Although many gamers will be tempted to say that “garage games” are a thing of the past, Introversion Software, a small British studio that surprised everyone with Darwinia, has returned with another original and successful title – Defcon. Darwinia received numerous awards and praises from players and reviewers around the world for its originality and concept and Defcon closely follows this proven recipe, giving us an apocalyptic view of what might represent a nuclear holocaust.
When we hear about “Defcon”, we tend to think about the United States of America and its security levels. A Defcon level is being raised when there is an imminent threat against the USA, with the alert being made up of five levels. The last Defcon level means that the country is in maximum alert status and the nuclear vectors are being armed and ready to be launched. Fortunately for mankind, Defcon 1 level has never been reached. Yet.
Besides the name and several elements from the US military doctrine, Defcon also borrows elements from a movie called Wargames, which was released in 1983. The movie treated the subject of nuclear war a bit differently, in that there are no winners from such a confrontation, only factions that lose more or less than the other combatants.
Based on these sources, Introversion Software created a game that is basically made up of a world map (which also acts as an interface) without any terrain or fancy graphics – just the military and nuclear vectors are shown. And as you’ve probably already guessed, the game takes place during the Cold War; The Berlin Wall hasn’t fallen and of course, the Soviet Union continues to be the “Empire of Evil”, ready to blow its adversaries to kingdom come.
In short, Defcon is a real-time strategy game… actually, more of a “real-time tactics game”, as there’s no economic aspect. We only have access to the tools (nuclear vectors) that make the confrontation as total as it gets. As I said earlier, there is a world-map interface on which we have access to the most important regions in the world as playable factions: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the USSR.
A new game begins by taking control over one of these geographical zones, in which you will organize your armed forces and defenses. Take note that the real purpose of the game is not to decimate your enemy’s troops with nuclear strikes, but instead to destroy as many enemy cities as you can. You’ll have to start with the tutorial, which is a very well designed and will teach you everything you need to know in order to control the nuclear strikes over the enemy.
The action starts on a high note at Defcon 5 – this is where you have to place radar stations in strategic positions in order to be able to detect the enemy troops and the nukes that will come towards you later on. On Defcon 4 you have to build your aerial and naval bases. Defcon 3 will see you deal with reconnaissance for the air and naval forces. Defcon 2 continues with the reconnaissance from Defcon 3 and you can even engage enemy aircrafts or naval units, if you find them near your borders. Total chaos starts when Defcon 1 is triggered, in which nuclear devastation is imminent and all the nuclear vectors (bombers, silos and subs) are just waiting for the “Go” code. Defcon 1 lasts until a certain point, in which all the nuclear vectors from all sides have been unleashed and will finish with a pretty big death toll, on all sides.