With Massive Entertainment’s spectacular World In Conflict causing some big ripples in the slow depths of the real time strategy I found myself once again contemplating its sci-fi ancestor, Ground Control. This exquisitely unassuming game first trundled onto my PC in June 2000 and ever since I’ve been waiting for a worthy successor. Playing it again in 2007 was an interesting experience. I got to see how it has aged well graphically, despite the relative lack of detail and the low-res 3D, while it hasn’t aged well in terms of pacing and production. It still has a sense of style, but it certainly lacks the high-end bombast and gameplay timing of the more recent game. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help thinking, when reviewing the World In Conflict single player campaign, that Massive had missed a trick or two from their original game.
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Posts Tagged ‘World-in-Conflict’
Yes, we know. You’ll all playing a certain game. We understand; we are too. But there’s other games you should be keeping your eye on, so tear your vision away from the Heavy cackling as he opens fire and failing to understand when the medic uses the charged up invulnerability thing on you you are invulnerable, so you should act like it rather than sitting in cover. Psch!
Since Jim and my reviews won’t be online for a while, we thought it worth directing you towards Dan Whitehead’s Eurogamer review of World in Conflict. Jim and I, while we’d have probably leaned heavier on Frankie Goes to Hollywood gags, mostly concur – though I’d argue its more than just Ground Control III, as Dan tends to argue. Multi-player excels, single-player just about gets away with it. Talking personally, it’s probably my favourite RTS of the year so far and this was before I even got to wear the hat. Out Friday in the UK.
Oh, okay. You can go now. We’ve kept you from TF2 for long enough. And to satisfy your urges in that direction, here’s a link to Tom Bramwell’s Eurogamer review of said Valve-online shooter to keep you amused until we’ve finalized exactly what we’re going to do about the assorted Orange Box games (Clue: A stupidly large amount).
You can tell RPS has arrived, because we’ve started to receive glorious tat from publishers. And, being spendthrift grasshoppers instead of tedious ants, we’re clearly going to give it away. What have we to give you? Well, Vivendi have lobbed us two (count ‘em!) World in Conflict Cossack hats, which add a suitably soviet ambiance to whatever look you choose to rock. For example, here’s our model showing a Rasputin the Mad Games Journalist look, which is almost certain to be terribly popular this season.
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I’ve been working in PC Gamer’s office for the last couple of days, and with half an hour free at the end of the day, Tim told me to hammer out a blog post for them based around the game of World in Conflict we played at Lunch. Which Tim won. Frustratingly.
Here’s a bit which stands alone out of context…
One of my favourite wins in World in Conflict was on a server where I was on the USA team, and the USSR were on a long winning run. It was close, but they just had a slightly better team. But I suspected they weren’t *that* good, and decided to try something suicidal. They used their artilery well, so – playing Armour – I ignored the capture points and rushed for the backline to harass their support units. Two helicopter units chase me around the backlines as I annoy the couple of support players. I’m killed relatively quickly, but I’ve opened up enough space for my side to just sweep the map. By the time I’ve respawned my army, we’re claiming the final command point. A crushing defeat after a string of such close-victories had the USA scratching their head. I left, grinning enigmatically to find clan requests in my account next time I logged in. Result!
It’s more than a little rushed (I did say it was in half an hour, and it’s hardly a short post) but this is the sort of thing which I’m thinking about doing more of here, as and when the right game presents itself. Clearly the ideal model would be Tom Francis’ incredible diary of his ridiculous Galactic Civilizations 2: The Dread Lords game, which I’m never going to match, but I think it’s a fun way to talk about the actual mechanics of a game – by getting specific and showing the thought processes and all that.
Is it the sort of thing people will be interested in reading? Read it and tell me, will’ya.
World In Conflict is the direct descendant of my favourite RTS, also by Massive Entertainment, Ground Control. You can download that ancient sci-fi strategy from here, and if you do you’ll see that it still stands up today. The way that it stripped away the traditional use of resources (eg Tiberium and base-building in C&C) left a kind of raw tactical challenge – just what can you do with a handful of units, and nothing else?
This acute challenge has mostly been lost from World In Conflict, which means that the single player will be a little disappointing for Ground Control veterans, and a lightweight but fun action sequence for anyone else. The fact that you can call in endless air-drops (as in Ground Control 2) basically takes away the tension. They try to add it with time-limits and so on, but it doesn’t always work. Massive have chosen a good single player map for this demo, however, and there are a number of such highlights throughout the game.
Of course multiplayer is where the meat is. WiC’s focus is on the up-to-eight-aside class-based battles. In case you missed the beta: you can play as infantry, tanks, helicopters, or anti-aircraft/artillery support, and pool resources with other players to bring in airstrikes of increasing magnitude, all the way up to a nuke. The tactical game is Battlefield 2 zoomed all the way out. You have to capture and hold points across a large landscape and doing that requires/demands teamwork. It’s the kind of game that I feel I could happily play as a part of a clan, and it makes me wonder whether it’ll be popular enough to be the Counter-Strike of the RTS. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Oh and it’s very, very pretty. DX10 explosions do make quite a difference…
Like almost everyone I know I’ve spent too many hours capturing large red or white circles in the World In Conflict Beta. There’s something particularly compulsive about trying to hold a small area on your own, while the rest of your team mills about across the battlefield, attacking the enemy without rhyme or reason. I particularly like playing as infantry and fortifying a position as best I can, fending off tank attacks and napalm deluges with my tiny soldiers. Initially I thought that playing as infantry was the very worst option, but now I understand completely that in fact it is helicopters that are actually the least interesting option. If you want to challenge your tactical self, then you need to be support or infantry.
What I think WiC does, aside from create a palpable “battlefield” atmosphere, is allow you to feel like you can influence the battle outside of your direct area of control. Even if you can’t get units to an area that’s in trouble, the tactical support allows you to call in artillery or airstrikes to help out. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m just glad I can finally talk about this without breaking an NDA or eight.
Massive have launched their open beta of their Cold War RTS, World in Conflict. I was playing in the closed beta, and biting my tongue to avoid just lobbing an enormous essay up on my blog about why I think it’s perhaps potentially the most interesting RTS of the year. I suspect I’ll end up riffing on the game for the rest of the year, assuming it holds together. Which is always a big “assuming” to make, but let’s try being optimistic for once.
With any luck, this will be to Massive’s previous Ground Control games, what Battlefield 1942 was to Codename: Eagle. That is, a game that takes relatively obscure source material and manages to bring it to an enormous audience. I can’t see why not. The WW3 setting is criminally under-used (And, as an aside, when it has been used it’s lead to some fascinating games – cross reference the definitive Soldier Sim, Flashpoint: Cold War Conflict). Massive have always believed in RTS which are inspired as much by team deathmatch games as the traditional lineage – so we have short games, no-real economics and close-teamwork. It’s different enough to be interesting but based on mechanics so simple that I suspect I’ll even be able to get Walker to play a game or two.
Highlight so far: Sweeping my tanks into the irradiated zones immediately after a nuke’s hit, which is about as apocalyptic as gaming has got this year. The little fluffy mushroom cloud slowly fading as my tank treads crush the scorched remains…
End of the world as we know it. Feels fine.