Review by MS3FGX

"Why did it take so long to make this game?"

Ever since I saw the movie “WarGames”, I have searched for a game that replicated the one Matthew Broderick played against the W.O.P.R. For some reason which I will never understand, there was nothing even similar until DEFCON came along, even the licensed “WarGames” games actually had very little to do with the movie itself.

If you could not already guess, I love this game. It is a very surreal experience to play DEFCON. We are accustomed to shooting terrorists in the face or jumping out of helicopters in modern games, so much so that to command a real-time nuclear strike that only reports it's results via a cold hard display of how many millions of people were killed actually seems more exciting to me.

Playing DEFCON, I was very literally on the edge of my seat; face inches from the monitor, waiting to see if my missile would make it though their defenses. It felt real, it felt exciting, but most importantly, it was a whole lot of fun.

Not that this game is for everyone, certainly. The gameplay itself appeals to a select group of individuals, and it's artistic design will probably put many off.

Basically, the game is rendered as a familiar “Big Board” which we have all seen in movies (Dr. Strangelove, WarGames, etc). It doesn't have any high tech effects, doesn't even have any textures. It is simply a line drawing of the entire world, with almost a neon-tube like appearance. It looks very retro, and invokes an image of Cold War technology. The map itself is combined with a very sparse and utilitarian UI.

The cold nature of global war is really captured in the artistic design of the game. It drives home the feeling of isolation; of making decisions not based on your personal feelings, but on numbers ticking across a screen.

I also like the audio in the game, as strange as that might seem. The audio is comprised mainly of things like papers shuffling, people coughing, the occasional murmur of distant speech, etc. Again, the idea here is to make the player feel like they are sitting in a bunker with a group of other people making the cold and heartless decisions they hoped they would never have to, but had been preparing themselves for all of their professional lives. There are also various sound effects for the different DEFCON levels are reached, when a nuclear launch is detected, and other game-critical events. The sound effects perfectly fit in with the rest of the game.

Easily the best feature of the game is the online multiplayer mode. You can go online and engage in global war with people...all over the globe. Battles online can be epic, you could easily go for hours. There is also a level of strategy involved when playing online, as you can form alliances with other countries, and strategize with them via private chat.

There is really nothing like playing a game of this scale against human players. It is the ultimate battle of cunning, an experience the likes of which I can honestly say I have never experienced before in a game.

My love for it aside, it isn't without it's faults. The abilities offered to the player are a bit sparse. Only a select group of weapons are presented here. No stealth bombers, no spy satellites, no aerial refueling, etc. Even the hardware represented is considerably over simplified. For example, submarines can stay underwater forever, all naval craft have unlimited fuel, and so on. Of course, to be fair, if all of those weapons were represented realistically the game would probably be too overwhelming to actually enjoy.

Even with it's minor faults, I just can't stop loving DEFCON. It is probably because I have dreamed about a game like this becoming a reality since the 80's, but I am hooked. Of course, if Global Thermonuclear War is not your thing, perhaps you would prefer a nice game of chess?


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/31/06


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