World in Conflict is a 2007 Real Time Tactics game by Massive Entertainment. Set during the closing days of the Cold War, the game explores what might have happened had the Warsaw Pact countries decided to start World War III instead of allowing the gradual collapse of its constituent governments. Best described as Red Dawn 1984meetsGround Control, the game eschews traditional RTS elements in favour of a more tactical approach: no base building occurs, units are air-dropped, and individual armies rarely number more than a dozen units.The single-player campaign takes place in 1989. The Soviet Union, bankrupt and desperate, launches a surprise attack across its European borders, surprising the rest of the world. The conquest is at first a success, but as the months go by NATO rallies, and it becomes clear that the Soviets are overstretched and out of momentum, causing the conflict to settle into a stalemate. In a massive gamble, the Soviet Union smuggles several battalions into Seattle harbour on freight ships, counting on the fact that most U.S. troops are tied up overseas. The story is told through the eyes of a subordinate to the legendary Colonel Sawyer, Lieutenant Parker, as Sawyer's battalion fights a desperate war to contain the red menace.World in Conflict is lauded for its multiplayer, which has the player assume a specific role in combat, commanding only a small, specialized force on the battlefield and working together with the other players to win. The matches are fast-paced and map types are strongly influenced by FPS games, with modes such as Dominationnote the teams try to hold more control points than their rivals for as long as possible or Assaultnote the two teams take turns defending or assaulting the control points. Since there are no resources to gather, the game is instead based around strategical control points that need to be captured.An Expansion Pack was released in 2009, titled Soviet Assault. The expansion added six new missions interwoven into the existing campaign that covered the Soviet side of the story, as well as four multiplayer maps which were later released for free. The expansion pack was not well-received, as it did not have any new gameplay features at all. The game was well-received both by critics and by consumers, with common praise being the then-impressive graphics, the compelling gameplay, the entertaining team-based multiplayer modes and a strong single-player campaign and narrative. Since the sale of Massive Entertainment to Ubisoft by then-publisher Activision the only thing to come out of the series has been the delayed and poorly-received Soviet Assault, and since Massive has since moved on to other projects, it is probably that World in Conflict has become an Orphaned Series.
This game features examples of the following tropes:
Alternate History: What if the Communist states of the 1980s tried to prevent their collapse by attacking the West?
Anachronic Order: The single-player campaign, which is told middle first, then beginning, then end. The Soviet missions are similarly paced, as they are interwoven into the vanilla campaign.
Arbitrary Headcount Limit: The player is given a fixed amount of points to buy units with, which limits the size of any given army. The points refill after a unit is lost or is disbanded, over time. In multiplayer, the most a player can command at once is 20 units (not counting the infantry squads consisting out of 4 soldiers), but generally no more than about 6 units will be deployed at the same time. Additional units can be deployed with airdrop Tactical Aids that don't count towards this limit.
Artificial Stupidity: The campaign AI, which is mostly scripted to Zerg Rush you. Averted with the multiplayer bots, however, who are programmed to emulate player behaviour much better.
Big Damn Heroes: In the Soviet campaign, the Colonel arrives seconds before American civilians are about to be executed in one of the cutscenes.
Bilingual Bonus: Many unit barks are made in a language appropriate to their nationality. This is most noticeable with the NATO faction, which does not include two different unit types from the same country. German, French, Danish, Russian, English, Norwegian are but some of the languages spoken in the game, and they are all recorded using native speakers.
Except the Germans.
Bolivian Army Ending: At the end of Soviet Assault, Malashenko decides not to return to Russia and instead makes his way to Seattle to defend it against the inevitable American counterattack. Players who have already completed the first game know that it won't end well for the Soviets.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The multiplayer AI, despite being well programmed, still cheats quite a bit. Enemy artillery can fire without needing to reload, can track your units extremely accurately, and the enemy will zero in on your drop zone eventually. This is particularly bad against the Soviets, as they have some very strong artillery. The AI doesn't respect the point system, either, and will replenish losses with the exact same units almost immediately.
Cosmetically Different Sides: All the factions have the same units with the same abilities. While the American heavy tank is the M1 Abrams and the Soviet counterpart is the T-80, they are statistically identical, and ditto for the rest of the units. The only real exceptions are that the U.S. and NATO heavy artillery fire large visible rocket barrages and takes a while to reload, while the Soviet equivalent fires shells continuously. The Soviet shells are difficult to spot and can be used to bomb enemy units while the U.S. and NATO rockets are easily seen and dodged (though heavy artillery on both sides is generally ineffective and its use is discouraged). Another difference is that the NATO armored transport fires armor-piercing shells as its offensive special ability rather than the anti-vehicle missile used by its U.S. and Soviet counterparts...which may or may not be an issue to the particular player using them.
Cosmetic Award: Singleplayer gives you a variety of medals, awards and promotions for completing every objective. Online has a achievement system with the same goals, but there are multiple medals for each category (bronze, silver and gold). Medals are awarded for things like reaching certain scores in one match, being the best player in a match or best of role, total points per role and total, winning matches and launching nukes. A medal system is also in place for clans. None of these awards actually do anything, although reaching a certain rank may be required for some servers or clans.
Covers Always Lie: The cover prominently features the Statue of Liberty under attack. While there is a mission in New York centered around a surprise attack on Liberty Island, most of the game takes place in Washington State.
The cover art for Soviet Assault shows New York City getting nuked, even though the only nuclear weapon used in both games was a single, relatively small scale tactical nuke.
Critical Existence Failure: While most infantry units are composed of Squads that may lose individual members, this applies in full force to any other unit on the field. Buildings' Hit Points also do not effect its integrity and protection for infantry until they run out.
Infantry are liable to die pretty much whenever they are out of cover to anything firing at them while being the slowest units in the game, though are enormously effective against what enemy the individual unit is made for fighting while they are dug in and the role is provided vehicle transports—though the transports are soft-skinned and are destroyed quickly while destroyed transports take the unit inside with it.
Armor has the slowest vehicles and is extremely vulnerable to air units, but firepower and hardiness gives it ground superiority.
Support is deficient at direct close-combat, but it provides the crucial anti-air units that prevent the rest of the team from being slaughtered by helicopters. Also has repair tanks and artillery, with the latter's usefulness being highly situational.
Air is highly mobile and highly destructive, but is vulnerable to anti-air (good air players can sometimes turn the tables against AA however). Also, air units cannot capture command points.
Deadly Gas: One of the Tactical Aid abilities is the Chemical Strike, which calls in a plane to drop gas bombs on a target. The effects aren't particularly graphic (infantry take damage over time), and it only affects infantry. However it doesn't see much use since there's usually cheaper Tactical Aid abilities for dealing with infantry in most situations.
Death from Above: Not all Tactical Aids spew death, but they all come from the air. They are all quite spectacular, however.
Destructive Saviour: Faithful to real life warfare, saving areas is a messy endeavour. When Webb comments on the state of Seattle, Sawyer admits that the U.S. Army caused as least as much damage as the Soviets. There are some objectives based around avoiding this trope for notable buildings, but the Nuke on Cascade Falls is this in full force. At least most buildings are implied to be deserted by civilians. Most missions end with "Victory!" being plastered over a scene of a town reduced to ruins.
Difficult, But Awesome: The Infantry multiplayer role. They have the slowest and squishiest units in the game, unless they've gotten to a good position providing cover—likely driven to it by their transports—at which point their cover fixes the squishiest part while it holds and the squad easily takes out anything nearby.
Divided We Fall: In multiplayer matches teamwork is everything, as every game mode is team based.
Easy Logistics: While reinforcements take some time to be dropped in (and there is another delay until the plane returns to the off-map base, during which you can't order any more units) and Tactical Aids take a while to occur, fielded units have unlimited ammo, fuel and other supplies. Infantry units can replace losses in a short amount of time. You will never run out of reinforcements aside from a few very scripted instances in the campaign.
More specifically, every single unit is air-dropped, regardless of the size of the unit. While this makes sense for some units, including light tanks designed for this, the M1 Abrams is heavy enough that dropping it would make it inoperable in real life. How the delicate-looking artillery pieces survive the landing is also a complete mystery.
On a strategic level, the game features massive amphibious invasions of the American West Coast and southern France. The first is pulled off, we are informed, by hiding Soviet troops in civilian freighters. The second goes unexplained. Neither makes any attempt to really explain how they intend to keep such a massive invasion over such a great distance supplied beyond the first few days.
Enemy Exchange Program: You can repair and take over vehicles left behind by the other side in certain missions; they apparently do not require crews. One mission features Soviet special forces using a ridiculously large amount of captured U.S. vehicles.
Captain Vance, an Army Ranger CO helping out in that mission, actually lampshades this, saying that the local base was undermanned and over-supplied.
Another mission has the player take over a lot of left-behind vehicles starting with nothing but 3 vehicles. Where the crews come from is a complete mystery.
A Father to His Men: Orlovsky, your superior officer in the Soviet campaign, is well-respected by his men, and cares deeply for them.
Feelies: The collectors edition included a small, authentic piece of the Berlin Wall.
Fog of War: As with Ground Control, and unlike most other games in the RTS genre, this game doesn't use visible fog of war, although it is still functionally there. In addition, units are not automatically revealed when they open fire if the enemy can't see them; in particular, artillery units need to have their shots traced by sight to determine the position of the units.
Fragile Speedster: The Air role's units are fast and do good damage - however, they are incapable of taking points and die quickly when targeted. Similarly, the Infantry role's transports are also fragile, although somewhat slower in comparison.
Gatling Good: The Americans have two units which use gatling-like weaponry: the M163 Vulcan, which is used primarily for Anti Airnote it can be toggled to fire on ground units if necessary, and it is effective against lightly armoured vehicles and below, and the A-10 Warthog, which is called in as an Anti-Tank Tactical Aid.
General Failure: Captain Bannon, through a combination of cowardice, glory-hounding and incompetence.
Glass Cannon: The Infantry role's units. Their weapons are as effective as any vehicle's against their intended targets, but without trees or buildings for cover, they tend to die when enemies look at them funny.
Heroic Mime: Player characters Parker and (in Soviet Assault) Romanov. They are never heard to speak in-game, Parker has a bodily presence in certain cutscenes but we never see his face, and Romanov is never seen at all. They are both clearly Russian and white American, though.
The intro to the final mission to retake Seattle reveals that the narrator of the U.S. missions (voiced by Alec Baldwin) is, in fact, Parker, though at that point it should be pretty obvious.
By the same token, it is implied that the 2nd narrator of the Soviet missions - the one talking about the realities of the war- is Romanov.
Heroic Sacrifice: The foolish and cowardly Captain Bannon redeems himself by volunteering for a holding action against an overwhelming Soviet force so that the tactical nuke intended for them can take proper effect.
Hold the Line: A frequent mission objective in the campaigns. Often, you will be tasked with taking a particular set of strategic points and holding them for a few minutes; after the timer is up, AI-controlled reinforcements will usually shift drop zones to cover the newly captured area, and bunkers will be set up.
Storywise, during the Invasion of Seattle, a panicked Private is heard on the radio screaming about how the Soviets won't get one inch further. Whether he succeeded or not is left open.
Impressive Pyrotechnics: The game includes fire support options ranging from mortar bombardment through napalm drops and carpet bombing by B-52s all the way to tactical nuclear strikes, all depicted with massive amounts of sound and fury.
Gets into Scenery Gorn if you've got Direct X 10 enabled, enhancing the fire and smoke effects. Smoke will even roll around foliage a little more realistically.
Instant-Win Condition: Since there are no bases, campaign missions usually have you fighting endlessly respawning enemy troops with your own army of respawning forces. After a while of not screwing this up, the game declares that you win, although the fight rages on behind the victory screen.
It's Raining Men: Infantry unit creations and reinforcements parachute down to the field. In fact, all land units are air-dropped in, included the heaviest tanks.
Jack Of All Trades: The purview of the Infantry role, whose infantry within its role are capable of fighting off all the other roles... as long as they can get to cover first. The role even includes the Troop Transport unit, which is one of the few units that can repair vehicles.
The Infantry squad exemplifies this, as the combined individual soldiers make the squad capable of attacking every unit in the game, as long as the required trooper isn't killed.
The Armored Transport of the Armor role is capable of damaging every unit in the game.
Just a Stupid Accent: Played with. NATO units are almost all from a different country, and this is reflected in their speech. Most responses to commands are given in a heavily exaggerated accent, likely to allow quick identification of units, but unit chatter is made in that unit's native language, and the voice actors are clearly native speakers. This applies to the Russian units as well; American units mostly have similar accents, however.
Kill It with Fire: There are numerous incendiary weapons in the game. In particular, using napalm and fire-bombs to burn down forest cover is important to countering infantry; one of the Soviet missions has you field testing a particularly strong such bomb.
Kinda Busy Here: Infantry units respond with this if you select them while they're engaged in combat.
Monumental Damage: Subverted - the Soviets destroy the Kingdome, a sports stadium that is only really recognizable by Seattleites, and was demolished seven years before the game was released. Meanwhile, the Space Needle, easily the most recognizable landmark in the city, survives intact.
The Statue of Liberty is also endangered at one point. If you fail to save it, there is a special cutscene before the gameover.
Played straight in multiplayer, where both the Space Needle and statue of Liberty are quite destroyable.
Of course, you get the chance to destroy tons of monuments on the side yourself (the main building on Ellis Island, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, etc.).
More Dakka: There's plenty of dakka to go around on both sides, but the true firepower comes from the Tactical Aids you can call onto the map. The Americans, for instance, can call an air to ground strafing run in a straight line wherever on the map they like, and an A-10 Warthog will happily oblige.
Multinational Team: The NATO side features Western European members (No Canada sadly). Done probably for balance as most of them as individual armies lack certain categories of units the game uses. (Only Britain and France have nukes, Britain lacks an amphibious APC, Only Italy has attack helicopters etc.)
Played fairly straight soon after the game begins with Colonel Sawyer, who will make any sacrifice—including American lives and infrastructure—to achieve victory for the United States.
My God, What Have I Done?: he doesn't say it but when Bannon kills a bunch of surrendering soldiers/Civlians accidentally, he does not take it well.
My Greatest Failure: Arguably what prompts the above sentiment for Colonel Sawyer, and unlike other examples it's not part of the backstory, but part of the plot. He sees having to use the tactical nuclear weapon at Cascade Falls to be his own horrific failure (over the objections of Captain Webb—see the Mission 12 introduction movie) and will do anything—even sacrifice American lives in high-casualty, head-on attacks—to stop another nuke from being used.
Noodle Incident: The game hints at a black mark on Sawyer's military career prior to the cutscene showing him being re-activated to command forces in Europe.
No Campaign for the Wicked: In the original single-player campaign, the Soviets are non-playable. Even in Soviet Assault, they get 6 missions, compared to 14 for the US-Nato alliance. Though it is an expansion.
No OSHA Compliance: Subverted. The opening cinematic when Soviet armored vehicles are shown being directed off their transports by safety-conscious personnel, wearing professional-looking ear protectors.
Poirot Speak: In the Soviet missions, characters will often speak a single phrase in Russian ("Govorit Lebedjev" = "Lebedjev speaking") before delivering the rest of their statement in English.
Police Are Useless: Justified, since the police forces of Seattle and Washington State are not meant to engage professional soldiers, armoured vehicles and attack helicopters. Debatably even averted, as they still manage to do their part, and are seen building and defending barricades with revolvers and otherwise helping during the evacuation.
Port Authority Officer:*dodging a gunship's minigun with his car* 11-99! Repeat, 11-99 emergency! They have gunships! I repeat, gunships! We need help immediately, America is under attack!
Rated M for Manly: The rest of the game isn't at all overtly this, but the opening cinematic when you open the game? Other games might have a basic backstory and a few lead-ups to the game's present, connected to some cool action shots. The opening cinematic for the game mostly consists a ridiculous amount of shoots that call consist of combat and shooting from various different sources.
Revenge Before Reason: Surprisingly averted with the already angry Malashenko, when he learns his wife was killed by NATO back home, swallows his considerable anger and continues. Subverted later as he orders his men to defend Seattle against the American counterattack when it is clear the very notion is completely hopeless, especially as the American missions attest this by ending it with you succeeding in this counterattack.
Right Man In The Wrong Place: At least for the Soviets. Parker and Bannon were in Seattle, either visiting family or getting reassigned for just being in the area when the Soviets attack.
RPG Elements: Like in other recent RTS, units gain experience and may "level up" 4 times. The effects of this are reduced ability and fire cooldowns aswell as increased sight and accuracy. However, defense isn't affected in any way.
Running Gag: Mike's CD player and the (missing) batteries for it. Mind you, it's 1989.
Separate, But Identical: While each faction uses vehicles that they used during the Cold War in real life, they pretty much function identically with the exception of special abilities. One notable exception is the Heavy Artillery unit. The U.S. and Nato use MLRS, while the Soviets use cannon artillery firing just a single powerful shell.
The Heavy Artillery differences are significant, however, as following the smoke trails of the MLRS can pinpoint it's location, even if you can't see it, whereas the cannon artillery is not nearly as vulnerable to counterbattery fire. In addition, there are minor differences between the various units depending on the faction: for the most part, the U.S. units are more heavily armored than the Soviet units, while the Soviet units are faster. The NATO units also have a slight benefit in speed. Functionally, however, two heavy tanks against two heavy tanks will result in a Pyrrhic victory for whoever wins, so it doesn't really matter that much.
Short Range Long Range Weapon: Partly averted with tanks which have an impressive range (for an RTS unit, anyway) provided a forward scout, but artillery units have a drastically shortened range compared to their real life counterparts, However, this is only true for on-map artillery pieces - artillery strikes ordered through the tactical aid menu can hit anywhere on the map.
Shown Their Work: For a developer based in Sweden, Massive Entertainment did a hell of a job depicting downtown Seattle circa 1989.
This troper lives near Seattle, and was down there a couple months ago. He went down to the docks and surrounding streets, and identified most of the roads, cranes, and buildings present in the first Seattle mission. In fact, there were few differences between the actual Seattle, and World in Conflict's Seattle.
Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke Devastating no doubt, but mostly a waste of tactical aid points and nowhere as powerful as a real-life nuke. In the single player mode, it's used only once; the player doesn't actually activate it as much as as activate a cutscene.
Nukes work well when your enemies are bunching up their forces too much over a large area, or if you want to make a part of the map difficult to occupy due to radiation poisoning.
Power of Friendship + There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Three nukes launched by a single player costs a lot less than three nukes launched by three (or two) players. This means that teams who are willing to let one player take a high score and pool points to that player for a triple nuke will get to inflict MASSIVE damage on the rival team.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: In Soviet Assault. Malashenko is the idealist, believing in most, if not all, of his country's propaganda. Lebedjev is the cynical one. Incidentally, their wives are on the same ends of the scale as them.
Parker, though this transpires earlier on, as each pre-mission narrative reveals his clear dismay at the reality of the situation, while recalling the sense of invincibility and confidence he had as an American, before the invasion.
Realistically, too! For instance, the effects of the BLU-82 "daisy cutter" bomb look pretty much the same as in real life◊.
In the last mission after you keep the Chinese from landing, and driving the Soviets away, you get full access to all the Tactical options and you don't have to worry about points..... Well, this part of Seattle needed to be renovated anyway.
Supporting Protagonist: Lieutenants Parker and Romanov may be keys to the military victories of their respective armies, but the story of the game ultimately revolves around the fall of Colonel Sawyer and Captains Bannon and Malashenko, and the redemption of the first two.
Those Two Guys: Corporals Mike and Anton of the Washington Army National Guard.
Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Played with for Bannon getting in trouble for shooting surrendering men and ignoring an assertion that something was off by one of his crewman. Orlovsky is enraged at the idea of Malashenko wanting to subvert this.
Potentially played straight by Bannon—the description of the men he opens fire, and the fact that the battle was happening outside a major population center, suggests that he fired not at surrendering soldiers, but Soviet civil defense workers.
Due to its setup, it averts many typical RTS tropes:
Death of a Thousand Cuts - subverted: Infantry may only harm tanks and other heavily-armoured vehicles if they have specific squad members that can attack them, while attacking from other vehicle unequipped to deal with tanks deal literally no damage to them. And the setup doesn't really lend itself to overwhelming enemies with massive numbers. Where you shoot a target is important too; a missile shot at a tank's rear will do a lot of damage, while a shot to the front has a high probability of simply bouncing off.
Real Time Strategy unit archetypes: The game lacks basic workers, has no on-map naval forces and the only directly controllable aircraft are helicopters. It also lacks dedicated siege units, though heavy artillery serves this in a pinch. Fixed-wing aircraft are available from the support menu, as well as, on one memorable occasion, the main guns of the U.S.S. Missouri.
Ridiculously Fast Construction: You never really construct anything other than fortifications, which are built faster the more units are in a certain area.
Tech Tree: All units and tactical aids are available from the start, although the nuke has a significant delay before it can be used.
Units Not To Scale: They are here. Infantry can be pretty difficult to spot as a result, which is especially unfortunate since you require certain infantry squad members alive to attack heavy and air vehicle threats.