Twenty bucks. Six solo missions. Two multiplayer maps that are free elsewhere. That sums up the Soviet Assault expansion to World in Conflict. The outstanding 2007 real-time strategy game has long been deserving of an add-on or sequel, if only to continue the great storyline about godless Communists invading John Hughes' America, but this trifle is both undersized and overpriced. While the battles complement the apocalyptic bombast of the original game, and provide a new dimension to the Russian invasion of the United States, there isn't nearly enough content to warrant the price tag.
Here come the Russians! Again!
The story and setting take a director's-cut approach to the solo campaign in the original World in Combat. Instead of telling a new story, the six single-player scenarios stick to the same old Russian invasion of the United States and Western Europe in the summer of 1989 and weave in and out of the 14 missions of the first game. The big difference is that the campaign now lets you see the conflict from both sides, because all six of the new missions have you fighting with a Soviet task force commanded by the gruff but lovable Colonel Orlovsky. You now swap back and forth between the American and Soviet perspectives at key moments in the war, which creates an expansive new campaign that works well from a storytelling perspective at the cost of preventing you from playing the new missions on their own.
This somewhat innovative approach livens up and deepens the campaign, giving it more of the epic atmosphere that World War III deserves. Still, it's disappointing that there is so little truly new content here. The six new missions add two or three hours to the total length of time you need to finish the entire campaign, just about the same time it takes to rewatch Red Dawn and its extra content on the collector's-edition DVD. Pace is another problem. While you get off to an exciting new start with the Soviet attack on the Berlin Wall that got the war going, that conflagration ends in 15 minutes and you're dumped into the much lengthier Captain Bannon missions that marked the beginning of the original game. Sure, you fight some intense Soviet battles by the time all is said and done. For instance, the scrap in the sticks with American guerrillas that do everything but scream "Wolverines!" is a hoot, as is the Russian response to the big kaboom at Cascade Falls. But these moments are spread far apart, with three to five missions from the original game between them.
Missions feature the same amount of insane combat as those in the original campaign.
Even if you can deal with the hours of reruns, it's not like the new battles play any differently than the old ones do. The Soviets fight in almost exactly the same way as their American opponents, with units matching up perfectly right down the line of armor, infantry, and air support. No new units are added, and no new tactical or special abilities are incorporated into your options. The visuals and sound are carried over intact. Oh, and as one last added insult, the paltry two multiplayer maps thrown into the package have already been released online as free downloads.
You have to wonder what sort of audience was being targeted with World in Conflict: Soviet Assault. The Complete Edition version that includes both the expansion and the original game for just $30 is a great deal for newcomers to the RTS series, but the expansion alone at $20 is an insult to the existing fan base.