GAME, and by the looks of it... a dam good one. So what if the Soviets didn't have enough resources to pull off a massive invasion into America, they are just putting it into a what if scenario. I bet you people who hate inaccurate settings, must really hate Red Alert 2 as well ha ha ha, from memory it was meant to be set for the cold war as well.

bumbro8521
bumbro8521

hahaha you guys are crazy. it matters not how the govt. acted but how the people respond. by the way strikergold, not all americans are idiots just the ones who grew up rich. also the old "my nukes are more accurate/loud/and bigger than yours" gig is pointless considering that the two super powers wouldve ahnnilated everything before much combat began.

StrikerGold
StrikerGold

padaporra: You have to remember the old saying, "The victors write the history books." I hit high school right after the fall of the USSR and they were already starting to whitewash things like Iran-Contra and other less than savory aspects of the U.S. side of the Cold War. It wasn't until I did some independent reading did I get the full scope of both the good and the bad done in the name of democracy, apple pie and the American way. That said, I'm really looking forward to this game. Alternate history games done well are really slick because you're not constrained by locale or even weaponry.

padaporra
padaporra

"Texas, ur an idiot. We weren't the one's forcing people to like our govt. and if they didn't we'd kill em like Soviets did. We didn't threaten other nations so theyd join us. We didn't set up missiles a couple 100 miles from their country. So shut the **** up, if anyone would have invaded anyone, Russia wouldve been dumb and tried to invade us, like they originally were goin to do in cuba, build an army up then send em in. So in a way this game will be telling the truth abnout what would have happended if russia did go that far" u are american right? dont they teach you american history? im brazilian and i study it.

MioyokosShrink
MioyokosShrink

i just felt like clearing a few of things up. At the end of the Cold War the Soviet Union had the world's smallest and largest nuclear devices. Soviet ICBMs were no pushover either, they could land within two meters of their target and considering anything within 10m+ was vaporized (well, depending on the size of the warhead) I don't think that those two meters really mattered too much. The Soviet Union was no paper tiger. As for conventional arms, the US had superior armor, the M1 Abrams tank fought Soviet made T-80 tanks during the First Gulf War and casualties on the Iraqi side were abysmal whereas US casualties were minimal. Although the Su-27 and Mig-29 are impressive fighters, the United States had a far superior Air Force in 1989. (Harrier Jump jets, F-15s, etc) Personally, I believe that Soviet Small arms were superior to those used by US forces, however, that could just be because I don't like how prone the M-16A2 is to jamming compared to the AK-47, 47M and 74. All countries have done horrible things in the name of national security and freedom, we are not an exception. I would like to point out that in most cases the US acknowledges its mistakes and attempts to avoid them in the future, which is more than I can say for a lot of countries in the International System. I digress, this is a video game and not subject to laws of reality. I really look forward to playing this game, provided my computer doesn't die. Oh yeah, for all those people saying you can't play as the Soviets... I'm more than sure you can in Multiplayer. I won't buy this game if I can't.

texasgoldrush
texasgoldrush

"Texas, ur an idiot. We weren't the one's forcing people to like our govt. and if they didn't we'd kill em like Soviets did. We didn't threaten other nations so theyd join us. We didn't set up missiles a couple 100 miles from their country. " why don't you get educated....we overthrew and still attempt to overthrow democracies that don't agree with our policies. Chile on Sept, 11, 1973, Guatemala in the 50's, Iran in the 50's, etc. Oh, about the missles...we had missles in Turkey pointed at Moscow during the Cuban Missle Crisis. The incident led to the removal of those missles in Turkey.

TehEliteElite
TehEliteElite

I agree with sancezz too, we did a lot of horrible things to win the cold war. Just look at all the hellish governments we set up like Saddam's. Also, we supplied & trained the Afghani guerillas(sp?) who went on to become the taliban. :\