The Third World War is a turn-based strategy game for the Sega CD where the player takes on the role as the leader of one of sixteen world powers, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, during the Cold War or four hypothetical scenarios. The game is won either through economic supremacy over 60 regions or by conquering 51 regions militarily without starting a nuclear world war.
The game is split between a turn-based mode similar to Risk and a real-time strategy mode for invasions.
Each turn starts with a roundup of random events and actions taken by the computer over the past turn. The player is then given a limited amount of actions and resources to develop their economy and military, conduct diplomacy and covert actions, and initiate military strikes before advancing on to the next month.
If the player chooses to invade a country during that phase or if one of the player's regions is invaded, the game switches to real-time mode as the player controlled army clashes with the computer controlled opponent until one side is destroyed or surrenders.
The Third World War
A post-Cold War world of 1995 with the US as the sole world power, Russia and China in decline, and the lesser world powers vying to fill this power vacuum.
The Cold War
Set in 1985 during the final stages of the cold war, the US and Russia are the dominant world powers, but are both slowly declining due to bloating military overspending that's could give room to new challengers on the world stage.
War of the Pacific Powers
In this scenario Japan has become a dominant world power stuck in the middle between a growing China and the United States.
A scenario where the developed nations of the world are in an economic and military decline while Iraq, Libya, South Africa and India are filling the void by building their own empires.
The Economic Struggle
A scenario focusing on economic warfare and control with more weight put on foreign investment and economic prowess than raw military might.
Sixteen countries are are playable in the game, comprising a total of 40 of the 85 in the game.These are the United States of America, Russia, Japan, China, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, India, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Libya. Each nation starts with different advantages in military, economic, and diplomatic terms with some being more difficult to play as than others.
Other nations, such as Italy, Cuba and Sweden, are non-playable and only exist as regions in the game.