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…