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World Recon (1999 video game)

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World Recon (1999 video game)
World-Recon (1999)
Developer(s) Neversoft
Publisher(s) Activision
Distributor(s) Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platform(s) PlayStation
Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 2
Genre(s) Action-adventure, stealth
Release Date(s)
September 19, 1999
PlayStation 2 & Microsoft Windows (Signature Edition)
NASeptember 11, 2000
UKOctober 5, 2000
EUOctober 6, 2000

World Recon is a 1999 first-person shooter video game developed by Neversoft and published by Activision. It is the first entry in the World Recon series. The campaign is set in World War I and follows the story of two soldiers from both Canada and the United States named Private Samuel Thompson (US) and Corporal Kanye Strong (UK) as they fight to defend the timeline of World War I from being changed.

The game was developed and released for the PlayStation on September 19, 1999. It later became available for the PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Windows on September 18, 2000 dubbed Signature Edition.

World Recon recieved critical acclaim, scoring an average Metacritic aggregate score of 97%, making it the sixth highest-rated game on the PlayStation 2, and tied for the seventh highest-rated game of all time. The game was also a commercial success, selling 9.5 million copies on the PS and 2 million copies on PS2 and PC.


World Recon is a World War I first-person shooter. The game itself places the player in control of two infantry soldiers who make use of various authentic World War I firearms in combat. Each mission features a series of objectives which are marked on the heads-up display's compass; the player must complete all objectives to advance to the next mission. The player can save and load at any time, rather than the checkpoint system utilized in later World Recon games.

The player has two primary weapon slots, a handgun slot and can carry up to ten grenades. Weapons may be exchanged with those found on the battlefield dropped by dead Nightmare soldiers.


Characters and setting

The player takes control of protagonists Samuel Thompson and Kayne Strong. Non-playable characters include Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety, and General Walton Brother from the fantasy military called World-Peace Dreams (WPD).


During the 19th century, the major European powers went to great lengths to maintain a balance of power throughout Europe, resulting in the existence of a complex network of political and military alliances throughout the continent by 1900. These began in 1815, with the Holy Alliance between Prussia, Russia, and Austria. When Germany was united in 1871, Prussia became part of the new German nation. Soon after, in October 1873, German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck negotiated the League of the Three Emperors (German: Dreikaiserbund) between the monarchs of Austria-Hungary, Russia and Germany. This agreement failed because Austria-Hungary and Russia could not agree over Balkan policy, leaving Germany and Austria-Hungary in an alliance formed in 1879, called the Dual Alliance. This was seen as a method of countering Russian influence in the Balkans as the Ottoman Empire continued to weaken. This alliance expanded, in 1882, to include Italy in what became the Triple Alliance.

The strategy of the Central Powers suffers from miscommunication. Germany has promised to support Austria-Hungary's invasion of Serbia, but interpretations of what this means differed. Previously tested deployment plans have been replaced early in 1914, but those had never tested in exercises. Austro-Hungarian leaders believe Germany would cover its northern flank against Russia. Germany, however, envisions Austria-Hungary directing most of its troops against Russia, while Germany deals with France. This confusion forces the Austro-Hungarian Army to divide its forces between the Russian and Serbian fronts.

The game begins after the start of World War I. A year later, in 1915, Samuel Thompson and Kayne Strong begin their separate training as a new soldiers for the US and UK armies. During the attack in Italy, a giant robot-like scorpion attacks Strong's squad. As Strong is the only member left standing, he defeats the robot single handily. He is then abducted by an unknown assailant.


The concept of the game first started at Neversoft after the company was founded in July 1994 by three employees of Malibu Interactive, (previously Acme Interactive) a division of Malibu Comics based in Westlake Village, California. At that time the primary platforms were the 16-bit consoles, the Mega Drive/Genesis and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Games for these systems could be developed by very small teams, anywhere from two to ten developers. As a result it was much easier than at present to set up a game development company, and several groups of people had already left Malibu to strike out on their own. Left Field Productions and Paradox Development being two extant companies that were founded in such a way, with others such as Clockwork Tortoise no longer in existence. Joel Jewett, a native of Montana and a CPA, was at the time head of development at the rapidly shrinking Malibu Interactive. He teamed up with Mick West, a game programmer who had just completed working on "Battletech - A Game of Armored Combat" for the Mega Drive/Genesis, and Chris Ward, an Artist. Both Chris and Mick were from Yorkshire in England, although they first met when they moved to California in 1993 to work at Malibu Interactive.

After Neversoft was formed, the idea of World Recon surfaced. However, it was put aside when the company started development for Playmates Interactive Entertainment, a then-division of Playmates Toys who were about to release a line of toys called Skeleton Warriors and wanted a video game to go along with the toys and the cartoon series. Neversoft began work on the game design and moved into offices in Woodland Hills, California. Neversoft worked on the Sega Genesis version for five months, over that time they hired another artist and a level designer. In December 1994, Playmates cancelled the game. They were not unhappy with the progress, but had decided that they needed to get on the 32-bit bandwagon and develop the game for the Sega Saturn., Skeleton Warriors. Over the course of 1995, Neversoft grew rapidly by hiring three programmers, five artists, a level designer, a tester and an office administrator. Skeleton Warriors was finished in time for the 1995 holiday season and Neversoft began looking for other work while they ported Skeleton Warriors to the PlayStation in 1996.

Neversoft continued to expand during 1996, swelling to over twenty employees. They worked for six months on a game based on Ghost Rider for Crystal Dynamics which was cancelled due to financial problems with the publisher. They got connected to the internet (previously all communications were done with phone and fax). With some excess capacity Neversoft started to develop a game of their own design, initially called Big Guns. The technology developed there was used in their next project, a conversion of the PC game MDK. Towards the end of 1996, Neversoft sold the idea for Big Guns to Sony Computer Entertainment and they began development. 1997 was a tumultuous year for Neversoft. The MDK conversion took far longer than expected, and the Big Guns game (renamed Exodus) went through numerous design changes at the behest of Sony and was eventually cancelled in November 1997. The company shrunk back to just twelve employees. Neversoft then spent the next few months shopping around their technology, meeting with numerous companies and looking for work.

n January 1998, just as Neversoft was about to run out of money, they had a fortunate meeting with Activision who were looking for someone to re-develop Apocalypse, a failed internal project featuring the voice of Bruce Willis. The technology developed for Big Guns turned out to be ideal for the project, Activision was impressed and Neversoft began work on Apocalypse. In May 1998, Apocalypse was going very well, and Activision signed up Neversoft to develop a prototype for a skateboarding game. This proceeded slowly as they could not spare many people from Apocalypse. The initial prototypes resembled the arcade game Top Skater. Apocalypse wrapped up in October 1998 and development began in earnest on Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (aka THPS) for the PlayStation and N64. By the end of 1998, the game development was in full swing and at this time Neversoft comprised 16 people: six programmers, five artists, three level designers, one producer and Joel, the President.

After that, World Recon resurfaced. The game was originally going to be developed for the the Sega Genesis, but was switched to a PlayStation exclusive.

World Recon was shown to the public at E3 1998 as a short video. It was later playable for the first time at the Tokyo Game Show in 1999 and officially released the same year in Japan with an extensive promotional campaign. Television and magazine advertisements, in-store samples, and demo give-aways contributed to a total of $8 million in promotional costs. An estimated 12 million demos for the game were distributed during 1999.

Signature Edition



Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 97.81
Metacritic 96/100
Review scores
Publication Score
Allgame 4.5 / 100
Edge 9.6/10
GamePro 5 / 100
GameSpot 9.0/10
IGN 9.7/10
X-Play 5 / 100

World Recon received critical acclaim, and was given high scores by some of the most prominent gaming critics. On the review aggregator GameRankings, the game has an average score of 97.75% based on 106 reviews. On Metacritic, the game had an average score of 90/100, based on 168 reviews.

Gaming website IGN awarded a 9.7/10 and Edge rated it 9.6/10. GameSpot, who granted it an 9.0/10, commented that the game is "richly cinematic" and "a great achievement." The cut scenes of World Recon have been called "visually exciting and evocative, beautifully shot" by Edge.

The game received some positive feedback from both the US and UK Armies.

Signature Edition

Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 96.71
Metacritic 92/100
Review scores
Publication Score


The game was a commercial success, selling 9.5 million copies worldwide by March 2000 on the PS console. In November 2000, Activision announced the PS2 and PC versions sold over 2 million copies, totalling up to 11 million in sales.


Main article: World Recon (series)


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