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(hx) 05:46 PM EDT - Oct,08 2006

DEFCON is a war game from British developer Introverson Software, the guys who created Uplink and Darwinia. In DEFCON, you have a dehumanized 1980s vector graphics computer-themed world map, a varied arsenal of nuclear weapons, and one objective: to kill as many foreign citizens as possible! Yeah, DEFCON is all about one thing; nuking your human or AI opponents until they glow!!

DEFCON is a top-down real time strategy game. The battlefield consists of a world map covered with cities that serve as targets. The winner of a game is the player who manages to inflict the most casualties without losing too much of his own population. The game is divided into phases, represented by DEFCON levels* (the game counts down from DEFCON 5 to DEFCON ), where you have a limited timeframe to place your buildings and units. The first thing you must do is build some nuclear missile silos/air defense (toggle) and Air bases - they can launch either short range fighters or long range bomber that can carry nuclear bombs. You also have to set up radar stations to monitor enemy troop movements in your territory. Finally, you also have to deploy naval fleets that you can create from three units. Submarines can get within close proximity of an enemy territory without being detected, where they can sit and bombard cites with nuclear warheads. Carriers are equipped with anti-submarine sonar and depth charges to counter the underwater menace, plus they can launch fighters and bombers - however, they're vulnerable to attack from battleships.

The controls are pretty simple. You click on a single ship in a fleet to pick the whole fleet, and right click to tell it where to go. If you right click on a unit, you'll get the possibilities of what it can do - for example, airbases and carriers have the 'fighter launch' and 'bomber launch' options  and carriers also have 'antisubmarine' and so forth. Most units have several operating modes for different functions, and require several minutes to switch modes. For instance, ordering a missile silo to switch from offensive launches to missile defense will leave it inoperative while it switches. Needless to say, the clock is running, and it never stops. Sure, you can slow it down to a minimum of real time, or speed it up quite a bit, but you can never stop it. As the timer inevitably counts down, the stakes are raised. Once the nukes start flying, DEFCON turns into a struggle to balance your defenses with your offenses! As the game website says: "Everybody dies". You can't stop all the nukes! :-D

*DEFCON levels are:

DEFCON 5: No hostile action - you may place units and fleets and units can move into international waters. Game start! - 0 minutes
DEFCON 4: No hostile action. Radar coverage will provide information on units within range. You may continue to place units and fleets and move units into international waters -  +6 minutes
Conventional naval and airborne combat is authorized. Units and fleets can no longer be placed - +12 minutes
The game's documentation says that "more aggressive hostile actions," are possible. No change from DEFCON 3, however. This is the final stage before nuclear weapons are available - +20 minutes
The use of nuclear weapons is authorized. ICBMs, submarine MRBMs, and bomber SRBMs are available - +30 minutes
While you can set up games against AI opponents, DEFCON was clearly made for LAN and online play for up to six players. There is also a separate 'Office Mode' that plays the game in a window, eliminates sound and allows people to quickly eliminate the window if the non-cool boss decides to look at your monitor :-P Other modes include Diplomacy where everyone starts as a member of the green alliance, then as things progress the players can break the alliance and try to attack other members. This leads us to the final game mode - Custom - which allows you to tweak all the settings you want, including Game Speed, Radar sharing modes, and the scale of the world map. There are three ways to score your game: in Default game mode, you score 2 points for every million enemy citizens killed, and lose 1 point for every million civilians you fail to protect; etc.

Overall, I really liked this game. It's extremely entertaining and easy to learn/play but also contains enough strategic depth to keep most everybody interested. DEFCON is proof that one doesn't require millions of dollars to make a great game in 2006. DEFCON is ultimate pick-up-and-play multiplayer strategy game and I don't know why you wasted your time reading this review instead of playing! :-)

related links: demo, manual (PDF).

System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, P3-600-Geforce 2, 128 MB RAM, 60 MB Hard Disk, Internet connection for multiplayer games

snd: 4/5 - haunting soundtrack, effects are used superbly too
gfx: 3/5 - simple but extremely stylish, perfectly suiting DEFCON's matter-of-fact approach.
playability: 5/5 - pretty cool, intuitive user interface, not much micromanagement, few but comprehensive unit types, excellent multiplayer (LAN/Internet) up to six players, office mode (the game continues to run in the background - tray icon)
genre: real-time strategy
release: September 2006
developer: Introversion Software
publisher: homepage
Overall: 85%

last 10 comments:

djRom(06:39 PM EDT - Oct,08 2006 )
Top shelf game! Its a shame that its 30$ now and you have to buy it online, or on Steam. Screw steam. Anyway, get this game anyway you can, its a great, rather simplistic game. :)

poster55(07:04 AM EDT - Oct,09 2006 )
Reminds me of a old movie called "War Games"

Would you like to play a game?

djRom(08:12 AM EDT - Oct,09 2006 )
I would love to! But, unfortunately for me, I have yet to actually buy the game. I plan to by next week, at which point I'd love to get in a game with you. :)

xxxx(12:52 PM EDT - Oct,10 2006 )
I'd be suprised if more than 15 people buy this. Ewwwwww!

Missle Command looks like a better and more addictive game than this blast from the past kinda title...

El_Coyote(05:21 PM EDT - Oct,10 2006 )
introvision really makes great games.
i bought both uplink and darvinia and willg et this too. i've tried it and its really something.

Dawgie(09:16 AM EST - Oct,30 2006 )
Pre ordered it and got the boxed version + download version for 10. Nice game :)

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