MacCentric Review of DEFCON

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DEFCON
Posted 05/15/2007 at 20:20 by michael@amdesign.net
DEFCON (Mac port) is the latest game from the UK-based Introversion software. Like their last sleeper hit Darwinia, DEFCON is built on a simplistic concept turned into a deep and complex game.

Heavily influenced by the 1980's movie War Games, the graphics of DEFCON are simplistic yet beautiful at the same time. The colors are pleasing and soft on the eye. The HUD information is stashed in the side, yet accessible, and fits in the style of the game. The tactical-focused unit icons fit the style, and get the job done, and are sized well.

The gameplay of DEFCON revolves around a nuclear war. You start in DEFCON 5, where you place your units. There are radars, which allow you to see enemy units and nukes. There are silos, which either protect your airspace or launch nukes. There are airbases to launch fighters and bombers. And there are a limited number of ships you can deploy. Unlike conventional real time strategy games, there is no resource collection in DEFCON. Instead, everyone is simply given a limited number of units.

As time passes, you progress to DEFCON 4, and enemy units become visible on the radar. Conventional warfare begins in DEFCON 3, and DEFCON 1 opens the game up to nukes.

In the game, you are balancing on a strategical knifepoint. If you focus all your defenses in one point, you are vulnerable to be hit from a different location. If you spread out your defenses too wide, then it won't cover well enough, and will be overwhelmed when there are a dozen of nukes flying towards you. Another key strategic point is the sea. Submarines are capable of launching nukes, and if you lose at sea, you will have nukes being launched in your own doorstep. Sea battles are hell for micromanagement, and without balancing things right, a battle can take a turn for the worst. Through the strategy, however, the game is fairly simplistic, as there are few units, no levels, etc.

While you can play games against bots, DEFCON is primarily an online game. You play anywhere from 2-6 player games, and there are six map regions you play as. Against humans, not only is basic strategy important, but so is timing and diplomacy. In order to come out on top of 5 other players, you will have to make alliances. However, only one player can win, so eventually all alliances will crumble. Timing is key, and you are dealing with real human players. Diplomacy certainly adds depth to the game.

Overall, DEFCON is a highly polished and fun experience. Despite some shortcomings in depth, online is a real plus, and the game plays beautifully, rarely lagging or crashing. If anything it is justified by the price of the game, far less than the average PC or console game. I would recommend picking up the game without a heartbeat.

Woo!

I haven't enjoyed a computer game this much since EV Nova was first released. It's good to see more positive reviews about it. 🙂

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