|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Massive Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Mar. 10, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-16||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
What if things had been different? Its a question that can be easily be applied to everything from monumental scientific discoveries to fleeting personal relationships. While second-guessing important real-life decisions can be an agonizing form of self-punishment, concocting wild, could-have-been scenarios is more of a tool than a neurosis in the world of video games. Asking what if has led to the creation of some of the most intriguing game concepts and situations imaginable. World in Conflict and the newly-released Soviet Assault expansion pack are great examples.
In 2007, Massive Entertainment dropped one hell of a bomb on war game enthusiasts with World in Conflict, a brilliantly designed real-time strategy title packed with killer gameplay, amazing visuals, and a gripping 1989 alternate reality World War III storyline centering around a Soviet invasion on U.S. soil. A year and a half later, the original game still holds up immaculately, and a new six-mission expansion pack now lets us become immersed in this fictional conflict from an entirely new perspective. There are many reasons why new and returning players alike will simply love World in Conflict: Soviet Assault, but a $20 price point isnt one of them.
Imagine if the Cold War hadnt died down in the late eighties but instead escalated into a third catastrophic World War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union one that found the Soviet forces mounting a last-ditch invasion of Seattle, WA and the American west coast in 1989. World in Conflict explores this fictional war in a plausible, cinematic, and compelling way. The original game focused on the invasion from the American side, but the extra add-on missions found in Soviet Assault focus on the Red Armys perspective. All of the new expansion story elements follow several officers in the Soviet military across numerous engagements, and they provide some balance to the original one-sided account of the conflict between the two military superpowers. Strong characters and well-constructed cinematic sequences will leave you feeling moments of sympathy for the two sides.
Each of the new missions are evenly sandwiched-in at different points between the 14 original American missions in the single-player campaign from the main game. With the expansion, youll start out as the Soviet forces in a preliminary engagement against NATO forces in West Berlin. This provides some back-story before proceeding with the U.S. invasion and the first few original campaign missions where the Americans attempt to mount a defense against the onslaught in Seattle. The Soviet maps and story elements crop up at semi-regular intervals to supplement and expand on the original. The extra missions are varied, and battles play out across several beautiful new terrain maps, but the additions afforded by the expansion are largely limited to these specific, story-driven encounters.
Soviet Assaults story cutscenes and overall presentation retains the highly dramatic and cinematic style of the main campaign and is rendered in glorious detail through the in-game engine. The graphical polish and amazing visuals from World in Conflict carry over to the new battlefield encounters. Digging your nose into the engagements at ground level lets you walk like a general amidst your troops to witness the carnage of war first-hand. This is wonderfully fun and exciting in short bursts, but its a little hard to orchestrate your entire forces maneuvers. Conversely, panning the camera out to an eagles-eye view is a real treat. The sky is often filled with gorgeous cloud and lighting effects, plumes of smoke from nearby explosions, and streaks from rockets and airborne battles in the distance. Theres always a lot going on around you, and soaking-in the cacophonous sights and sounds of immense battles that unfold across dense cities and rolling countryside is extremely stimulating.