Shall we play a game?
These days computer games and movies go pretty much hand in hand, whether it is a movie of a game or a game of a movie. But back in the 80’s that wasn’t so much the case. Sure there were movie tie in games, but not to the same scale we get now. In 1983 a film came out that had a unique premise. A young hacker finds his way into what he thinks is a computer game system. When asked if he would like to play a game he chooses Global Thermonuclear War, as you do. What unfolds is a jolly romp as he realises that the computer system he has hacked is actually the military defence grid and that he is actually about to start nuclear war in real life! The film was called War Games. At the time there was no game tie in (that I know of).
Sweat inducingly tense!
So what the heck has this got to do with Defcon? Well, although Defcon is not a real movie tie in to War Games, it is certainly spiritually connected! Defcon is a Thermonuclear War simulator! As Introversion call it, ?The Worlds first Genocide ’em up?. The aim of the game is to wipe out your enemy and to lose as little of your own population as possible.
Defcon is broken down into 5 sections, 5 Defence Conditions. Each of these phases allows you do to different things. During Defcon 5 you will need to position your forces. At your disposal are radars, missile silos, battle ships, carriers, subs and air support. These can be placed around your map as you see fit. Over the course of the next 2 phases you can move your ships and subs and fly reconnaissance over enemy territory. Once you hit Defcon 1 it is time to unleash your nukes! This is where the action really starts!
With you and your enemy now set up and committed you will need to target each others cities to try and wipe each other out. During the previous phases, you should have scoped out some of the enemies’ defences, so taking them out is a good start. You can do this by sending in bombers or by using your battle ships. Missile silos can work in 2 ways, automatic missile defence or Nuke launchers. These will fire Long Range Missiles. You can also use your Subs to launch off medium range missiles and your bomber to drop short range missiles.
It is hard to describe how all of this works. On paper is sounds a bit boring. You target the population areas, launch, sit back and wait to see what happens. The thing is though, that as you are doing this you are also getting attacked by one or more opponents. You have to keep watching where there planes are and send yours to intercept. You need to keep an eye on what nukes are headed your way and see if you can defend against them. The interface is simple to use and with no resource management you can just get on with real strategy for once!
What makes this all the more interesting is that it is an online multiplayer game! You are doing this with players all over the real world. This adds a further strategy to the game, alliances. Do you go it alone, or try and make friends with neighbouring combatants? Once allied, do you stick to it or betray them at the last second? Will they betray you?
Graphically there is not much going on, but that is exactly what you need. You are presented with a Neon outline map of the world. Units are all neon outlines. As missiles start to fly, you can watch as their trajectory is traced on the map for you. It looks just like you would hope the real thing would look like and just like it does in War Games. This is one of those games that proves that graphics don’t make a game!
The music in the game is very moving and at times begins to make you consider what you are actually doing. You leap for joy as you wipe out the population of China, but then sit back down as the sad music brings you back to earth with an emotional bump!
Defcon is an outstanding game, produced by a true independent developer Introversion, the same people who brought you Darwinia! It shows off the best of innovation and lateral thinking. We need more of this kind of thing in our gaming lives. Buy it now and find out how much fun destroying the world really can be!
Wouldn’t you prefer a nice game of chess? Hell no, give me Themonuclear war every time!!
The Bad: No real single player action to be had.