World in Conflict…. Bloody Perfection [*****]

I’m sitting with my buddy on a couple of crates on the outskirts of Seattle, WA. After searching everywhere… I finally find a pair of AA batteries for my brand new portable CD player. As we both lean in to hear the first sweet sound of music in weeks… we break out in song. Whitesnake’s ‘Here I Go Again’ blaring out loud as I look over the shattered landscape. Seattle lies in ruin, the Soviets have lost this battle and the Chinese are headed home.

What the hell am I talking about?

World in Conflict – otherwise known as the greatest peace of war time porno for the PC I’ve ever played in my life. Placing you smack in the middle of World War 3, you shift between 3 primary theaters, Europe and both coasts of the USA.

World War III never happened, well, not yet at least. The Cold War ended as the Soviet Empire crumbled under the force of US arsenals and propaganda. WIC brings you to the point of ‘what if?’

The Soviets are on a mission of conquest in Europe, a month after we gain the upper hand with our allies, they invade Seattle. They invade New York. Using just about every weapon of the time possible, we fight. A war only Winston Churchill could understand is plotted out in gigantic, scenic, and highly detailed maps. Each mission consists of waypoints that must be crossed or controlled. When controlling a waypoint, you must strategically place resources at each waypoint to both ‘dig in’ and allow automated fortifications to be built. Don’t relax for a second, as in most cases once you control a set of waypoints you must roll off towards another objective.

Reinforcements and air assaults are provided depending on how successful your attacks are. Fail on artillery or air-strikes, and the air force won’t be so quick to provide massive levels of airborne destruction. Lose tanks and you can add more, but one of the many features this game excels at is balance. You never get more than you need, you always have just enough to get the job done as long as you play smart. Some objectives rely on infantry, others on heavy armor, some require air support or anti-air. You’ll always have what you need – just make sure to use it right and not get dead.

The imagery in the game is downright pornographic. No real blood and guts, but accurate representations of the US under siege. Between missions there are cinematics which put you into the situation at home, where soldiers call home… the confusion, dismay, and hope of war in every conversation. Anyone who doesn’t literally choke at certain points in this game is completely nuts. This game is obscenely violent, and that’s a good thing. There’s nothing pretty about war – bad things happen, people die, loved ones are lost and in the end nobody really wins.

One of my favorite features? Alec Baldwin. That’s right, before engaging in any major mission, there is a voice over by Alec Baldwin. Now his misguided politics and wacky personal life aside, if there was ever imagery that could add weight to the Tom Clancy like universe of this game – it is Baldwin. I’ve always liked him as an actor, and am one of the few people who’d love to see him run along side Fred Thompson in ’08. The Hunt for Red November… hell, make Connery secretary of defense and I’d just about blow my political load before passing out in shock.  Ideology be damned!

The graphics? Absolutely insane. My computer running a 3200+ processor with a 256mb Geforce card and 2gb of RAM absolutely CHOKES at maximum resolution. I had to customize the medium settings to get it to run right. I wouldn’t try this game unless you’ve got a REAL good video card and system, as I think that’s my only saving grace at this point. I’m already pricing out a quad-core Intel system so I can hopefully run this thing one day at full resolution.

Frankly, the graphics could absolutely stink on this game and I’d still love it. The game play is rock solid – I haven’t been this into a real time strategy game since the very first Command & Conquer title hit store shelves nearly 10 years ago. The developers lay out a tapestry of destruction, a work of art (FUCK YOU EBERT) that is unrivaled in this genre, and a story that’d glue any gamer to the screen until the last battle is won.

Worth the $60, this game in my humble opinion – is perfection.

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