Mark Marrow
24 Oct, 2006


PC Review | The creators of Darwinia offer yet another extraordinary experience.
Darwinia, Uplink? Sure, it may all sound like gibberish for some, but these two games are virtually children for the small development studio Introversion. After receiving critical acclaim for both titles, and snagging a few IGF awards for Darwinia, Introversion are proving that even without big wallets and fancy studios, their games absolutely rock. DEFCON doesn’t end this trend either. A game that is uniquely different from anything else on the market, the DEFCON experience is almost impossible not to enjoy.

DEFCON is inspired by the hit 1983 film, WarGames, whereby gamers get to experience the intensity involved with global thermonuclear war, as you are put in the position in deciding which nation you want to bomb. DEFCON is a game made up of both single and multi player modes, in which gamers are given a nation to control and given the ability to unleash some devastating nuclear power onto others. Both modes are identical, with the only exception being that you can decide to play against computer-controlled opponents rather than the real thing.

DEFCON provides the illusion that you are thrown into a titanic Cold War struggle, with all nations at each other’s neck with nuclear bombs and the like. You’ll begin each game by deploying your units efficiently across your nation’s ground, trying to cut off any possibility of a nuclear attack as well as providing your missile silos with enough room to successfully operate. Each game is broken up into five different phases, from DEFCON 5 all the way down to DEFCON 1, where pretty much all hell breaks loose. During the first DEFCON gamers can deploy their units, setting up defences and attack posts to deploy their missiles. Meanwhile, the other modes are primary your time to move units into position and attack.

There are several unit types that provide different uses that help you succeed in bombing others. Radar stations provide nearby coverage and can pick up any nearby unit or missile coming your way, air bases allow you to launch fighters and long-range bombers and missile silos that can launch nuclear warheads as well as providing defences against incoming aircrafts and nukes. In addition, you’ll be able to control several naval units such as carriers that can launch aircrafts, as well as battleships and submarines.

Australia apparently isn't part of the conflict, unfortunately.

Australia apparently isn't part of the conflict, unfortunately.
The game is played on a simplistic map view of the entire world where you can zoom in on areas to issue out vital orders for your units. As the DEFCON level decreases, you’ll be able to execute more and more moves for your units. For instance, only in DEFCON 3 can you start using your air units or begin combat. Meanwhile, DEFCON 1 gives you the ability to unleash everything including the kitchen sink – bombs from aircrafts, submarines launching bombs and the grand daddy of them all, nuclear bombs. Having the game progress through different phases provides gamers with a bit of strategy in moving units such as submarines and carriers to different areas of the map before actually unleashing their full potential. In-between these phases it’s a good opportunity to single out air coverage to uncover key enemy units, and trying to neutralise missile silos that’ll ultimately cause all sorts of havoc once hitting DEFCON 1.

The attractiveness of all of this is that there’s always different ways to approach each game. You can maintain a defensive stance by letting your aircrafts shoot down incoming ships and air strikes, as well as having your missile silos in air defence mode to prevent incoming nukes and missiles - allowing you to unleash all of your might in the final few minutes of the game where virtually everyone is stripped of their defences by this time. However, you can take an aggressive stance and go all out early if you know where your enemy’s weak points are. It’s all quite versatile, with the game’s different modes and the positioning of your nation offering a new spin each time.

The game includes several different modes that you can play, including Default matches, Diplomacy, BigWorld, Tournament and other modes where you have the flexibility to customise your options such as game length and scoring methods. In the game’s Default mode you’ll score points by nuking your opponent’s cities, meanwhile you’ll also lose points for everyone you fail to protect. This paves the way for the other modes, whereby everything works in a similar way but with different speed and/or different goals available. Tournament is basically a similar match to Default, although spectators can no longer communicate with players and players are assigned random territories. BigWorld provides gamers with double the amount of units on a map that stretches twice the length of a normal match. In addition, your units are half their normal size and their radar range is decreased. Another mode is Diplomacy, where most of the fun is garnished. In this mode each player begins on the same alliance, which means everyone can see each other’s units. However, it isn’t long until alliances break and people begin to plot together to take out other players.

Oh boy, the colours of war.

Oh boy, the colours of war.
Unfortunately, there are a few minor rough edges in what usually is an amazing experience. Depending on your nation’s position, it can mean you’ll be more likely to get ganged-up on by two or more players. Say for instance you were Africa, and had Asia and Europe right above you. It would be nearly impossible to make a successful attack against either of them since both of their air defences and units will work together in taking out your units and missiles. There's also the advantage given if you're North America and only have Europe and Asia as your opponents. More than likely they’ll attack each other due to their closeness, meaning that North America has much more freedom in not getting attacked. Other issues come from the game’s inability of AI scaling. Playing against computer-controlled opponents eventually become fairly straightforward, and with a small community at the moment, you’re often forced into adding these bots into your matches to fill up numbers. And being a fairly heavy multiplayer game, DEFCON lacks a few essential multiplayer options such as player matching and a leader board, which would’ve been a nice incentive to come back to games.

Although, it’s DEFCON’s approachable and simplistic style that is so outstanding and is likely to draw you back in for a few more games. While there’s quite a lot to take in at first, understanding it isn’t too difficult - meaning that almost anyone can get the hang of things over due time. This simplistic style relays onto the game’s visuals and audio too. The game is played on a plain view of the world, with coloured units and structures occupying the map. Missiles leave a dotted trail, and there are a number of filters to indicate your unit’s radar range and each nation’s populated areas. The audio, while incredibly simple, provides a fantastic atmosphere for what is usually a compelling experience. There will be constant warnings when nukes are launched, as well as eerie coughing sounds and cries to give you the illusion that you’re caught in a hidden bunker issuing out these orders.

With some AI scaling, one or two gameplay tweaks and an online leader board, DEFCON would be near perfect. But regardless, at such an attractive price point and a game that is so simple to enjoy, Introversion has once again unleashed their brilliance onto gamers. DEFCON truly is a one of a kind experience.
The Score
Much like Darwinia, DEFCON is going to win a lot of hearts. With its incredibly attractive gameplay, fans of strategy games will have an absolute blast. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related DEFCON Content

DEFCON coming to the DS?
22 May, 2007 Possibly maybe.
DEFCON patch released
14 Dec, 2006 Mod patch applied.
DEFCON Preview
17 Aug, 2006 We check out Introversion's latest title that is set to shock the world.
7 years ago
I just bought this last week, it's so fun in a break-from-real-games kind of way. I've actually only had one game since though, against Quinsisdos, and I utterly owned him. icon_razz.gif I think it's time for a rematch. icon_twisted.gif
7 years ago
Looks great, i am downloading demo now actually, be interesting to see if this new 'genre' works...
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