[[World in Trouble]]
There's good news for RTS fans, finally an addition to the genre that is not WWII related; so is it World War III? World in Conflict, by Sierra Entertainment and Massive Games, introduces players to an alternate reality where the Cold War has led to massive global conflict; WWIII.
Developer, Massive Games, has had extensive and successful experience at developing non WWII RTS titles, as the Ground Control series will confirm. This is their most ambitious, and first non-sci-fi, title however as the scale is simply immense.
World in Conflict presents a chillingly authentic Cold War scenario where the Berlin Wall never fell. Created by Cold War authority and best-selling author Larry Bond, the story begins in 1989 as the Soviets, fearing certain collapse, boldly advance into Europe. NATO responds in force only to be met on a second front - a full-fledged invasion of the American homeland. Players take on the role of field commander, leading the era's most powerful military machines in the campaign to retake America's cities and suburbs.
With World in Conflict, our focus has been to create the maximum number of tactical choices, climactic battles and other game-shifting events that occur during each scenario or multiplayer match, said Martin Walfisz, Founder and CEO of Massive Entertainment. We've done this through a focus on the one thing people love most about strategy gaming - the combat.
This is gonna hurt in the morning
Features in World in Conflict include:
- Super-Powered Warfare: Unleash the arsenals of the great military superpowers in the gripping single-player story created by Larry Bond
- Bleeding-Edge Graphics - The latest version of Massive's proprietary Masstech engine allows for a full 360° range of camera control and features advanced lighting and physics effects
- Complete Destructibility - As the battle rages, the world environment pays the price - every object in the game will crumble under the force of war, including cars, buildings and forests
- Deep Multiplayer Modes: Using Massive's proprietary Massgate multiplayer server system, World in Conflict will support up to 16 players for head-to-head, team-based battles
- Real World Units: Players will take control of the most devastating arsenal of military weaponry ever created, including Soviet, American and NATO tanks, planes, trucks, troops and helicopters as well as nuclear weapons
- Player Roles - Players will choose to play as Infantry, Armor, Support Forces, or Aerial specialists; multiplayer teams will need to master each role for maximum effectiveness
Originally slated for a Spring 2007 release, World in Conflict is now expected on September 18.
Read on to discover how World in Conflict plans to introduce the RTS genre to next-gen gaming…
It is usually hard to know what to expect when a gaming genre makes the jump to the next-gen; is it all just about improved graphics? With World in Conflict however, you have a simple, yet powerful, explanation of what is coming your way from "Cece" Cederstrom, lead game designer of Team 2 at Massive, We want to take this really beautiful environment, that looks amazing, then just set out a war on this map, and blow everything to pieces. And when you're done, you're fighting in an ashtray. That's the goal of it all. Burn it down.
Destruction, and plenty of it, seems to be the driving force behind World in Conflict then; but there is some method to its madness. To begin to understand how the game will play, you will first need to understand the task with which Larry Bond, co-writer of many Tom Clancy novels, was burdened. Envision a past/future which results in an American/Soviet conflict in the late eighties. This what if scenario would allow Massive to unravel their vision of what a next-gen RTS game should look and play like.
As the Soviet war machine invades the U.S., in an attempt to divert attention from its war in Europe, the scene is set for an epic, high definition, war to end all wars. The single player campaign is made up of fourteen missions, each taking place on a new map. Since each mission will include multiple objectives, it is expected to take a, well-versed, player over one hour to complete. This would make the single player a 15-25 hour experience, depending on the style of each player.
Nuclear explosions play havoc with the light
The maps will vary considerably and will feature real world locations such as France, Russia and even downtown Seattle. Each map will be totally destructible allowing players to become innovative with the destruction they unleash. The player assumes the role of Lieutenant Parker and has to rise within the ranks and earn the right to use bigger and more powerful weapons, "Cece" explains, You are not supreme commander in our game. You are one of the guys fighting in the trenches, fighting for your life and the life of your men. It's not like you're sitting in some war room and just ordering units. You're there on the battlefield, and that's an important difference.
The rest of the cast, Massive have gone after strong characters in the game, is made up of the no-nonsense, old school Colonel Sawyer; the career soldier, Captain Webb; and the inexperienced Captain Bannon , whose career you witness unfold during the progress of the game.
"The Briefings", cutscenes which aim to ease players into the missions, provide the necessary information but also add to the emotional impact of the game by providing characters and detailed facial features which draw the player in. During your mission a variety of scripted events, such as the bombing of an area by the U.S. Air Force, will take place and their aftermath i.e. the smoking remains of a U.S. target, will mark the mission environment.
As with any RTS, the more units you control the more havoc you may unleash and in World in Conflict you can control up to over 20 units with the U.S. faction, even more with the Soviets and the mysterious, third faction. All units, of course, fit in with the late 80's era chosen as the game's background. The immersion effect of the game is not exhausted at facial characteristics and detailed unit, over 10,000 lines of radio chatter have been recorded and are replayed during the course of your missions.
Once the mission begins you may explore your surroundings using the game's 3D Camera system which will let you preview the entire map in all its visually stunning glory. You will not, of course, be able to see enemy units that you have not also spotted, in-game. Additional navigational aid comes from the MegaMap, an overhead 3D view of the terrain which holds updated terrain information; so if something is destroyed you can see it on your MegaMap.
When an objective is captured, immediate fortifications will appear including anti-air, anti-tank and machine-gun. Cece made Massive's intentions clear, We do not have any base-building or resource-harvesting. We focus on action, and getting quickly into the matches and just having fun.
The developers of World in Conflict have invested a great deal in the game's multiplayer mode as they see MP being an essential part of a modern RTS. Players do not get command of an entire army but instead have to choose from four categories; air, armor, infantry, and support.
An in-game reward system offers players Tactical Aid Points for every successful attack. Aggregating those points leads to the availability of special attacks ranging from air-support to a nuclear strike. Full details of the multiplayer mode are being closely guarded by Massive but it is clear that those classic modes such as assault and skirmish will be definitely available. These will have teams competing to gain checkpoints, spread out across the map.
The multiplayer system, according to Massive, has been developed with teamwork in mind. Protecting bases or attacking them successfully will depend on coordinated and well-thought out strategies.
Massive has lofty ambitions for World in Conflict and no such goals can be achieved without the appropriate technology. The most impressive features of WiC have to do with its stunningly detailed visuals although we also have to mention the innovative use of AI which also greatly adds to the immersive properties of the game.
Most demos and presentations of the game have taken place in DX9 but we are assured that the end-product will be a full DX10 title. The WiC game engine comes with a full, next-gen set of features and seems to be able to perform feats of visual beauty without overstressing processors.
One of the most advertised properties of Massive's engine has to be the use of soft particles. Since destructions and explosions are a major part of WiC's appeal, developers have given those actions particular attention. Soft particle technology allows dust and smoke particles to take on 3D properties making plumes of smoke and clouds of dust appear extremely lifelike. The graphics engine also utilizes volumetric light effects in order to allow for more realistic cloud and cloud shadow effects as well as for the interaction of light with the soft particles.
This is one busy war
The more numerous DX9 users will also get to enjoy a visually beautiful game but it will definitely not feel next-gen unless you see a nuke go off on a DX10 setup.
As already mentioned, the game engine provides an amazing level of detail, even on DX9 rigs, which offer facial detail and weapon, vehicle and terrain detail unlike any other RTS; even Company of Heroes fades into past-gen insignificance when compared to the glistening metal or swaying grass witnessed in World in Conflict. The more impressive feature of the game engine is that it delivers most effects in a very smooth way courtesy of its support for dual-core processors; with quad-core support in the pipeline.
A.I. plays an important part in the game. Its first task is to offer realistic and challenging opposition in the single player game. In order to achieve this, Massive has had to research every aspect of the hardware used by the factions in order to have a list of weaknesses and possible opposition targets. When involved in fighting in a Bradley armored personnel vehicle for example, your opponents will look for ways to approach you from the rear as the armor in the rear of the unit is much weaker.
Another impressive A.I. feature is the command of friendly units. While moving through the map you will often run into firefights involving friendly, A.I. controlled units; these skirmishes are part of those little touches by Massive which add a great deal to the immersive qualities of the game.
World in Conflict comes to us from an experienced developer with an excellent track record. This however, is a very ambitious title, a game waiting to capitalize on the newfound popularity of the R.T.S. genre, fueled by the success of Company of Heroes. But World in Conflict is also offering a new perspective on RTS gaming.
Sporting top F.P.S. production values, and a budget to match, WiC hopes to bring yet more gamers to the genre by focusing on the three A's; Action, Action and Action. This move to next-gen is a risky move by Massive as the genre has not yet proved it can accommodate a blockbuster. The success of Company of Heroes seems to suggest that there is a market out there for well made RTS games and that sales will support a big budget title. What World in Conflict has to demonstrate is that it has what it takes to keep gamers interested.
Beauty and the Beast
Our experience with the game definitely suggests that WiC not only has what it takes to succeed but that it offers an overall improvement to the RTS experience and compares well with the very successful, Company of Heroes.
Developed by Massive Entertainment, World in Conflict is expected to release on September 18, 2007.