Remember the awesome movie Wargames, the nuclear war computer game where "the only winning move is not to play"? Someone finally had the clever idea to make a real game like that.
A lot of games that simulate global warfare tend to be heavily strategic, and thus very turn-based and stat heavy. I wanted something that looked like the movie, with vector-lined Soviet subs closing in on the coastline.
Defcon, by Darwinia creators Introversion Software, is at its core a stripped down RTS. You deploy your missile silos, navy fleets, and airbases. Then you have a brief naval and air battle followed by flinging lots of nukes at your enemy. Then it's all over and whoever has the most megakills wins.
But to be honest, the gameplay itself is not that great. It's slow, strategic options are limited, there's a lot of luck. The reason to play this game is that it's beautiful.
The intention was always to capture the feeling of senseless Armageddon and the claustrophobia of being buried deep underground, trying to win a war that simply cannot be won. Defcon was always meant to be an experiment in the creation of a mood. We wanted to see if we could evoke that vast and terrible detached feeling of genocidal mania.
—Chris Delay, in Dec 2006 Game Developer Magazine
The graphics are abstract and detached. The soundtrack is amazing with ambient creepy angels overdubbed on top of sounds of people coughing. The slow pace of the game increases the horror; launch your nukes at Paris and London and Berlin, then wait five minutes for them to hit. There's even a mode where the game is played over six hours in the background, while you're busy doing something else. How creepy is that?

The demo is 60 megs and will let you sample the ambience. If you like it, the full version is $17.50.

  2006-12-17 21:44 Z