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Mac Game Review: DEFCON

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Have you seen the trailers for the latest Will Smith movie? The one where he’s the last surviving human on the planet? When you sit down and fire up Ambrosia Software’s DEFCON – you’ll come to understand that such a survival rate is unacceptable.

Inspired by the 1983 cult-classic film “Wargames,” DEFCON is an amazing online multi-player simulation of global thermonuclear war. Playing the role of a military Commander hidden deep within an underground bunker, your mission is nothing short of exterminating any and all “enemy” civilian population while at the same time destroying their ability to do the same to your own.

Sound fun? Well, it is – in a weird way. Maybe that’s just me feeling guilty for having fun while millions of innocent electronic people die horrible radiated deaths for my amusement. Ah, heck with that, war’s supposed to be brutal!

Game play begins with taking time to set the conditions of the impending war. There are six superpowers fighting for global domination (Asia, Russia, North America, South America, Europe and Africa) that players get to chose from, with the remaining superpowers being given over to CPU control or even left out of the game completely, should players want an intimate war.

Once sides and players are chosen the game begins at DEFCON 5, which is basically the calm before the irradiated storm. Players are set to lay out defensive strategies and build up offensive forces until the ever-marching counter reaches DEFCON 3 – that’s where the electronic gloves come off.

Using a combination of air, sea and land-based (silos, mainly) players are pretty much immediately consumed with the dual tasks of protecting their own citizenry as much as is possible while determinedly working towards the complete elimination of anyone else. Luckily, thanks to smart tutorial missions, the commands needed to perform such maneuvers are easily accomplished. Coming up with the strategy with which to use those commands, though, is not so easy.

As if anyone could keep a cool head and methodically move forward with any plans once DEFCON 1 rolls around, you see nothing but incoming chaos and nuclear devastation. Despite the fact that you undeniable know that you’re playing a game and have no real stains of guilt on your conscious for allowing your “people” to die – DEFCON manages to bring you immediately into the emotions of the situation and make you very aware of the ethical ramifications of nuclear war in the real-world.

Sure it’s fun to blow everyone up – but then you realize that you are part of that “everyone” should such a horrible thing ever come to pass. How often is it that a video game allows you to have both a visceral response of pleasure from playing it as well as the mental challenge of having to think things through on a broader level?

In the end, DEFCON is a game I would heartily recommend to anyone interested in a simple game of war. It may seem like a virtual game of Risk, in which there are no winners, but the fact that such entertainment can be found for such a reasonable price and come bundled with the added bonus of making its players think above and beyond their expectations – but, what’s wrong with that? All is fair in love and war, and you will love DEFCON.

Or else!

DEFCON gets high praise for online play and thought provoking content. More information and a game play trailer can be found on Ambrosia's website.

DEFCON is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Mild Violence. This game can also be found on: PC.


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