Sneek Peek of the latest DEFCON Beta

Posted Apr 6 2007, 12:00 AM


 You sit in your less than comfy chair, idly filling the hours at work. The desk is cluttered with papers, pens, old coffee cups and random stickies informing you of items to get before returning home tonight. The glare of the computer screen has made your eyes tired, and your arms feel numb from the constant tapping of the keys. As you think about making yet another stroll to the water cooler to take a break, you hear a ringing. Realizing that this ringing is coming from beneath the pile of TPS reports, flow charts, and yellow tabs of paper haphazardly tossed across the desk. Pushing the slovenly buildup of work remnants aside you pull your cell phone free. On the screen it flashes the name "Unknown Caller"... Wondering who it might be you press the connect button and the ringing is cut short as you horsely ask who this is. The response is a deep foggy voice, a mechanical one stating it has the information you have been searching for. Information from sources you never realized could be hacked. A promise to end the boring evenings with hopes of something for the future. This mysterious figure harkens back to the cold war days, when all information was passed not by internet cables, but by men meeting in dark alleys and old dirt roads.   
The deep voice of the speaker says this to you: "A new beta is coming, Ambrosia doesn't want you to know about it yet. But, I can offer what the future holds for games and utilities. Answer this now. Do you want it?"  
While all the other Ambrosia crew members are busily filling their day with work, the Ambrosia PR Guru, John "MagnusApollo" Champlin has taken it upon himself to sneak out some news from the inner sanctum of the Ambrosia Offices. He has become the proverbial man inside, the mysterious figure in the shadows all for the benefit of the Ambrosia Fans.   
If you look back at all the great games that Ambrosia has offered, you will see a certain trend. Nothing overly bloody, generally a good happy game, where you might have to kill off some cartoon-style bad guys to progress... Nothing that seems as though you would be nervous showing grandma should she walk up behind you during game play. Well, the new game coming out from Ambrosia is very much the same... Except that you are annihilating most of the human population by lobbing Nuclear (nuclur?) warheads like a person throwing ping-pong balls at a fair trying to win a goldfish. Yes, that's right, when Ambrosia decides to have a game where you are going to be killing people, we don't go for the bland ol' first person shooter.... Nooo no no, my friend. Ambrosia goes all out.  
This is a first hands-on look at the elegantly simple, beautiful, and highly destructive game: DEFCON.  
If you are a person that sits for ages with friends trying to strategically organize your fleets, troops, and other weapons of war in games like Risk, or my personal favorite Axis and Allies, then you are going to love this game. Though, you have to keep on your toes as DEFCON is a fast paced melee that has you at the edge of your seat from the moment the game starts. 



You play the role of a military Commander hidden deep within an Underground bunker. Your mission - to successfully exterminate your enemy's civilian population whilst disabling their ability to attack your own. Pretty much, kill as many folks as you can, and try not to loose any of your own.



The game has a built in tutorial, something I'm thankful for. As the first time playing it I simply threw caution to the wind and attempted to figure it out on the fly. This of course ended with me with zero defense, no offensive fleets, and a lot of dead bodies to bury. After learning how to control my fleet, tricks to using my forces at my command, was ready to really sink my teeth into it.
You and 5 other players are able to divide up the globe for battle. You can join forces or play all against each other, and with a bit of added fun, you can join forces without some of your enemies realizing this. Once the players are there, and you have decided the locations on the globe you will play, it's ready to roll. 
DEFCON 5, 4, 3, 2, 1! Defense Conditions are what keep this game moving, and what keeps it from ending to quickly. Thanks to this countdown system, each player gets a chance to place their units and get things set, and makes for interesting stages of game play, inevitably moving towards total annihilation.  



Use your planes and fleets to move in close to the enemy territory to learn where their ICBM launch sites are, to scope out the enemies. fly your bombers and fighters in to destroy air bases, radar arrays, and air defense. Once your path is clear, it's time for the nuclear rain. Some points of the game might be a bit slow, like when your fleets are moving. But, the developers thought of this.. as you can speed up game play. Moving 4 times the rate before might get your ships around the cape of good hope faster, but it also means that those 10 nukes on their way into the heartland, are also moving 4 times as fast.



Visually this game is captivating in the simplistic way it shows the globe, the country borders, even the ships, and others weapons of war are so crisp that I found myself staring at the screen quite often forgetting I should be destroying humanity. If you want to sit back and watch the AIs have a go and making a mess of the place, I suggest clicking on the "Rolling Demo" and watch as war rages across earth in brightly colored lines and flashes. Add to that a sound track and music score that fits the mood so well, that Hollywood couldn't do better.
Who knew Armageddon could be so fun?! 

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