World in Conflict: Massive Interview
Find out why the Swedes at Massive Entertainment think this might just be the most successful console strategy game yet.
The 1984 action movie Red Dawn told the story of a group of American kids taking it to the Soviets at the dawn of World War III. The movie has gathered a cult following in the intervening decades and even made it into the Guinness Book of Records one year for the highest frequency of violent acts.
Among the many fans of the movie is Nickalas Cederstrom, lead game designer at Swedish developer Massive Entertainment. Together with company president, Martin Walfisz, he's working to bring that same nightmarish vision (albeit without the cheese factor) to Massive's new console and PC strategy game World in Conflict.
"Who wouldn't love Russians invading America and high-school boys taking it back," Cederstrom told us, explaining his high regard for the film.
"Sure the movie is a bit cheesy if you see it today, but back in the day it was awesome. And it's been living with me since that day that it would be an awesome game concept, to have the Russians invade the USA and the USA needs to fight back."
Young Cederstrom would be proud to see that concept now taking life in World in Conflict, which places players in the boots of soldiers on the battlefield during a Soviet invasion of the US. Walfisz, who sees elements of Black Hawk Down in the game, is keen to point out that Massive is going for something more serious here, with a grittier, more realistic tone.
The story begins in 1989. The USSR is pushing into Europe before launching an all-out attack on US soil. You play a commander on the battlefield, guiding troops in the charge to recover control and force the Soviets out.
This unsettling starting point was handed over to best-selling author Larry Bond. Bond, who previously worked with Tom Clancy, has used his military background to craft a chillingly real storyline.
"He has a lot of knowledge of the political aspects of the Cold War era, so he really helped us lay down the bigger picture of what is this game about," says Walfisz. Cederstrom adds that Bond lent authenticity to the project, crafting a plausible and believable story that sets out why the superpowers collide.
Before the project even started, the team steeped themselves in the facts and figures about the recent past. Walfisz talks of his surprise at learning how many times the world came to teetering over the edge.
There's the Cuban missile crisis, of course, but there are also other events less well known. "Reading about it gives you the chills. I'm really happy we're doing a virtual version and it didn't happen in real life," he says.
World in Conflict isn't all about the US, though. The game does start in Europe, and Cederstrom says that players will get to play on that side of the Atlantic too. But the bulk of the action is set in the US, in familiar cities and featuring familiar landmarks.