World in Conflict: Where Stoners Don`t Play Nice
TomChick - News - 09/19/07 - Link

Massive's World in Conflict -- you can read my review here -- is a game played by at least a half dozen people, or not at all. The AI is terrible, and the way it's designed, you need at least three or four people on a side. Like Shattered Galaxy (which -- whoa! -- is still around!), you only control one facet of the draconian paper-rock-scissors system. So you rely on the tactical prowess of strangers.

But then there are are the roving gangs of players who all but cheat by knowing each other and using cooperation. I was on a ranked server tonight and noticed that everyone on one side had several chevrons by his name. Then I noticed they all had a clan tag: 420. Ha ha. I think I'll go make a 69 clan! That'll be really funny! These 420 guys were merrily helping each other out, pooling their points to buy nukes, using the comm system, and pretty much steamrolling the poor chevron-less slobs on the other team. Great work, guys. Way to kill any sense of enjoyment for the new players. Their gg's at the end of each match were more an insult than anything else. Folks on the other team were logging off in droves, leaving empty slots for unsuspecting new players.

So the first thing I did was point out the disparity. They feigned innocence. Then I asked them to even out the teams. They called me a cunt. So then I tried to game the system. As soon as a match started, I joined the team they joined, hopefully autobalancing some of them onto the other side. I announced on the server that everyone should do this, but the poor chevron-less guys just jumping in probably didn't know what I was talking about. They probably just wanted to get striaght to the part where stuff blows up. Plus, the 420 dudes were shrewd. They simply sat in the unassigned pool long enough for new players to come in and let them jump onto the team with the rest of their clan.

This sort of dickery is what you get in multiplayer only games. World in Conflict is only as good as the other people playing it. Which is to say, online heaven or hell is other people. That's the big caveat with a game that can't be bothered to give you a single player way to play. Massive's Ground Control had the same problem, but back then, they didn't even pretend to include a skirmish AI.

Frankly, it's not that big of a deal, especially in a team-based game where everyone's skill tends to even out in the mishmash of those who suck and those who play all day in their dorm rooms or mother's basements (I'm just kidding and I'm sure the guys in 420 -- ha ha, that never gets old! -- are well-adjusted individuals). If you get a server with a bunch of jerks, just jump to another server. Because what else are you going to do, play a skirmish against the AI?

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