World in Action

If the interaction and the little touches help set World in Conflict apart, it's arguably the graphics that escalate it to a whole new level. With full support for DirectX 10 and Windows Vista, WiC is perhaps the best looking RTS on the planet. Water effects are spectacular, post-processing adds some awesome film-style effects to the game, whilst the HDR lighting helps to make this a joy to look at.

The engine itself renders minute detail, and Massive is keen to tell players that the game will look almost like a first person shooter up close. Sure, you might spend much of your time in a God-like view over the battlefield, but when you zoom right in, the game is going to look like you could walk down the street and expect to find a health pack and ammo drop.

The level of detail in the texturing is incredible, and it just means that the game looks great at whatever zoom level you're playing. Like Supreme Commander, there's a 'pull back so far you're looking at a tactical map' view, which makes things easier, but no word yet on whether split-screen or dual monitor gameplay is on offer there, since we only got to play on a single monitor.

It's hard not to be impressed by the way the game looks, although the build we played still clearly had a way to go. With DirectX 10 the game has massive potential, and the attention to detail that Massive is putting into the game bodes well. But we want to see things just cleaned up a little before the game hits the shelves, which we're sure it will be. Thankfully, the art direction is going in the right, well, direction, so this is a good thing.

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World in 80 Days

So the graphics are new and ambitious, but that's nothing compared to what the development team is trying to do with the gameplay. Trying to bring accessibility to the RTS genre is a big task -- the 'standard' interface and game mechanics have been basically untouched for years now, and doing something new can be very dangerous. Relic managed it over its last few games, introducing the idea of Capture points as the basis for your resources, rather than mining or collecting, so it seems like Massive has been emboldened to really try something new. Obviously there are some heavy hitters who are confident that the team has gotten it right -- Microsoft is heavily pushing the game as a Vista showcase, whilst Vivendi is betting a lot on its success, given the success that rivals THQ have had lately. So what is so novel?

Well, base building and unit building are slightly different. There is gameplay where some amount of building is required, but most missions operate with an air-drop system. At the beginning of a map, you are assigned a certain 'budget', in credits. You can use those credits to select units to deploy, and these are then air-dropped in at a location of your choice. You can than assemble your army and move out. Gameplay, then, is much quicker out of the door, with less building and planning and more getting in and fighting.

The other thing you'll notice in single player is that the team has taken a great deal of inspiration from titles like Call of Duty. Talking us through the game, the designers tell us that they were impressed with the way that Call of Duty made you feel like you were really part of something bigger -- that you were just a cog in the overall war effort, with missions going on around you, and team mates acting according to their own thoughts.

This is something that is replicated in WiC. In many maps, your efforts are part of a coordinated campaign. There are three other American commanders that you'll be working with, and they will often be operating on the same map, performing different missions that will complement and link up with yours. Sometimes they'll ask for your help, and opting to run to their rescue might net you some bonuses in certain situations. It's sort of like playing tactical multiplayer but in single player.
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