The most imaginative RTS (Real Time Strategy) game since last year's Company of Heroes, World in Conflict arrives with one hell of a bang, offering up some of the most explosive real-time experiences we've ever seen.

World in Conflict's main campaign relies on a what-if scenario, where the Soviet Union, facing the stark reality of its crumbling regime, decides to go to war against the NATO. The conflict eventually escalates into a fully fledged war that rages throughout Europe and the US itself. Alternate history setups aren't new, but WIC does it well. The single-player campaign is highly enjoyable, with excellent mission variety and depth. It helps that the gameplay is also innovative and well designed.

Rather than making you spend time setting up a base, you’re simply assigned a number of reinforcement points with which to purchase World in Conflict battle units. When units are destroyed, their point cost is slowly returned to the player, creating a simple yet effective way of reducing the build-seek-destroy tedium that other games in the genre suffer from. And because each player commands a small force (typically around a dozen units), you have to think strategically rather than simply throwing an unlimited stream of units at the enemy.

You can make use of support troops, bringing in a variety of explosives, from tank busting A-10 strikes all the way up to immense B-52 carpet bombings and nuclear weapons. This support becomes critical very quickly, but at times the sheer amount of support that can be called in in World in Conflict becomes almost comical.

But the use of so many high-explosive rounds does help World in Conflict cement its position as the best-looking RTS realised thus far. Artillery rounds demolish buildings wholesale and high-rise buildings collapse in on themselves in a cloud of dust. Individual units are likewise impressively animated as they zip around the battlefield kicking up dirt and leaving tracks in their wake.

You also get a cunning multiplayer version of World in Conflict, where the players select a role (infantry, armour, air or support). Take on the role of armour, for instance, and you’ll get your tanks cheap, but you’ll find it more expensive to acquire units from the other branches. This makes co-operation that bit more important than is typical for multiplayer titles, and acts as a nice complement to the excellent single player game.

World in Conflict: Specs

  • 2.2GHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon processor
  • 512MB of RAM (1GB for Vista)
  • 8GB of hard disk space
  • Windows XP/Vista
  • 128MB Graphics Card
  • 2.2GHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon processor
  • 512MB of RAM (1GB for Vista)
  • 8GB of hard disk space
  • Windows XP/Vista
  • 128MB Graphics Card

OUR VERDICT

World In Conflict features some of the most innovative ideas in the genre and combines it seamlessly with engaging and thrilling gameplay. It's a definite winner and is my front runner for RTS game of the year.

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