With a multitude of World War II games smothering the real-time strategy genre, it was a breath of fresh air to see a game set in the Cold War. By itself the Cold War doesn’t have the massive battles you could base a game around, but if the history is carefully altered, many possibilities exist. What would have occurred if a peace treaty was never signed by Russia? What if Russia would have projected its forces onto our front lawn? If you are curious in figuring out what I am babbling on about, you will have to read on or experience the game for yourself.

World in Conflict is one of those games that looks good during the development but once you dive into the gameplay of said game, you truly see how enjoyable the experience is. The single player portion of World in Conflict has you playing the American troops that are stationed back in the homeland as it is secretly assaulted by the Russians. I don’t want to spoil any of the plot elements, so I will leave you with just this tidbit of information on the storyline. The single player campaign only lasts around 7-10 hours, depending on the difficulty, and is there to prepare you for the slaughterfest that is online play. Lets not forget that is game is a deviation from the usual science fiction or world war 2 deluge of games that have been released as of late, and this freshness definitely has an appeal to any gamer worn out with the before mentioned genres. So, why does this game deserve your gaming dollars compared to any of other RTSs out there? Read on to find out the startling truth.

Test Rig: Core2Duo E6300, 4 gigs of Ram, 8800GTX, and running Vista Ultimate.

Collector’s Edition: History Channel Video, Piece of the Berlin Wall, Making Of Video, Game on DVD, sadly all packed in paper sleeves.

It doesn’t matter if you are using DX9 or DX10, World in Conflict looks amazing. From the exquisite detail on the units to the nuclear explosions that rock the battlefield, World in Conflict delivers. I was surprised when I zoomed in on one of the helicopters and saw the pilots going about their business. Panning the camera around the nuclear explosions made me shudder as I would never want anyone to witness such destructive power…it becomes even worse when the max of three explosions go off. All of these explosions and units would account for a pretty generic RTS if it weren’t for the deformable terrain.

Imagine a pristine mountain village in America…birds chirp, trees and human constructions leave peacefully among each other. Then the the fighting starts. A nuclear weapon detonates in the middle of a stronghold in the center of the town. Buildings are flattened. Infantry loses its hiding spots and tanks cannot hide behind the buildings for cover. Not only nuclear weapons, but regular cannon fire will slowly take its toll on the landscape. Everything from laser-guided missiles to carpet-bombing leaves a swath of destruction in its wake. As the battle progresses, not only does the terrain change shape, but the weather slowly begins to morph into something more sinister. There might have been sunlight and happiness at the beginning of the battle, but this is slowly consumed by the darkness that is war.

To run this game at full capacity, you will need some decent hardware, though. On our forums, we have had gamers who have everything from a 6800GT to a 8800GTX run the game successfully. Having lower end hardware doesn’t allow for the luxury of turning on all of the bells and whistles and you will have to more than likely sacrifice some of the visual quality. Also, if you are interested in the DX10 graphics effects, you will need both a DX10 capable video card and Windows Vista. This might be a slightly high investment depending on what kind of hardware you are running.

A battlefield might look nice, but without proper sound to accompany the game, it is lacking a huge part in what makes a game successful. Luckily, World in Conflict delivers in spades. The voice-overs in this game allow for a rapport with the characters as they are read with emotion and it sounds like real actors behind the digital characters. You could compare it to watching an A-class movie. If more games would take certain cues from the World in Conflict in voice acting, we wouldn’t have some of these horrid translations and soulless voices in games. Not only do the cut scenes have high quality voice overs, but also during battles the chatter can be heard over the comm channels.

Nuclear explosions…artillery…machine gun fire…it all sounds spectacular. It sounds as if you are part of the battle as the music of battle plays its symphony. Again, the nuclear missiles sound as good as they look. The buzz of broken communication channels, the geiger counter responding to the sudden increase in radioactivity…all are the hallmarks of such a blast. You have to experience the game to see what I am talking about.

If you have experienced other RTS games, you should feel right at home with World in Conflict. As always, the mouse provides the most input capability with the keyboard allowing you to set easily selectable teams and provide input to the menus. The most important improvement that has been added to the RTS genre is the intuitive camera panning controls. Once you experience the ones that are included in World in Conflict, you will wonder why other games haven’t adopted the same control scheme. The ease at which you can zoom around the battlefield is a definite asset to making the game playable. Disappointingly enough, plenty of games still cannot get the camera panning controls right.  Also, I would like to mention the VOIP that is included with the game sounds crystal clear and definitely helps teamwork along. Both the singleplayer campaign and the multiplayer portion of the game are enticing and have their pros and cons. Luckily, the complete package is one masterpiece that will not release its grip on the player even after the singleplayer campaign is finished. The Massgate service allows for an enjoyable online service with some small hiccups that have been reported and hopefully will be fixed soon.

The singleplayer campaign in World of Conflict might be short, at about 9-10 hours, but that time was one of the most hectic and satisfying experiences I was able to play through in a while. As mentioned previously, the game’s premise is based on the idea that the Soviet Union never agreed to a treaty thus never ending the Cold War. The campaign takes you from the mainland US to Russia and back as the beleaguered US defenders attempt to rectify the issue of the Soviet Union on their home turf. In the singleplayer campaign, you never have access to all of the units and special powers that are available online as it is supposed to be a Once the single player campaign is finished, there will not be a real reason to return to it unless nostalgia hits. The meat is in the multiplayer and it shows, as the game is already part of the Cyber-Athlete competitions. The multiplayer portion does such an amazing job, though, allowing people with limited time to jump right in or allowing a dedicated clan to use this as their main game. In my opinion, this game will be around for quite some time till another game dethrones it. It looks as if nothing similar will come along for some time though.