World in Conflict Single-Player Hands-On

We wage World War III in Europe and New York to get a taste of the single-player campaign in this anticipated strategy game.

Much has been written about World in Conflict's multiplayer gameplay. After all, with the conclusion of the recent multiplayer beta test, players had a chance to check out the game's cool twist on real-time strategy gameplay. Rather than build bases and gather resources or micromanage huge armies, you take part in a team game, playing an important role on a World War III battlefield. However, we haven't really had a chance to check out the game's single-player campaign. So when we got a work-in-progress version of the game recently, we dove right in to find out how the single-player and story are shaping up. Please note that the following includes slight plot spoilers.

World War III unfolds on your screen in World in Conflict.

World in Conflict is about what might have happened if the Soviet Union had decided to go down fighting in 1989 rather than collapse internally. The Red Army invades Germany and Western Europe; thus, US forces are rushed in to reinforce its allies. However, with its forces away, America is vulnerable, so the Soviets invade the West Coast, landing in Seattle. It's a heck of a premise for a game, but we were surprised to see where everything goes from there.

You play as Lieutenant Parker, a promising young officer in a battalion headed by the fiery Colonel Sawyer, and serve alongside the brash Captain Bannon. World in Conflict spends a lot of time developing these characters and the overarching plot, which itself seems fairly ambitious, as it seeks to tie together this global conflict. The story is told through stylishly drawn cutscenes and Alec Baldwin's narration. Baldwin's narrator talks from the perspective of one of the participants in the battles, so he sounds like a soldier writing his memoirs. As you'd expect from an actor of Baldwin's stature, he's excellent in the role.

We played missions from the middle of the single-player campaign, but they weren't set in the US. Rather, the first mission was set in France, and it's a flashback to the early days of the war, prior to the invasion of Seattle. The Soviet Union wiped out the US Sixth Fleet early in the war, paving the way for an amphibious invasion of Southern France. Your American unit is sent to assist the NATO forces attempting to repulse it, paving the way to liberate Marseilles.

Each mission features primary and secondary objectives. While the latter objectives are optional, they can be very helpful, as the Marseilles mission shows. Your first objective in the mission is to seize a key lighthouse facility atop a seaside bluff, but you only have 25 minutes to do it. These kind of timed objectives are common and add an appropriate amount of tension because you don't have a lot of leeway to experiment. If the clock is ticking down and you're running out of time, you have to start gambling. On the way to seize the lighthouse, you can also seize a vineyard to accomplish a secondary objective. Those aren't required, but doing so can often help you out by opening up new drop zones (by which you can receive reinforcements), as well as additional units. Capturing the hill allows you to also recapture some antiair units, which will be a bit helpful later in the mission.

There's no base building or resource gathering. There's just pure destruction.

Once the lighthouse is secure, it's on to the next objective, which is to clear a village at the base of the hill where the lighthouse is located. If you seized the aforementioned vineyard, you'll get a couple of heavy artillery units. These are basically rocket launchers that can absolutely shred buildings and units. If you played the multiplayer beta, then you know that artillery has an impressively long reach to it, so you deliver devastation from a distance. If you station the artillery atop the hill, you can use your ground units to slowly advance and act as spotters for artillery fire. Thankfully, there's not much issue with collateral damage in the game, so you can literally destroy a town to save it. Once the village is cleared, your next job is to fortify it in preparation for a Soviet counterattack. This is done by stationing units in various objective points, which slowly fortifies them with machine gun, antitank, and antiaircraft positions. You then have to withstand waves of attacking helicopters and armor, but if you're smart, you'll have dropped a repair vehicle onto the battlefield to bring damaged units back up to full health. If you can survive that, congratulations are in order because you've accomplished the mission.

The next mission involves an assault to liberate a French town. We noticed that each mission changes up the units that you can requisition in battle. In the prior mission, you operated mainly with a handful of armored units and artillery. In this mission, you're assigned with infantry squads and light tanks. Infantry comes in different forms: There's regular infantry, antitank infantry, and snipers. All of them are vulnerable in the open, but if you get them in a building or a wood, they can ambush passing units effectively. The key to this mission is to seize the two bridges leading into town and then capture a couple of Soviet artillery units, which you can use to level fortified positions. There's nothing better than exploding buildings and houses in which Soviet infantry are garrisoned. Once you seize the town, you have to turn around and defend against a fierce counterattack.

Command US and NATO units in battle. You can play as the Red Army in multiplayer.

After your adventures in France, the story begins to really veer around the globe. This time, it's off to the Artic Circle and Soviet territory, but you aren't exactly invading. A stealth bomber on a recon mission has crashed, and you have to recover the intelligence then rescue the crew. The start of this battle has you leading a handful of Norwegian Ranger squads with no possibility of reinforcement until you achieve the opening objectives. Thankfully, the Norwegian Rangers have plenty of forest cover to rely on and can call in artillery strikes, which can be used to take out enemy antiaircraft positions. Once the area is clear, reinforcements arrive. You'll then be able to draw upon armored personnel carriers and antiaircraft guns in this mission. But you must also seize a train station and search for the pilots before extracting out of the level.

Things get a bit tougher in the following mission, which is an assault on a Soviet submarine base. You have to capture a couple of subs and defend your position against an incredibly lengthy counterattack. You do this to buy time for engineers to scour the subs for intelligence and destroy them. A secondary objective involves taking out a nearby Soviet helicopter base, which will make your job defending a bit easier, but you'll still face wave after wave after wave of Soviet armor. In this mission, you get reinforcement with a mix of infantry and heavy tanks. But the key is to rely on tactical aid, which you can use to call in artillery and air strikes. Tactical aid plays a crucial role and is available in different forms in each mission. One mission might have paratroopers and carpet bomb strikes, while another will feature napalm and cluster bombs. Unfortunately, we didn't have the option to draw on tactical nuclear weapons in any of the missions that we played, but what we did get to play with was still pretty fun. You gain tactical aid points by simply killing the enemy or doing your job to help the battle, such as transporting troops around or repairing vehicles.

The final mission that we played brings the action back to American soil, though this is still all part of the story prior to the invasion of Seattle. The Soviets have landed Spetznaz commandos on Governor's Island and Ellis Island in New York Harbor. You have to root them out and will actually provide air support in this mission for all the ground troops. You get a mix of Cobra and Apache attack helicopters, but you only have a limited number of them, so you have to be careful. Unlike in other missions, where you can simply requisition replacements almost as quickly as units are destroyed, there are only a handful of spare helicopters available in New York for you to use. The climax of this mission also has you saving the Statue of Liberty, so make sure you preserve your helicopter force as soon as possible.

Each mission that we played featured a nice change of pace from its predecessor, along with different tactical situations and challenges. It takes about an hour or more to get through each one, but thankfully, you can save at any time during a mission. In fact, you can create multiple save points. That way, you don't have to restart the mission from the beginning if you fail.

If you were afraid that the single-player would become a huge management mess, you can stop worrying. You only have a finite amount of requisition points that you can use to purchase units. If you go for the heavy and expensive units, then you can only have about four to eight of those at any one time. So not only do you have a relatively small number of units, but you'll also want to keep them together to maximize their firepower. You also still feel like your part of a much larger battle because you'll have allies fighting on your flanks, which are controlled by the computer.

World in Conflict is gearing up to hit shelves this September.

World in Conflict also remains one of the most visually impressive games of the year. The battlefields are large, and the environmental destruction is awesome. Napalm strikes burn down forests and towns, while carpet bombings shatter buildings and vehicles. The scale of the game and the destruction is amazing. During the first French mission, you'll get to the top of the bluff and look around to see the countryside torn apart by explosions and fire.

When you put it all together, it's not surprising that World in Conflict collected many of the strategy awards from last month's E3 Media and Business Summit. The gameplay is innovative and refreshing, while the graphics are excellent. The rest of the production values also appear first-rate. The game is really coming together in the final stretches, and it appears that it'll be ready to ship in September.

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90 comments
Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

It's an fps in an RTS way. If you want strategy, as in 'Real Time STRATEGY' don't come here. We have been moving to dumber and dumber gameplay in more and more games, and now we have an RTS with little in the way of strategy but a demand for FPS mouse clicking speeds instead! Thank God for Medieval Total War: Kingdoms to give gamers who want to use their brains something to enjoy. This is the inexpiable move toward yet another genre being subsumed into the FPS genre, just like practically all genres. At this rate what games are going to NOT be 'twitch' games? So if you are an FPS sort of gamer, get this, but if you are a strategy gamer look elsewhere, cos' this might be called an RTS, but it most certainly isn't.

rockatanski
rockatanski

LOL!! The trailer is hilarious! I wonder if it's serious or are they making fun of it. Hard to tell with this game!

starsky303
starsky303

Just played the demo. Thought it was great! I completed the mission but missed out on 2 of the secondary objectives. Lot's going on... although at one point I seriously didn't know WHAT was going on. Love the support strikes and the fact that each unit has its own special ability which YOU have to activate so it's not just a case of leaving them to get on with it. This'll be a good game me thinks! 8/10!

zerapup
zerapup

The game is very interesting and impressive. But i hope they will make Soviet side storyline in expansion.

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

Well, I have played the demo and wish to do a little preview: First, I think the graphics are okay. Not great, but okay. I am not American, so didn't get involved in any of the pre-hype, so I say it squarely: It has an interesting story, well done, and I can see people getting involved in it. It has good sound effects and voice overs, but the in movies are good on content nbut a little off technically. The default options of WASD to move forward, back, left and right and the mouse to look up and down and circle left and circle right takes a little bit of getting used to. As I played I kept on moving the mouse to the top of the screen to move forward and felt that if the controls were exactly the opposite, I would have been happier. The demo seems good value, as for a first run through of the mission and tutorial, I found that over an hour had gone by. I had lost the mission, and I will be trying again. So overall I would recommend the demo, but don't think the game will match Company of Hero's. It is nice looking, nice sounding, but other than the story of Russia invading America, it doesn't have a huge amount going for it for Company of Heroes and Supreme Commander officianados, but for gung-ho American gamers, the story will probably be enough, and it's not so bad that I couldn't say buy this game for those U.S. customers! Based on the demo, I don't think i'd buy the game. I personally have lots of niggles. The camera changes direction from dropping troops in 2D to the battleground in 3D. This leaves you having to work out where you are in the town. There is not an obvious system to show what buildings your soldiers are in and between the camera changing viewpoint and not working out immediately where your soldiers are does lead to confusion. I am quite prepared to say some of it was because of first time play, but I have played many RTS's and I know when I am not confortable with either cntrols or command of my troops. I certainly feel me losing that first mission by the small amount I did was more about the lack of control I had of my trioops than the strategy I used to win the battle. So in conclusion: I qould give 80% for graphics, 85% for sound and 80% for gameplay. With my tilt, i'd give an overall score of 85% (Gamespot) and 82% (IGN).

maximus_2
maximus_2

waht?.... you can play on as USa!?!? duh... sighs... thats not good

sloakz
sloakz

Oh yes! i WANT this game. the graphics and the gameplay are looking great ... its looks like the camera use is good as well! Roll on release day!

matkwan
matkwan

Latest trailer's soundtrack taken from Magnum P.I. starring Tom Selleck. Love the show and music by Carpenter

CookiesCream
CookiesCream

haha...more bombs!!! the latest trailer reminds me of some 80s TV show Miami Vice?

DarkRecruit
DarkRecruit

"Having just one campaign in a multi faction game is not good." You mean like CoH?

fixdeluxe1
fixdeluxe1

I want the full edition because I was to late to play the beta

r1410
r1410

The trailer was awful. Doesn't do the game justice at all.

komet999
komet999

Already have it pre-ordered...yup, lifes good.

SA80_Assault
SA80_Assault

Wow, i must say thats a pretty funky trailer. The first one (trailer) is better though as it gives a true representation of the game.

sridanu
sridanu

Yeah i agree with NAMMY. Having just one campaign in a multi faction game is not good.

-NAMMY-
-NAMMY-

Sounds interesting, though I hope you ca play as the Soviets sometime (prob in a an expansion pack). And how did people not know the tune ...

ColdstoneX3
ColdstoneX3

looks great and awesome, not to mention pretty good

surppo
surppo

you say the music from magnum p.i. i must own this game!

X-MANGAMES
X-MANGAMES

I think it will be a cool game. X-MANGAMES Iraq

Vorlonwatcher
Vorlonwatcher

Reading the comments on this article makes me feel so old. 1. The music is from Magnum P.I. -- Google it, folks. 2. The trailer mimics that show's opening credit style. 3. The game is set in the 1980s, hence their choice to give this trailer a 1980s feel. Now that I've cleared that up would you kids get off my damn lawn?!!!!

Apuleyo
Apuleyo

Ahhh, another deception?

pidow
pidow

I don't know about this one?.

britannia07
britannia07

this is a gr8 game i played the beta test and its amazing even on low graphics setting there being 5/6 graphics settings the 80s trailer was gd but a think people would not just watch the one trailer they would check out the others

Desgardios
Desgardios

Great game but with a trailer like that it will give people the wrong impression. I would take that out and just plug in gameplay videos, at least then you can show what the game is truly like

slimjim203
slimjim203

The game designers were just screwing around, playing with the whole 80's theme...i'm sure the game is wound a bit tighter than that. I wish i could have participated in the beta testing, I'm itching to get my hands on this game. It's going to rock ballz.

-Masterchef-
-Masterchef-

Wow, the music in the trailer is horrible.

Kubilius
Kubilius

Omg, the trailer really looks super bad :/ I wonder why they made a single player overall, the whole greatness of this game is SupremeCommander-CounterStrike alike Multiplayer gameplay. In singleplayer i doubt it will be any better than 10000000000 other games. Waste of time by developers. And very bad taste in music in this trailer, i must say. NVM - the multiplayer is still gonna rock for a very long time, woooohooo!!!

Kubilius
Kubilius

Must agree - BETA was super addictive, one of the very few games I accept to buy, instead of ... you know... :)

SS11SS
SS11SS

I played in the beta, and I have to say, this is one of the best games I have EVER played.

SS11SS
SS11SS

I played in the beta, and I have to say, this is one of the best games I have EVER played.

doanm
doanm

For me, there is just far too much irony when it comes to World in conflict trailers whenever I juxtapose them. I see one trailer that is just damn awesome enough to be the best trailer out of all game trailers I have ever seen(being the "looking for survivors" one) and then I see a really horrible trailer (being this one) which I deemed as one of the worst game trailers I have ever seen.

funtanas32
funtanas32

Yea Mach's right i read the forums myself and there is skirmish. looks like i will be getting the game after all. but i still dont think it will be better than supreme commander.

mach-stem
mach-stem

hact, you seem to be one of the most uninformed person on this specific game. If you'd of followed any of the alpha or beta event, it can clearly be known that that multiplayer will have skirmish, with bots. Heck, check beta.massgate.net (or is it .com) if it's still up, and read through the forums. Do your research. I believe that this game will be a definite must for war/tactical gamers, FPS and RTS gamers. It's engaging, beautiful to look at and play with, and extremely addictive. The level of detail alone is something to be admired. No game will ever be perfect, but this is one I will own the day it is released. PEACE

lotsofgunfire
lotsofgunfire

I seriously thought they would stop doing trailer like that but no, go shove the Magnum p.i. theme in there...

IVampDth
IVampDth

Looks great, Been wanting to play this since i first heard about it :)

monkeytoes61
monkeytoes61

this sounds pretty good. barbarian invasion, starcraft 2, or this?

joppe2
joppe2

Where did you guys hear that there is no skirmish? In Wic you can play with or against bots (other than campaign). This can be done in all mp maps and modes. Isn't that called skirmish?

funtanas32
funtanas32

No Hactorx is right about the no Skirmish I mean that is the most important element about a Stragety game to have the ability to just jump in and play aginist different dificulties and not have to just play online and get destroyed by people who play the game all the time and have no life. I might just not buy the game now after finding that out. It shows thet massive didnt have the time to make an AI out side of the campaing. But the game does look totally awsome and i cant wait to run it on max settings if it does indeed havea skirmish Supreme Commander Is still the sickest and most massive stragety game to date and its only getting better

ps3ruler
ps3ruler

hactorx you seem to be incredibly narrow minded, i think this game looks awesome.

joppe2
joppe2

hactorx, there is skirmish, you can play all the maps online and offline. How about you trying the game before trashing it?

hactorx
hactorx

Na, no skirmish, just online and simple story. Many of these games are nothing but crap once you buy it. Remember how promising the last warhammer mark of chaos was? but then half of the people that bought it could not install it. Half the buttons were missing in the menu. Will see how good this will be. STARCRAFT, WARCRAFT AND DARK CRUSADE, BEST GAMES EVER MADE! nothing comes close. only future hopefull is empire earth 3, hopefully they fixed all the problems of the 2nd one

ryan-man
ryan-man

meh we will c if it so great as they say it is.(single-player)

jocke2000
jocke2000

That trailer is awesome!!! The game is even more awesome!!! The Nuke is even MORE awesome!!! Overall it's MEGA-awesome!!! :P

Makhdoom82
Makhdoom82

Nice Single-Player mission story and also good Multiplay elements .... All in all the game seems to be doing nice !!! and looks awesome too !!!

game46312
game46312

hey i play the beta the game is cool hey madman the reason that the nukes where small because u have to save up some more TA points for a bigger blast if u look u see there was a 80 100 120 levels, hey rosscero u get resources by just waiting the points just add up by themself, and jwallace good criticism but by the game come out it will be better then the demo.

jwallace1023
jwallace1023

honestly i played the beta, not impressed sorry massive e, but the combat is really just not a base for a good rts from what i got in the multiplayer demo. i mean, it could be cool in singleplayer with TA, and the graphic are super sharp and very well done, with destructibility, but gameplay wise, i think thats the lame leg that holds the horse back. will be watching it and hoping it turns into something, but im not absolutely positive at this point,.