Review: DEFCON

Launches detected. Alerts sounding. Nuclear missiles are falling around you. Tokyo hit, 12 million dead. Calcutta hit. 5.4 million dead. Hong Kong hit. 6.9 million dead. Is this the apocalypse? No! It’s DEFCON! The latest gem to be plucked from the brains of Introversion. The developer responsible for under-appreciated classics such as Darwinia and Uplink. Once you get over the thermonuclear genocide your inflicting on your opponent, it’s a game that becomes quite addictive due to its large number of strategic possibility’s available from such a restrictive amount of units.

The game holds a strong link with the old 80’s movie ‘war games’. The one with the hacker who discovers a program that controls nuclear missiles in the US. Like their other titles, Introversions latest project has a strong retro feel to it, with glowing vector graphics depicting a map of the world and a series of icons representing the 5 unit types and 3 building types that make up the game. The graphics may not be the most stunning, but they certainly fit the mood of the game to a tee.

In most games, sound is something that you don’t notice until its gone. Something that can be part of the gameplay and help you play. In DEFCON the sounds become the key factor in creating a realistic and depressing atmosphere that should bring you to near depression the first time you play. Set as a general in a bunker, the sounds feature such exciting classics as; ‘working generator’, ‘eerie dripping’, and don’t forget ‘the slow quite sobs and coughs of those around you, as you hear the low bass rumbling of another city falling to your nuclear holocaust’. Cheery stuff. But it all draws you in to the depressing nature of the game and the message in its gameplay. DEFCON is a game you cannot win.

defcon03.png          defcon02.png          defcon01.png

As long as your morals don’t include *just* 64 million deaths a win. The aim of Defcon is not to protect your silos, win naval battles or take down enemy airfields. The aim of the game is simply to incur the greatest number of civilian casualties to your enemy, while protecting your own populace. This is a near impossible task, and as Introversion put it, you cant win, but maybe you can loose the least. To loose the least you will have to carefully coordinate attacks from your bases and fleets ensuring that your rain of fire falls thick enough to overwhelm you enemy’s defences. Most easily done in real time, you can carefully micromanage every plane bomber and sub as events unfold second by second. But unless you want a very long game, you’ll want to increase the speed to 5, 10 or 20 times the normal speed.

The game unfortunately has one downfall. In its simplicity is the inherent problem of keeping the game interesting. RTS fans may find the lack of unit types and freedom of play uninteresting after several games or so, and the less patient game may find the strategic nature of the game to slow for their liking. However, for the mere price of £10 ($17.50) its well worth what you’re getting. Not even mentioning the numerous graphic mods already bursting out from the community. This is a classic gem of a game that is engaging online and incredibly fun to play against friends.


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  1. heh its a great game, but doesn’t last nearly as long as a proper game like Dawn of War. 🙂 Not enough unit types, too slow, and I don’t like having ANY loses.

  2. Eurogamer: Care to give an example of the sort of Machiavellian disasters we can see?

    Chris Delay: We’ve seen alliance members shooting overhead friendly planes down because they believed the planes were scouting the area for targets in preparation for a strike. This results in arguments in the chat channels, followed by skirmishes at sea, followed by retaliation, before finally the whole alliance collapses and everyone starts nuking the hell out of each other. It’s awesome.



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