Defcon

very good
key review info
  • Game: Defcon
  • Platform: PC
  • Gamepad support: N/a
  • Reviewed on:
  • Written by:
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Have you ever wondered how it would be to destroy the world, every city of it, to be the ultimate commander of the nukes, powered to bring death to the world? Well, you'll be able to do it with Defcon. The nuclear war approaches. It's time for you to do the math and bring on the tactical plans on the table. The world must tremble at your feet. Destroy your enemy's defenses, send his troops into oblivion, do the worst you can. It's a life and death combat. There will only be one ruling country. Let it be yours.

From the creators of Darwinia comes another stupendous online multiplayer. The game at hand simulates a global thermonuclear war. You have only the strongest units to command, no time to play around with kid toys. You have your battleships, carriers and submarines to take the enemy by surprise from the water side. On land you have bombers hidden in airbases, silos that hold 10 ICBMs and the radars to detect any enemy that might dare to enter its range of action.

Concept
In Defcon you are to put together the greatest stratagem of the world (the current world you're playing that is). Your time is limited as the def(ense readiness) con(dition) reaches the maximum readiness required (that would be 1). Using the few buildings and units you have, you must exterminate your enemy's population while disabling their ability to attack your own. Don't think that having a certain set of units to control is easy. You have to be extremely careful about the way you use them as you can produce no more. Your super scheme must involve good defense as well as exquisite offensive capabilities.

With the world map on screen, you start planning. The most vital aspect of the game is how you put your defenses in place. With no radar, the silos will have less time to take down an enemy projectile. No silo near the cities, radar or airbases, these will be sitting ducks. Take good care of your major cities as you score 2 for every million people you kill and you loose 1 for every million people that die in your cities.

Story
The game doesn't really have a story, but more of a constant mission. You are the commander hidden deep within an underground bunker. You are the one that will save the nation (well, at least try to save most of it) while condemning the rest of the world to a nuclear winter.

Gameplay
So you start planning your attack under normal conditions, at defcon 5. You put in place your radars, silos and airbases. By the time you're done arranging the ships and giving them orders it's almost defcon 4. Think fast and plan your defenses wisely. This is the moment for you to see the enemy's units on radar. One last chance to change something to your strategy. Send in your planes and uncover their secret bases. Now you know where to hit. Victory is surely yours. Yes there will be victims on both sides, but you will kill double than him. Come on, come on! Just a little bit closer to his shores! Almost there!

Ready or not, here comes defcon 3! The battle for supremacy begins now. Naval and air combat are authorized. Put those submarines to good work - destroy enemy battleships and carriers. Don't forget to get closer to the enemy cities. Oh, and watch out for those silos in air defense mode, they're gonna crush you if you get too close (taking them down is highly advisable). Battleships attack. Bombers are all over the map. Bomb, destroy, take out their defenses once and for all. And if you happen to get any extra, unnecessary ammo kill a few of their people… just for fun.

You don't even notice time going by as you are taking hits, directing your bombers towards enemy's defenses and cities, sinking his submarines and patrolling his skies with fighters (just to keep his silos busy and distracted from the real menace - your bombers). This is the most colorful part of the game (even more if you have the orders' view on). You'll have the map all lighten up by trajectories of planes and ships of your own and of your enemy (the ones you can see of course).

Just when you were about to "scream" (again) at your units "Sink that wicked sub!" or "All remaining bombs on the cursed silo!"… ALERT! ALERT! This is defcon 1. The moment you were waiting for. The nuclear strike may now begin. Click fast: will your enemy strike from the first moment or do you have the time to inflict the first victims? To push the red button or to wait a few more seconds to be sure to take the last points? The choice is all yours. Just don't take too much time as silos take a while to go from ICBM strikes to air defense and they may miss a few nukes (you DO NOT, I repeat you do NOT want that).

And now behold the majesty of the nuclear war! Everyone still having a silo is deploying all the nukes it can hold. Massive blasting. Huge clouds of dust cover the cities. Millions die. And hurry, hurry with the rest of them, 'cause victory is near. Kill them all and you will have put together the greatest stratagem of the world.

This is it. This is the result of your master scheme. Have you defended your country well enough? Have you inflicted sufficient damage? Have you terrorized enough enemy people? Are you the one that lost the least? The panel of truth reveals itself as the timer reaches zero (not that you didn't have a real time score all through the game, but you still hope you have caused some last minute damage).

Video
If you were a high military commander you couldn't care less if you look your troops in the eye or not. You definitely wouldn't mind not knowing how many rocks are there on the ground above which your units fly at 2 mach. And once you order a nuclear strike it's surely the same to you whether the bomb drops on one tree or the other. All you care about is knowing where the target is and where are your units. That is exactly what this game offers: a map of the world (that can be suitably rotated to see the shortest distance between two regions) and on that map you have cities and units pointed out. Of course there are info displays for each of them (if you want, it's not absolutely necessary).

You can also see an overlay of the population density, countries' territory, ordered trajectories of known units and display the real time score panel. I guess if you really feel the need for more colors you can just apply all overlays… then you'll have an abundance of different light wave lengths on the screen.

Sound
Although repetitive, the music is well chosen. The atmosphere created by mixing up ambiental music with occasional danger alerts (when the defcon status changed) is both relaxing and appropriate for quick decisions as it gives you the impression that time slows down just for you to make up your mind. Of course this adds to the slow moving units and projectiles, generating the idea of a modern art gallery giving the game a unique feeling.

Multiplayer
Defcon is mainly a multiplayer game. As single player you can only play the tutorial or challenge the computer, which plays pretty good, by the way, but he is unable to form an alliance with you. The tricky part with alliances is that there's just one winner so sooner or later you might be tempted to turn the arms against your friends. There can be up to 6 players on the map. Each can choose (or will be randomly put in charge with) the command of one region: Europe, Russia, Africa, North America, South America or Asia.

As I said before, there is only one goal to the game, to lose the least. You'll spend hours sitting around and trying out your strategies, calculating whether it's better to concentrate on defense or offense first. You'll try every region to see if it's easier to defend a smaller or a larger region. The game is absolutely fascinating.

Conclusion
Introversion Software brings up another unconventional, yet thrilling game. Defcon is unique. Don't expect it to be anything like the usual games. All you need to do is take a few moments and allow yourself to be pulled into the art of nuclear wars. It's a stunning multiplayer experience that I recommend whole heartily.


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story 0
gameplay 9
concept 8
graphics 0
audio 8
multiplayer 9
final rating 8.5
Editor's review
very good
 
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