Pages: 1 2 3
Review by: Gavin Carter
Published: December 27, 2001
Despite the glut of titles available in the real-time strategy genre, the vast majority tends to focus on extraordinary scenarios, such as sci-fi or fantasy themed settings. Those who crave realistic military-based RTS’s are forced to either deal with a small number of lackluster titles, or ship themselves off to Afghanistan. But now, thanks to developer Reality Pump and publisher JoWood Productions, all those armchair John Wayne’s can hold off on the buzz-cut, and just play World War III: Black Gold instead.
World War III‘s developers have made every effort to make the game as realistic and believable as possible. The story is kept simple, yet it seems to be ripped from the headlines of a not-so-distant future. The game’s premise is that the Earth’s oil resources are beginning to dry up at a much faster rate than expected. The international oil consortium, OPEC, decides to cease distribution, keeping all of what remains for its own member nations. Obviously this decision doesn’t go over all that well with the USA or Russia, and war is declared. Over the course of the game, the player sees the conflict from all three sides.
World War III‘s PR states that the developers consulted with actual military agencies to ensure accuracy when developing the game, and the result is highly evident when playing. Each of the three playable nations features unique unit selections from that country’s actual real-world military, and each has its particular strengths and weaknesses. The Americans have the most technologically advanced weaponry in the game, with the trade-off being their units are the most expensive and take the longest time to research. The Russians are a “middle ground,” with cheaper, less complex units than the Americans. Their ranks feature chemical weapons that can kill the crew of an enemy vehicle without harming the actual machinery, leaving the unit open for easy capture. The Iraqis are the least advanced in the game, relying on speed and intelligence gathering to win. All Iraqi ground units feature a camouflage ability, which renders them invisible to enemy units when standing still.
The game offers the player three ways of leaping headlong into mass destruction: skirmish, for quick and dirty battles against the computer; multiplayer for some online action, and campaign for those who want to wallow up to their knees in plot. World War III also features in-depth training missions to introduce new players to gameplay mechanics: There are four US tutorials that teach the basics of unit creation, resource management, and combat. Then both the Russians and the Iraqis have a single tutorial each that teach the player how to use that particular nation’s special units. The tutorials use a combination of well-voiced instructions from commanding officers (each featuring the appropriate national accent) and pop-up briefing windows offering detailed information on objectives or units. Training missions also show off the unit AI options from formations to fire modes. Groups of units can be put into square or line formations, or the player can create original formations by placing individual units and selecting the “Keep Formation” option when moving. Units will then maintain, as tightly as pathfinding allows, the same formation they were in when they were selected.
All three nations feature two campaign modes, with each campaign comprised of five or six missions each for a total of thirty missions. The campaigns are nicely book ended with some amazing cinematics that set up and end the individual plotlines quite nicely. Mission objectives are laid out via an in-game pop-up window as soon as the mission loads, and often are preceded by a scripted sequence or two. The pop-up windows are easily accessed through the interface for future reference, and feature both in-depth instructions and a bulleted list of objectives. Mission objectives often change several times during the course of a single mission, and can include tasks as varied as escorting ammo trucks to stealing the enemy’s resources.
The resource model in World War III is deceptively simple. The main resource comes directly from the plot: oil. At some point in the majority of missions, the player is required to seek out oil deposits (represented by dark splotches on the map) and set up a base. Oil is gathered through pumps and is then sold to generate cash for units and other base structures. Base structures in World War III require electricity which is generated, conveniently enough, by electric generators which can be set up anywhere on the map. The generators behave similarly to the Protoss’ Pylons in Starcraft, with each generator providing electricity for structures within a certain radius. The caveat is that each generator can only support two structures; so most bases will require many generators to function. Because of their vital function, generators make excellent targets both for the player and for his/her enemies, and are generally guarded accordingly.
Pages: 1 2 3