Support, meanwhile, is arguably the game’s biggest attraction over rival RTS games. As with reinforcements, you can earn points that can be spent on calling in artillery or air support, enabling you to do precision airstrikes on fortified enemy positions, batter large numbers of enemy tanks as they approach, or even set off a localised nuclear attack. Like artillery bombardments? Like Napalm? Like awesome destructive spectacle on a frankly ludicrous scale? Well, it’s pretty safe to say that you’ll like this.
What all this means is that World in Conflict is a game of high-speed attacks and lightning-fast responses, with you switching rapidly between the support and reinforcement menus while trying to keep all your different forces moving towards their carefully appointed targets at the same time. Playing it is an exercise in what my old driving instructor would have called “the definition of coordination.” What makes it challenging isn’t the complexity of your tasks – it’s hard to think of a recent RTS with a more stripped-back style and interface – but the breakneck pace at which you’re expected to achieve them. While your own troops are smart, the enemy AI is even smarter. They probe defences, outflank, sneak around and generally make your life a misery. They even have the sense not to stick around when you call in an artillery barrage then an air-strike. If you can’t stay on the ball you might scrape through your missions, but you’re going to find it hard going in places.
And this is where World in Conflict gets really interesting: it hasn’t just borrowed game dynamics from Call of Duty 2 and Battlefield 2 – it has also borrowed their atmosphere. Combine explosive confrontations going on everywhere you look on the battlefield with the boom and thunder of heavy weapons and the constant radio chatter between your CO and your fellow commanders, and you have the same feeling of chaos and carnage that the best military FPS games can achieve. The question is, when put under pressure, can you keep your head and remember your role? If so, the pace and the direct emphasis on small-scale troop command makes this one of the most thrilling RTS games in existence.
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