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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 (1984) meets Ground Control, the game eschews traditional RTS elements in favor 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  or Assault.note  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 received mixed reviews, with many praising the Soviet campaign but noting the lack of new gameplay features. Since then, later copies of the game, physical and digital, are the "Complete Edition" which features both the base game and the expansion.

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:

  • Achievement System: In multiplayer, you gain medals and badges for various scoring points or winning matches, among other things. Medals and badges are tiered bronze, silver, and gold; the screen that displays them also explains (via tooltips) the requirements for unlocking them. You can also view players' medals in their public online profiles on the Massgate service website.
  • The Alliance: NATO (duh).
  • 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 is told middle first, then beginning, then end. The Soviet missions are similarly paced, as they are interwoven into the vanilla campaign.
  • An Asskicking Christmas: Played straight, and then painfully subverted. Parker and the rest of the U.S. forces successfully drive the Soviets out of the festively-decorated Cascade Falls, only for fresh new Soviet reinforcements to arrive, necessitating the use of a nuclear strike, and Captain Bannon stays behind to draw the Russians into ground zero. The entire ending cutscene is simply heartwrenching, and it it also bears mentioning that you must order the strike itself directly on Bannon's position.
  • 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 air-drop Tactical Aids that don't count towards this limit.
  • Artistic License – History: The game depicts China as a willing ally of the USSR in their invasion of the USA. This however fails to take into account the existence of the Sino-Soviet split in the 1960s, which led to China pursuing an independent foreign policy and rapprochement towards the US. Sino-Soviet relations remained hostile and only improved in the early 1990s, and even if the thaw happened earlier, it is unlikely that China would follow their old enemy into a global war, especially considering that up until the 2000s China lacked a blue water navy to cross the Pacific.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Heavy artillery units in multiplayer. They can lay down a lot of hurt and build up many tactical aid points, but are expensive, taking up many reinforcement points that could instead go towards anti-aircraft units that keep the rest of the team from being savaged by enemy helicopters.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • In the 3rd mission of the American campaign the battalion are defending the town of Pine Valley against a massive Soviet attack. When the Reds are beginning to overrun the Americans, the USS Missouri appears and starts annihilating the Soviets. You can then use its guns to finish off the rest of the enemy forces.
    • In the 3rd Soviet mission, Colonel Orlovsky arrives seconds before American civilians are about to be executed by Malashenko's men.
    • In the final mission in the American storyline, after a hard fight the battalion finally liberate Seattle, thus preventing the Chinese from making landfall there and, most importantly, prevent a strategic thermonuclear strike on said city. Everything looks good when suddenly a large Soviet force appears out of nowhere and starts outnumbering the US forces. And they have jammed the communications so you can't call for reinforcements (fortunately, only temporarily). Sawyer's battalion fight to the last man until eventually, Colonel Wilkins arrives with his tanks and starts kicking the Russians on the behind.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Many unit barks are made in a language appropriate to their nationality. This is most noticeable with the NATO faction, with its large diversity of nationalities for its unit types. German, French, Danish, Russian, English, and Norwegian are but some of the languages spoken in the game, and most are recorded using native speakers.
    • In-universe example with Colonel Sawyer responding to a Frenchman's underhanded insult in French.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • For the American Campaign: Despite your resounding victory over the Soviet invaders and the lightheartedness of the final scene, much of Seattle and Washington State are in ruins and World War III still rages in Europe and now in Asia, leaving the future uncertain.
    • For the Soviet Campaign: The Soviets fail to take America and an Axe-Crazy Malshenko kills Colonel Orlovsky. However, the sane Major Lebedjev orders a retreat back to the USSR where the Soviets are still in control of much of the union and Western Europe.
  • Blatant Lies / Propaganda Machine: Before each Soviet mission, a propaganda reel plays showing the Soviet leaders' attempts to portray their war effort as way more successful than it actually is, and hide anything from their citizens that might be considered bad. Some of them are quite amusing....
    • During the missions that take place in America, the Soviet propaganda shows them occupying half of the United States by the third mission, including the nearby sections of Canada and Mexico for added audacity. They also claim the American civilian population is welcoming the invasion as a liberation and are joining the Soviets. In reality they only control the area of Washington State near Seattle and Tacoma, with the furthest they ever get being the Cascade mountain range. And the American civilians are extremely hostile to the invaders, grabbing any gun or weapon they can get their hands on and fighting back. Romanov even says in the mission briefing that Soviet troops were surprised at the level of resistance, and that everywhere they went they were greeted with gunfire.
    • A reel for one of the European missions claims that a NATO raid on a major naval base in Russia was just a "minor skirmish"... that took place in occupied Finland.
    • Possibly subverted by the final mission in which the propaganda broadcaster speaks in what seems to be a more reserved tone, saying that the Soviet premier gave a speech about "sacrifices made, and sacrifices yet to come", implying that the Soviet government is starting to realize that they are not going to get the quick victory they were hoping for... if they even win at all.
    • Also during the final American mission to liberate Seattle from the Soviets, the player can find Soviet propaganda posters covering the city. Smaller posters can also be seen in the earlier Pine Valley mission by placing the camera in front of the town's billboards.
  • 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.
  • Book Ends: The original game begins and ends in Seattle. And the expansion pack begins and ends in Lebedjev's limousine.
  • Boring, but Practical: There is a wide variety of tactical aid available to pummel the enemy with; however, multiplayer conditions will often constrain practical options to just a few.
    • Anti-infantry options range from a mortar barrage to a napalm run to a chemical strike. The mortar ends up used most often thanks to its relatively wide area, quick deployment time, and cheap price.
  • Breaching the Wall: The Soviet campaign of World In Conflict: Soviet Assault starts with you demolishing a part of the Berlin Wall with precision artillery strikes, so Soviet tanks can squeeze through and mount an attack. This is mostly a symbolic action, however, since the Soviets also mount simultaneous attacks elsewhere along the Iron Curtain.
  • Break the Haughty: Captain Bannon, who's arrogance and careless tactics on the battlefield chafes Colonel Sawyer all throughout the campaign. And then he accidentally fires upon a group of surrendering Russian civilians, earning him the Colonel's wrath when they return home. And this is all before the Russians have even attacked Seattle.
  • Bullying a Dragon: The Soviets may have seized large parts of Washington State in a surprise attack, but it gradually becomes obvious that for all their guns and tenacity, seizing a country as large and as hostile as the US by conventional means is a fool's errand. Lampshaded by Colonel Orlovsky, who by the time the Americans have launched their offensive to liberate Seattle has given up on any notion of victory (thanks in no small part to the nuke used on Cascade Falls), even with the incoming Chinese armada. This is in stark contrast to the Soviet propaganda that insists that the Red Army has encroached half the country (including their neighbors Canada and Mexico), where in reality the Soviets are under constant fire from a rebelling populace and unable to expand their campaign beyond Washington.
  • Camera Abuse: Explosions and nuclear fallout will display static and other effects on the screen if they happen too close to the camera. In the campaign, after the tactical nuke is detonated halfway through the story, the entire next chronological mission is played with the static effect turned on.
  • Colonel Badass: Sawyer and his Soviet counterpart Orlovsky. Neither one is anything less than highly competent at what they do — albeit Orlovsky finds out all too quickly that the invasion is nowhere near as easy as he was told.
  • Common Tactical Gameplay Elements: WiC implements a lot of common Real-Time Strategy elements: Fog of War (with a caveat that you can see most of the terrain from the start — but not what's happening on it), Scouting (the Infantry role's hat, with their insane viewing range), Movement Modifiers (moving downhill is faster than up), High Ground (firing down increases the tanks' range), Unit Specialization, Attack Range, Flanking (relevant when fighting tanks: they are much more vulnerable from the sides and back than from the front), Friendly Fire (as heavy choppers and artillery, but particularly with Tactical Aids), Taking Cover (infantry hiding the woods and buildings is harder to hit), Indirect Fire (artillery), Blind Firing (via Bombard command), Target Spotting (infantry/paratroopers in combination with any heavier ground unit), Concealment (infantry is invisible in the woods if not attacking or seen by enemy infantry), Smoke Screen (most heavy ground units can protect themselves with smoke, while heavy artillery can deploy a much larger screen at a distance).
  • 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 most of the other units. There are a few units that differ here and there, but this is mostly with units that don't see much use on the battlefield.
  • 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 weapons seen on-screen during the story of either game is a single, relatively small scale tactical nuke. Also, said nuclear detonation takes place in the mountains of Washington State.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Soviet Assault credits: lots of photos/videos of development team during work or at their free time and various Hilarious Outtakes (like some funny glitches that can happen/happened during production and scenes created by authors just for fun). You can watch it here.
  • 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.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: All of the multiplayer roles are highly specialized in order to encourage team play:
    • 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 easily destroyed, with whatever was being transported being destroyed as well.
    • 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. Support also has repair tanks and artillery, with the latter's usefulness being highly situational.
    • Air is highly mobile and destructive, but the role is very vulnerable to anti-air, and air units can't capture control points.
  • Darkest Hour: USA missions 5 and 11. America has been forced to use a nuclear device on itself, and it is unclear what may happen next. On a more personal level: Bannon is dead and Sawyer's company is scattered; stranded in a charred, radioactive wasteland. Bannon's last phone call to his mother really drives in the mood. Only by pure, unshakable cooperation and determination is the company able to reform and fight again.
  • 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.
    • Additionally, the Spetsnaz commandos who invade New York City intend to use Liberty Island to launch a chemical attack over the city if the USA does not immediately withdraw from Europe. Luckily, Captain Parker's swift raid to retake the island prevents this attack from occurring.
  • Death from Above: Not all Tactical Aids spew death, but they all come from the air. They are all quite spectacular, however.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Averted; attacking an armoured vehicle with weapons that should be incapable of hurting it will do nothing. Most units have a way of hurting armour anyway, but the basic machine guns won't work.
  • Despair Gambit: The Soviet Union, bankrupt and on the verge of collapse, invades Europe and the United States in a desperate bid to save itself.
  • Destructive Saviour: Faithful to real life warfare, saving areas is a messy endeavor. 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 — which they likely need to use a fragile transport to reach — at which point their cover fixes the squishiest part while it holds and the squad easily takes out anything nearby.
    • The Air to Air Strike tactical aid is difficult to pull off, since helicopters are fast and quickly leave the target area. However, a successful one often means a total wipeout of enemy air support, enabling your team to push forward.
  • Divided We Fall: In multiplayer matches teamwork is everything, as every game mode is team based.
  • Eagleland:
    • Sabatier attempts to invoke the Boorish form on Sawyer in the Mission 9 intro. It backfires when Sawyer understands Sabatier's insult spoken in French and retorts in the same language.
      Sabatier: Vous arrogants Americains, vous pensez que vous dirigez le monde comme il vous plais.
      Sawyer: Nous avons une guerre à gagner et je vais faire ce qui me semble nécessaire.
    • Played straighter in the mission after that:
      Sawyer: Okay. Try not to damage the church, Parker. It's apparently very old and has some cultural value to our allies.
      Sabatier: It was built in the twelfth century! Vous n'avez donc aucune culture.
  • Easy Logistics: While reinforcements take some time to be air-dropped in (and there is another delay until the plane returns to the off-map base, during which the player 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. Reinforcements never run out aside from a few scripted instances in the campaign.
    • Also prevalent in the plot of the game, as the Soviets don't seem to have any trouble getting supplies, troops, and equipment across the vast Pacific Ocean. It happens again when they attack France, as they don't seem to have any issues having to funnel supplies across the Mediterranean.
  • Enemy Exchange Program: The player 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.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Malashenko, after his family is killed, just looks down upon the Americans with contempt. As a result, he expresses to Major Lebedjev that he cannot understand why the American civilians aren't joining with them when they're clearly superior. And when Colonel Orlovsky orders the men home after the devastating Cascade Falls incident, his My Country, Right or Wrong beliefs lead to him shooting his uncle, believing that the war can still be won no matter what might happen.
  • Face Death with Dignity: For all his cowardice early in the campaign, it is Captain Bannon of all people who voluntarily makes the ultimate sacrifice by keeping the Russians bottled up in Cascade Falls ahead of the nuclear strike on the town. Knowing full well he would not survive, he keeps the Russians busy long enough for the rest of the battalion to escape the strike zone.
    • Colonel Orlovsky as well, when he is held at gunpoint by his own nephew for ordering his men to evacuate from Seattle. Even as Malashenko rants at him for abandoning the campaign, Orlovsky stands firm and accepts that their mission was doomed from the start, and that to continue fighting would only mean more senseless slaughter before he is finally shot dead for his troubles.
  • A Father to His Men: Orlovsky is well-respected by his men, and cares deeply for them. Malashenko has these tendencies too, but they are also the catalyst for his Start of Darkness.
  • 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.
  • Foreshadowing: Sabatier's lover dreamt that he was killed, which is what happened in the next mission.
  • 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.
  • Game Lobby: There's a lobby for clan matches, as opposed to free-for-all servers that can be joined by anyone at any time.
  • Garrisonable Structures: Riflemen and Anti-Tank squads become formidable against vehicles when garrisoned, but do keep an eye on the structural integrity of the building.
  • Gatling Good: The Americans have two units which use gatling-like weaponry: the M163 Vulcan, which is used primarily for Anti-Airnote , 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. And that's assuming they're being fired at normally; heavier units can literally run right over them, instantly killing any members in the way, for all sides involved.
  • Glory Hound: Colonel Sawyer accuses Captain Bannon of being one, noting his eagerness for battle and his bad habit of questioning his superiors' orders constantly. Captain Malashenko on the Soviet side is a much more straightforward example, driven by his zealous belief in Soviet supremacy.
  • Heroic Mime: Player characters Parker and (in Soviet Assault) Romanov 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, respectively, white American and Slavic, 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: At the climax of the first arc of the story, 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.
  • Hesitant Sacrifice: Downplayed but Captain Bannon's gunner admits that he's scared when they're sacrificing themselves to make sure the Soviet Forces are in position for the Tactical nuke to go off.
  • Hold the Line: A frequent mission objective in the campaigns. Often, the player 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.
  • Home Guard: Most of the campaign has you commanding units of the Washington and Oregon National Guard.
  • Humiliation Conga: For the Soviets, NATO's incursion into the north near Murmansk definitely qualifies; while the Politburo passes it off as a "minor skirmish", it is clear that the Soviet Army is both furious and shaken that such a devastating infiltration had been managed by their opponents before they were finally able to drive them out.
  • Inferred Holocaust: If you fail to retake Seattle before the nuclear attack is launched, it is implied that this is what befalls the world as the Soviets also resort to nuclear weapons in response to the Americans having resorted to them twice in repelling the invasion.
  • 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.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Mostly played straight onscreen; however, the occasional presence of children amid such scenes of open war, particularly in one cutscene where a little girl stops her bike and watches the Soviet paratroopers rain down from the sky are sobering reminders that yes, children are not free from the horrors of war. Those who live to tell of what they see inevitably lose all childhood innocence.
    • Subverted in Soviet Assault, where Malashenko's wife and newborn daughter are both killed offscreen during the NATO raid on Northern Russia.
  • Invaded States of America: The basic premise of the story; the game starts when Soviet troops manage to launch a surprise attack by using freight ships to get close to Seattle harbour without arousing suspicion until it is too late, and then start to make their way inland. This invasion occurs to the backdrop of World War III; the setting is explored later in the campaign.
  • 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 Only Works Once: The Soviets are so shocked at the Americans nuking their own country to stop their invasion that it's allowed to pass. However, should it happen again to Seattle in the finale (via the player losing the mission), this time the Soviets start retaliating with their own arsenal...leading to thermonuclear war.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: If you fail the last mission in the vanilla game, the Pentagon will authorize a nuke to destroy Seattle to prevent the Chinese invasion. That's not the trope, though. The Soviets will see the Americans' willingness to use nukes, so they'll launch a nuclear strike of their own. The rest is history.
  • 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 unique infantry units are capable of fighting off all the other roles... as long as they can get to cover first. The role also includes the Troop Transport unit, which is one of the few units that can repair vehicles.
    • The Infantry squad is incredibly versatile, as the combined arms of the individual soldiers make the squad capable of attacking every unit in the game, as long as the soldier carrying that particular piece of equipment isn't killed.
    • The Armored Transport of the Armor role is capable of damaging every unit in the game.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: After hearing of the US government's willing to use another nuclear warhead on Seattle if the city isn't liberated by the time the Chinese reinforcement fleet arrives, Colonel Sawyer starts pushing his battalion forward extremely quickly. Despite the heavy casualties this causes, he doesn't deviate from his recklessly aggressive stance even when Webb challenges him on it, insisting that he will not accept another Cascade Falls. Considering that, should you lose the final mission, the nuking of Seattle prompts the Soviets to start unleashing their nuclear arsenal in response to the Americans' willingness to use theirs, destroying all life on Earth in global thermonuclear war, Sawyer's aggression and desperation to retake Seattle in time is very well justified.
  • 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.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Colonel Orlovsky, when he announces to Captain Malashenko that he intends to abort the campaign in America as he knew they could never hope to truly conquer the country.
  • 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.
  • Knight Templar: Capt. Malashenko in the Expansion Pack. He does have a convincing reason, though: his wife and baby daughter are killed during Sawyer's surprise raid near Murmansk.
  • Leaked Experience: If units from any player on a team are standing on a control point when it's captured, all participating players receive the full amount of awarded Tactical Aid points. At least minimal "teamwork" of this type is encouraged when capturing, to dramatically increase the team's total TA pool.
  • Maintain the Lie: The Soviets don't know that the Strategic Defense Initiative was a sham, while the US forces do. If the Soviets find out that the SDI is fake after capturing its headquarters at Fort Teller, it is feared that they will be able to have the upper hand if World War 3 goes nuclear. To prevent this, the US goes as far as nuking USSR forces in order to prevent Fort Teller from falling and its paper tiger from being divulged.
  • Majorly Awesome: The Player Character in the end. Going from 1st Lieutenant to Captain in a few months is unheard of and would never happen in real life.... except for the man who saved the Statue of Liberty, held the line in the Cascade Mountains, and finally pushed the Soviets out of Seattle.
  • Mauve Shirt: A CGI scene shows many American soldiers in transport helicopters gearing up and readying themselves to fight. A bunch of those choppers then get shredded by anti-air guns.
    • Those Two Guys whose B-Plot is about the (then) new CD player and how they can't get batteries for it in warzones. The final scene is the two of them finally listening to it in liberated Seattle.
  • Meaningful Background Event: During the opening cutscene for the Pine Valley mission, you can sometimes see a strange glint coming from the top of a nearby factory's chimney. It's from the scope of the Soviet sniper who kills Sawyer's radioman near the end of the scene, and who you are asked to kill at the beginning of the mission.
  • The Medic: The Repair Tank, being one of the few units capable of repairing but is completely unarmed. However, it is still in the body of a tank and is fairly hardy. The Humvee also counts.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Your units get several seconds of invincibility when they first spawn. Most noticeable if you get hit by a nuke the moment your units arrive and they all miraculously survive.
  • Mission Control: You always have a commanding officer who pops in to give you mission updates and assign new objectives. Usually it's Colonels Sawyer or Orlovsky, but Captains Bannon and Malashenko and Majors Lebedjev and Webb also do so on occasion.
  • Monumental Damage: The various multiplayer and single player maps feature numerous recognizable landmarks; all of them can be destroyed in the former, but only some in the latter, due to the way each mission is scripted:
    • Subverted in Seattle — 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.
    • The Statue of Liberty is endangered in one mission. If the player fails to save it, there is a special cutscene before the Game Over.
  • 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 faction is an amalgam of units from different Western European countries.
    • France: infantry, medium and transport helicopters, transport trucks, air strikes involving the Mirage 2000, and airlifts involving the C.160 Transall.
    • Germany: Heavy tanks, heavy artillery, anti-aircraft vehicles, scout helicopters, amphibious transports, and air strikes involving the Tornado IDS.
    • United Kingdom: Medium tanks, light tanks, medium artillery, repair vehicles, armored transports, air strikes involving the Harrier GR.3, and airlifts by Chinook helicopter.
    • Italy provides heavy attack helicopters, and Denmark provides troop transports.
  • Multiplayer Difficulty Spike: Zig-Zagged; by pitting teams of players against each other, it both gives them access to all the destructive potential only glimpsed in the campaign, and enforces Crippling Overspecialization mostly absent from the single-player.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Subverted in Soviet Assault; Orlovsky doesn't seem to like invading the United States. In the vanilla campaign, Colonel Sawyer is a mixed example, as while he understands that sometimes sacrifices have to made, he normally would choose civilian lives over other things. However, after Cascade Falls is nuked, he becomes noticeably more 'determined' to achieve victory before another one is used, no matter the cost. See My Greatest Failure below for more.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: It's clear that when Bannon kills a bunch of surrendering soldiers — or possibly civilians — accidentally, he does not take it well.
  • My Greatest Failure: Colonel Sawyer, yet 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.
    Webb: "But we didn't fail at Cascade Falls, sir."
    Sawyer: "When I'm forced to sacrifice a company of my own men and drop a nuclear weapon on my own country I'll call it a goddamn failure. I won't let it happen again."
  • The Neidermeyer: Bannon is this to an exceptional degree. Whiny, impulsive, entitled, foolhardy, incompetent, cowardly, resentful towards Parker being hand-picked and constantly insubordinate and questioning to Colonel Sawyer who openly despises him, especially when Bannon ends up killing surrendering soldiers and civilians in Murmansk. Subverted when when Bannon mid-game seems to shape up and volunteers to lure the Soviets in into the target for a tactical nuclear strike that finally gains him Sawyer's respect.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: One trailer for the game depicts Washington, D.C. being nuked by Soviet agents just as they are being intercepted by the US Air Force; no such event is seen or referenced in the game itself, but definitely serves a heavy dose of Nightmare Fuel.
    • In the "Looking For Survivors" trailer as a US tank crew surveys the destruction of Pine Valley, one of them remarks "we're seeing the same thing all over the West Coast"; all the U.S. missions take place in Washington State; additionally, Pine Valley was not actually nuked either as depicted in the trailer.
  • 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. In Soviet Assault, however, they get 6 missions, interwoven into the 14-mission NATO and U.S. campaign.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Subverted. The opening cinematic when Soviet armoured vehicles are shown being directed off their transports by safety-conscious personnel, wearing professional-looking ear protectors.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Soviets when they learn the US dropped a nuke on their own soil to halt the Soviet advance. Their morale instantly hits rock bottom when they realize they have no way of winning against an opponent willing to use nuclear weapons on its own territory to stop them.
  • Padded Sumo Gameplay: A couple exceptions to the Rocket-Tag Gameplay situation that generally predominates. Heavy tanks have a hard time killing other heavy tanks, likewise infantry aren't very deadly against enemy infantry (with the exception of snipers). Heavy air also does not have much to fear from enemy heavy air.
  • Phallic Weapon: Watson makes a joke implying this during the Tactical Aid tutorial.
    "Today, I will teach you about the most powerful weapon an officer has in his arsenal." <beat> ", I'm not talking about what's between your legs, sir. I'm talking about the radio. With the radio, you can call in Tactical Aids. They encompass everything from reconnaissance flights to artillery barrages and air strikes, and they'll provide you a real advantage in a tight spot."
  • Poirot Speak: When playing as NATO or USSR, units will often speak a single phrase in their native language before delivering the rest of their statement in English.
  • Poison Is Evil: The poison gas tactical aid is completely absent for player use in the story campaign for all 3 factions, despite the use of other controversial deadly munition types, including white phosphorus, napalm, and cluster bombs, all the way up to nukes. The only time chemical weapons are brought up is when the Spetsnaz intend to use the Statue of Liberty as a launch site, which never happens due to both victory and defeat in that objective resulting from the destruction of the Spetsnaz and their weapons.
  • 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. Arguably 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! note  Repeat, 11-99 emergency! They have gunships! I repeat, gunships! We need help immediately, America is under attack!
  • The Political Officer: KGB Major Lebedjev in Soviet Assault. He comments on the deep faith Captain Malashenko has in the Soviet system.
  • Rated M for Manly: The opening cinematic. 30 seconds of gunfire, charges and armored vehicles.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Colonel Orlovsky and Major Lebedjev are this in sharp contrast to the overzealous Malashenko, and it is clear that neither man truly believes that victory is achievable in their ground invasion of America. When it becomes clear that the invasion cannot hold, Orlovsky initiates a withdrawal for which he is killed by Malashenko. Major Lebedjev allows Malashenko to proceed as he wishes, but withdraws the rest of his troops instead of committing them to a futile defense.
    • Colonel Sawyer is also this, as is Captain Webb who Sawyer personally handpicks to assume command from the reckless Captain Bannon, who surprisingly becomes a much more able commander when faced with enormous stakes of the Russian invasion. Lieutenant Parker also appears to be this, winning a well-deserved promotion to Captain despite his short time in command.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Bannon chooses stay behind at Cascade Falls to lure the Russians into the blast radius of the nuke.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Subverted with the already angry Malashenko, who, when he learns his wife was killed by NATO back home, swallows his considerable anger and continues. Double Subverted later as he orders his men to defend Seattle against the American counterattack when it's clear the very notion is completely hopeless, especially since the player knows that the Americans are planning to nuke Seattle if they can't take it back.
  • Right Man in the Wrong Place: At least for the Soviets. Parker and Bannon were in Seattle, respectively visiting family and getting reassigned, when the Soviets attack.
  • Rocket-Tag Gameplay: Applies to much of the gameplay, where most units will die very quickly in combat with the enemy or to tactical aid.
  • RPG Elements: Units gain experience and may rank up 4 times. Promoted units have faster cooldowns for their weapons and special abilities, as well as increased sight and accuracy. However, defense isn't affected in any way.
  • Running Gag: Mike has a state-of-the-art portable CD player (it's 1989), but can't find any batteries for it.
  • Sadistic Choice: The President finds himself facing this when it becomes clear that the Chinese intend to reinforce the Soviet beachhead in Seattle with a massive naval armada. If he withdraws troops from Western Europe to liberate Seattle, NATO will almost certainly collapse in a campaign that has been fought to a bloody stalemate. His other option is to launch a massive nuclear strike on Seattle in the hopes of wiping out the Soviets and their Chinese allies to prevent a wider invasion of the country. His ultimate choice? Rally every surviving unit on the West Coast to retake the city, opting for the nuclear strike if they should fail.
  • Scenery Porn: Odds are you will find yourself admiring the lifelike scenery of every battlefield landscape even as you are laying waste to your opponents; the real-life locales in particular are rendered to stay as true to the real deals as much as possible; as such many prominent landmarks such as the Space Needle, the Brandenburg Gate, the Statue of Liberty, among others are shown in all their splendor.
    • Also doubles as Scenery Gorn; most of the towns you fight in will be reduced to a wasteland of blackened craters and leveled city blocks before the carnage is over.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Major Lebedjev's father-in-law is apparently a very important man (the Minister of Defense in fact), and Lebedjev doesn't hesitate to use that connection to browbeat those around him. In the end of the Soviet campaign, he uses it to make sure the battered remnants of Orlovsky's force get home.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Captain Malashenko, who opts to fight down to his last mag in Seattle rather than retreat when the Americans launch their counterattack on the city. Knowing the ultimate outcome of that battle, one can assume it didn't end well for him.
  • Separate, but Identical: While each faction uses vehicles that they used during the Cold War in real life, they pretty much function identically to their counterparts on the other side. 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 (yet it has a faster reload time than the Western counterparts).
    • The Heavy Artillery differences are significant however, as following the smoke trails of the MLRS tips you off to its general location, whereas the cannon artillery is not nearly as vulnerable. 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.
  • Sequel Hook: The battle for Seattle has been won and the Soviet invasion of America repulsed, but the war still rages across Western Europe and Asia, and Colonel Sawyer notes that the time may come again where Parker will be called forth to take the battle to the enemy.
  • Shared Life-Meter: An infantry unit has a single life bar, but the health of each individual soldier is tracked separately. This is clearly demonstrated by 100% accurate attacks with no splash damage only killing one soldier at a time (such as a sniper or a heavy tank's HEAT shells). Medics can heal only living infantry, and replacements can be airdropped in to replace casualties.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: One of the multiplayer maps is set around the Mekong river. The map's name? "Apocalypse".
    • Captain Bannon is named after the rather more stable and competent protagonist of Team Yankee.
  • Shown Their Work: For a developer based in Sweden, Massive Entertainment did a hell of a job depicting downtown Seattle circa 1989.
  • Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: The nuke in multiplayer deals heavy damage and can be used for zone control thanks to the radiation, but it affects a relatively small area, and its huge cost makes it a highly situational tool.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: In Soviet Assault, Malashenko is the idealist, believing in most, if not all, of his country's propaganda, while Lebedjev is the cynical one. Incidentally, their wives are on the same ends of the scale as them.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: There are a lot of explosions in the game. Most of the support powers involve explosions of some kind, and it is not uncommon for the battlefield to be turned into a carpet of flashes and smoke when things heat up.
  • Smart Bomb: The expensive Heavy Air Support tactical aid functions as a slower version of this; targeting and destroying only enemy units in its wide area over 3 attack waves.
  • Storming the Beaches: Everywhere.
    • At the start of the game, the Soviets launch a surprise invasion of the United States by loading up their troops on disguised cargo ships and sneaking them into Washington State, past the U.S. Navy. They quickly overrun Seattle and Tacoma and spread out inland as the Americans, who have most of their troops in Europe, struggle to stop them.
    • During the flashback missions that showcase the fighting in Europe before the Seattle invasion, the Soviets had destroyed much of the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea, then followed up on it by staging an amphibious invasion of southern France in an attempt to open a second front as they had been stalemated in West Germany.
    • One Soviet mission features a raid on a Norwegian air defense station. To get to it the Soviets must land the troops on a cold, snow-covered Norwegian beach in the most unique way. They use massive Ekranoplanes (basically huge seaplanes, which they in fact had prototypes of in Real Life). The planes land in the water then race towards the beach at high speed while firing rockets to weaken the Norwegian defenses. The planes' cockpits then slide open and unleash the Soviet strike force.
    • The mission in New York City features Spetsnaz commandos taking over Liberty, Ellis, and Governor's Islands and capturing some U.S. vehicles, including amphibious transports which they use to send reinforcements to Ellis when the Americans move in to rescue the hostages. The U.S. Army Rangers have to stage amphibious assaults of their own to retake the islands.
    • Just before the U.S. launches the operation to liberate Seattle, they send troops to retake a group of Islands in the Puget Sound. The objective is to capture Soviet anti-ship missile batteries for use against the Chinese invasion fleet that's heading to Seattle to reinforce the Soviets.
    • Then an aversion becomes a plot point; the Chinese have a very impressive war machine on the move, but little or no amphibious landing gear, meaning that as long as the Americans can retake Seattle Harbor before the Chinese land, they will have to turn back. Of course, if the Americans fail and the Chinese and Soviets link up, the war is over and America doomed.
  • Strategic Asset Capture Mechanic: All multiplayer modes revolve around controlling a set of strategic check points around the map, with the only difference between modes being the degree of freedom to choose which point to capture next. Since the game is more of real-time tactics than strategy, the check points don't grant any particular resources, but capturing and controlling them continuously adds to the controlling team's score, bringing them closer to victory.
  • 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 and redemption of Colonel Sawyer and Captains Bannon and Malashenko.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: This is the essence of the multiplayer roles. Air>Armor>Support>Air with Infantry existing as a kind of Jack of All Trades/contextually useful role on the side of the algorithm.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: Subverted. Parker claims that later historians called the retreat from Seattle "organized", but at the time no-one was really sure whether they were obeying orders or just moving in the same direction because it seemed like the best thing to do.
  • Take Cover!: Infantry can do this in sufficiently dense woods, or garrison buildings.
  • Tanks, but No Tanks: APC edition. The US M2 Bradley, NATO Warrior and Soviet BMP-2 are classified as APCs in game. In reality they are infantry fighting vehicles, distinguished from armoured personnel carriers by their heavier armament and focus in infantry support rather than transport.
    • The Spahpanzer Luchs is indeed an amphibious combat vehicle in real life, but it cannot carry a squad of infantry like the in-game one can.
  • Tattered Flag: In the multiplayer, there's a subtle example in the two flags shown at the top of the screen among other important match info. The flags start pristine and become increasingly tattered as units are lost. Since reinforcements are infinite and objectives are what counts, it's possible for the flag in worse shape to end up winning the match.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Captain Bannon definitely fits the bill as the fighting shifts away from Europe to the United States; after having been disgraced for his conduct in France and Russia, Bannon gradually becomes a more focused and braver officer as he sees what's at stake if the Soviet campaign in Washington succeeds. And that's to say nothing of his actions in Cascade Falls...
  • Turbulent Priest: At the beginning of the final mission, African-American gospel preacher Reverend Powell gives a rousing call to faith and prayer for the American forces to win and drive the Russians out of Seattle.
  • Units Not to Scale: Averted; every unit is properly scaled in relation to the rest of the game area, which means infantry can be pretty difficult to spot without their overhead UI icon, for good and ill.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian:
    • During the flashback in northern Russia, Bannon fails to listen to one of his crew and opens fire on surrendering soldiers and/or civilians. Once he finds out what he has done, all the hot air immediately goes out of him, and the event serves to explain everything about him as seen after that point in the timeline.
    • Orlovsky is enraged at the idea of Malashenko wanting to shoot the Americans conducting guerrilla warfare against the Russians, as the former feels they are still civilians.
  • You Are in Command Now: Happens to Bannon in the open cinematic of the first mission when he is drivinga Humvee through the increasingly debris filled streets of Seattle while on the radio.
    Bannon: This is Captain Bannon! I'm trying to reach the Major! [...] What!? Well who's in command then? [...] What do you mean "I Am"?!
  • War Comes Home: As told by the Tag Line. The protagonist perspective is American, and most of the campaign concerns him fighting against a Soviet invasion on American soil, in his home state of Washington.
  • War Is Hell: Played well, as said by the narrators in both Soviet and American sides.
  • Wham Line: During the fight at Cascade Falls, Colonel Sawyer's plan to break the Soviet attack has worked like a charm and the American forces are winning the battle. It is only a matter of time before they break off their attack, when Colonel Sawyer suddenly breaks some bad news:
    Sawyer: "This is Eagle Six. I have grave news. Our scouts report that Ivan is moving at least three fresh armoured battalions into the area. We cannot hold against that many."
    Bannon: "But we can't fall back! We'll lose everything!"
    Sawyer: "You're right, captain. I've been authorised to call in a tactical nuclear strike on the Soviet formations."
  • Winter Warfare: A good chunk of the campaign missions take place in wintry conditions. There is a lot of snow and cold in the Cascades missions, to the point that at one moment the U.S. military has to limit the aircraft flying in. Then you have the missions that take place in northern Russia and Norway.
  • Zerg Rush: The computer will be trying to do this all the time. All the time. Use your artillery and tactical aid constantly.


Video Example(s):


World in Conflict

In an alternate Cold War scenario, the Soviet Union kickstarts World War III in order to save itself from collapsing, first by invading Europe, then by launching a surprise attack on U.S. soil.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / DirtyCommunists

Media sources: