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Real-time Strategy in a Haunting Setting
DEFCON, given the caliber of the theme, is surprisingly simple and subtle even when, as the title states, everyone dies. The overall appearance of the game is setup for anyone to get into quickly and does not waste any time with fancy graphics or massive detail.
The entire premise of the game takes place in a war room style map of the world. The rules of engagement are based on the level of DEFCON that has been reached. At the initial start of battle, DEFCON 5 is in place, and commanders setup their ground defenses, air bases, and radar. Missile silos act as a defense against incoming nuclear attacks as well as being used to launch ICBM's against the opponent. Radar is used to detect enemy units or missiles within a limited range of the player's territory. Air force bases can launch fighter jets to intercept incoming jets or missiles and can later launch nuclear equipped bombers.
During the first two stages of DEFCON, naval units can be placed in groups of six off the coast of the country and range between aircraft carriers, submarines, and battleships. Aircraft carriers are naval versions of air bases, and come equipped with jets and bombers. Submarines can attack other naval units and launch short range nukes. Battleships can attack other naval units, as well as aircraft.
Preparations only occur during DEFCON 4 and 5. Once DEFCON 3 is reached, units and defenses can no longer be placed. During DEFCON 3 and 2, air a naval units can attack, but without the use of nuclear arms. Once DEFCON 1 has arrived, all nuclear capabilities are available to all countries. Missile silos, bombers, and submarines can now launch their missiles on other cities or bases. Silos and submarines have a limited number of nukes, but bombers can carry at least one bomb on one pass and can continually reload after returning to the air base or carrier as many times as they want. If the bomber, air base, or carrier is destroyed, they cannot be replaced.
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Tips for Winning the War
Speed is crucial in stage five and four of DEFCON. It is important to set up all defenses before DEFCON 3 when units can no longer be placed. During DEFCON three and two, use naval units to attack any oncoming naval fleets that approach the coast. Each naval fleet can hold up to six units. A good start is to have two groups of three battle ships and three submarines for naval offense and defense, and one fleet of six carriers to approach the enemy coast for impending nuclear bombers at DEFCON 1. Once the enemies naval fleet is confirmed destroyed, only the players units remain and should be brought up to the coastline of the enemy territory.
At DEFCON 1, the first initial strikes should be at the radar facilities to prevent the enemy from seeing incoming units and missiles from far off. After they are taken out, missile silos and air bases are the next target. Both will take a few direct hits to destroy, and will shoot down any missile that approaches by itself. Use a combination of bombers from air bases and carriers along with the submarines to overwhelm the defenses, causing them to crumble. Use ICBM's to assist, if necessary, but remember that each silo only has ten nuclear missiles.
Once all bases are destroyed, the opponent will have no defense, and the player can launch all nukes at each enemy city, causing destruction until the target goal has been reached and the mission ends.
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Quality Game at an Excellent Price
For a game that hasn’t been out two years, DEFCON surprisingly reached bargain bins of few retail stores rather fast. Originally, the game retailed for $29.99, which wasn't a bad number. Today, it can be downloaded directly from Introversion's web site for $17.50, though some stores sell the game for less than ten dollars. If an RTS fan does stumble across DEFCON in a box of discounted games, they should buy it and take it home. Chances are that they will like it, and even if they don't, it’s not big loss of cash.