June 18th, 2008

And I’m back! I had to skip a week. I ran out of good ideas to show you guys. I have some new things in bag now, though. We’d been wanting to promote Beyond Good & Evil for a while and decided that PseudoKnight is the most passionate about it here, so it’s only appropriate that he do the post. I hope you enjoyed that, and I hope some of you ended up checking out BG&E. It really should not be missed.

Attack or defend? This is the question at the very core of any good combat strategy game, once you look past all the tech trees and resource management, diplomacy and build orders. This week’s featured game from Introversion Software entitled Defcon: Everybody Dies will have you asking yourself this question during every crucial second of gameplay.

Gameplay Basics

Looking like something straight out of 1983′s WarGames, Defcon is a real-time nuclear holocaust simulator where players are tasked with defending their respective continent while also carrying out genocide on enemy factions by means of Naval oceanic, air and ground-to-air warfare. This is accomplished by strategically placing radar stations, missile silos, naval fleets and airbases in places where they’ll be most effective, but only within the area of your countries’ influence. Placement of units occurs during the first of five stages in gameplay, DEFCON 5. I will explain the others as we go along.

Radar stations are placed in areas where they will be able to detect incoming missiles and aircraft as well as reveal enemy territory. They become active during DEFCON 4. Airbases can be placed in areas you’ll want to either defend or attack from as they are equipped with both fighters (for taking out incoming missiles and enemy aircraft) and bombers (for targeting enemy structures and naval fleets). In the sea players can deploy submarines which are equipped with sonar (used to detect enemy submarines and torpedoes) as well as short-range nuclear missiles. Also available are battleships which can attack enemy fleets and aircraft. Equipped with sonar and depth charges, the Carrier is the most powerful weapon available to combat enemy submarines. They are also mobile airbases and can dispatch up to five fighters and five bombers. Once DEFCON 3 has been reached no more units can be placed. Naval fleets can move about and dispatch aircraft, submarines can launch torpedoes, but they cannot initiate nuclear launches until DEFCON 1.

Let’s Blow Stuff Up

Finally, we come to the bread and butter of Defcon, the missile silos. When initially placed they act as SAM sites to defend against enemy missiles and aircraft. Only when DEFCON 1 has been reached can they be armed with nuclear missiles, and even then, it may not be advantageous to arm all of them. A certain number will need to remain as autonomous SAM sites in order to defend against incoming attacks, otherwise your cities and airfields will be left defenseless, except for your fighters. And while you can switch them back and forth between offensive and defensive mode, it does take time to transition. This is the second half of the gameplay in Defcon where strategic thinking and execution comes into play (the first being unit/structure placement).

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Defcon: Everybody Dies is the most expensive game that we have featured here at DoSu so far, coming in at $14.99 if purchased from Steam. It will cost $19.50 if purchased from the official website, so unless you’re using Mac OSX or Linux, I recommend you get it through Steam. New, boxed copies can be purchased from Amazon for $12.99 or less, if you buy from one of their other sellers. There is also a demo available.

Update (03/06/09): Since creating this article, the price for Defcon: Everybody Dies has dropped to $9.99 on Steam.

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