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|A.P.I Review:||WARGAMES: Defcon 1|
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|Distributor:||MGM Interactive||1-2 Player|
|Game Type:||Action / Strategy||Password Save|
|Review Date:||July 1998||Dual Shock & Analog Compatible|
Setting the Scene
"Shall we play a game"? For those of you that have seen the movie WarGames, you know those few simple words had such a profound yet innocent meaning when uttered by the WOPR computer. The WOPR, or Joshua as it was fondly named, was a super computer used by the US government for simulated training games and overall management of Government operations. One of the more "volatile"" areas of its responsibility was the computer control systems of the governments nuclear missiles. Well one day a hacker accidentally breaks into Joshua and thinking that Global Thermonuclear War is just a cutting edge game, decides to play it. Before you know it, Joshua is running internal programs to crack the missile codes so he can initiate a real launch! The computer is stopped just in time, but the movie leaves you with the question "could this happen again"? Wargames: Defcon 1 takes place 20 years after the movie in a world that wasn't fortunate enough to stop the computer from trying to take over. It's up to you to either play as NORAD and try to stop the computer or play as the WOPR and carry out what it believes is just an exercise in trying to save humanity from harming themselves. So with all that, "Shall we review the game"....
WarGames: Defcon 1 is a splendid combination of action packed fun and strategy laden elements. The game is played out in real time, so you best be ready to mobilize your troops and swing them into action at a moments notice!
I thought the graphics were pretty well done in WarGames. Nothing earth shattering, but completely functional for this type of game. The entire world you traverse in WarGames is made up of nicely detailed, texture mapped polygons. The view shifts nicely around you as you move along in your mission, but unfortunately there is quite a bit of pop-up in the over the shoulder mode. I didn't find it at all annoying or detracting from the gameplay, just noticeable. In the one-player mode everything moves along at a reasonable clip with no slowdown, even in a heavily populated screen. Two-player mode suffers occasional frame rate hits when there is a lot going on in the screen at once such as multiple explosions with lots of enemies moving about at the same time. Explosions and other special effects are nicely rendered. Destroying vehicles creates some good particle effects but the real treat is taking out a tower or main command facility... it looks kinda like when they blow the old buildings up to make way for new construction, everything implodes convincingly. One other really nice effect occurs in two-player mode. If your friend arrives at the action scene well ahead of you, you can see the puffs of smoke billowing over the horizon from the ensuing battle. The weather effects in the game are top notch. The rain pours down and creates little splashes as it hits the ground and the snow buffets around you and the landscape quite convincingly. The opening CG intro is nicely done and pretty funny to watch. I don't want to spoil it for you, but I will say that it doesn't contain cutting edge graphics!
Sounds and Effects
The music is nicely varied and presented in this title. You are treated to the majestic military style music that successfully inflicts a good amount of drama and tension to the game. Each mission appears to have it's own score that fits the scenarios like a glove. This is probably not a game that you will want to turn the music down on. Sound effects are right on the mark as well. You get a nice subdued "splat" sound when you waste one of the foot soldiers. Other sounds are also nicely executed like the cannon fire on your tanks, the low bass rumble of an incoming supply 'copter and hefty explosions for taking out command centers. Yep, you'll probably want to keep the sound effects turned up as well. We are also treated to some nifty voice-overs. During battle, commands are issued and verbally relayed in human voices or mechanical voices depending on whom you are playing as. It all sounds like you are hearing it through a cheap headset (scratchy and off somewhat in the distance), which I guess is pretty much how it should sound in the middle of action. The clincher is the wonderfully digitized voice of Joshua greeting you at the opening menu with "Shall we play a game?" What the heck, leave the voice setting cranked up too!
WarGames: Defcon 1 plays a heck of a lot like the classic Return Fire on steroids. You are thrown into a real-time combat situation where you get to take control of the vehicles and drive them to various locales and wreck havoc. Starting up the game you get to select which side you would like to represent; NORAD or WOPR. You can also choose a split screen two-player cooperative mode or two-player deathmatch. Bringing up a one-player game for the first time, you are forced to start at mission one. Since all of the missions are linear, you have to complete each one in order before advancing to the next one (unless you have the passwords!). The missions ramp up the difficulty level perfectly with mission one being more of a training mission to get used to controlling your vehicles and the logistics of the game itself. Each successive mission gets progressively more difficult with increasingly complex sub-missions. This works just fine, because it would be no fun to just breeze through 30 odd missions in one sitting now would it? After completing each mission you are given a password for the next mission. The password is issued in a tic tac toe configuration that I found to be most fitting. You get a choice of two views, one over the shoulder cam and the other one a zoomed out view that makes it feel like your looking through a pair of binoculars that have been turned the wrong way. Included in your viewing area is a small radar screen that depicts a satellite view of the terrain. Inside the radar screen are oscillating circles that form around the areas that you need to attack to complete each sub mission. There is also a nice little compass that encircles this screen that is mysteriously absent from the two-player game. Too bad. If you select NORAD you have a choice of controlling jeeps, multiple kinds of tanks (some really heavy-duty tanks), soldier deployment trucks and aircraft to name a few. Playing as WOPR you get to control an assortment of machines like the airborne Phoenix to the walkers that strongly resemble the ones from the Star Wars movies. Firepower and armor vary from vehicle to vehicle, as does the speed at which they can travel. There are lots of trade-offs in the game that form the nucleus of the strategy elements. It's imperative that you select the proper vehicles at the right times or you will not complete your mission. During battle you can hack into a command center to contact supply 'copters to bring much needed repairs, call in support units, switch vehicles, call in air-strikes and send vehicles back to base for restoration. Which brings me to my biggest complaint of the game. Player AI sucks. Sending a vehicle back to base is often an exercise in futility as the jeep or tank or whatever it is you are sending back is constantly running into trees, hills, buildings, whatever and getting stuck. Aircraft don't seem to have this problem, but ground-based vehicles must be constantly "nudged" in the right direction or helped to get them around a sand dune. Errrrr. Also, if you call in a unit and if you get lucky and they actually make it to your location in time they usually end up getting squashed like bugs in short order. If a little more time had been spent on this portion of the game it would have all the bases covered nicely unfortunately as it stands, it's flawed. What makes it even stranger is that the enemy AI is pretty damn good! Go figure... Enough of my bitching though, once you get past this idiosyncrasy the game is loads of fun to play both alone and with a friend. The action is fast and ferocious as you try to complete the mission before the timer counts down to Defcon 1. Very intense and very enjoyable! Oh, in two-player mode the screen splits diagonally. I just thought I would mention that because it is quite unique and it works extremely well. The dual shock feature is also implemented very nicely here. Enjoy!
Value for Money
The game offers you 30 single player missions, the same 30 missions in a two player cooperative mode and finally 45 variations of deathmatch games to play against an opponent. You can play as NORAD or WOPR troops and there is a generous selection of vehicles for each side. Overall it works out nicely to give you some good value for your money. The only problem is that you may not rush back to the game after you have completed all of the missions... but that will take a while to do so!
really got totally absorbed in WarGames: Defcon 1. The variety of
missions and scenarios were very well done and held my interest
throughout. The graphics are fine and the sound effects and music
I really liked the idea of actually being able to drive around and control the vehicles instead of just issuing commands to place them in selected spots.
The only real downside in the game is the poor player AI. The vehicles that aren't under your direct control tend to wander around aimlessly until you catch up with them and help out.
Overall I would definitely recommend this title as either a solo game or a two-player contest. Its intense, fast action will keep you coming back for more.
game bears more than a passing resemblance to 'Return Fire', not that
there is anything wrong with that, I loved RF and I am glad to see it
updated with new graphics and gameplay. Wargames is a real blast to
play, especially in 2 player co-op mode.
Not since Diablo have I had so much fun cooperating with gaming friends who I spent most of my time kicking the hell out of (fighting games). It's a real breath of fresh air to be able to coordinate a battle and execute a plan in the way that Wargames allows you.
The gameplay is awesome, and as a bonus, the sound and graphics are pretty good too.
I am probably the worlds biggest fan of the Command & Conquer series
I was interested to see how WarGames matched up. Sadly it was - no
Yeah, it looks pretty.
Okay, the sounds are cool.
But the AI of the vehicles sadly lets down the gameplay.
Not only did I constantly have to sweep back over the battlefield to 'mother' my trailing forces - help my aircraft down from being tangled in a tree, lift my tiny jeep over a not very steep sand dune, squeeze my boat back out of the too small entrance of the harbor... - but on 'oh too many' occasions, the vehicle I was controlling became completely jammed into the side of the map.
The really sad thing about the lack of AI within your team is that the enemies AI is fantastic. Shame!
Having just completed a lengthy two player split-screen series of war games I comment as such:
Two player Cooperative is much more fun to play than a single player game. The idea that you can plan an attack and charge in at two different angles in far more realistic than the 'one vehicle at a time' single player mode. Unfortunately the missions are far too easy to complete when you double up your attack.
Two player Deathmatch is slightly less fun because the playing areas seem a little too small and it quickly becomes an endless stalemate game of 'While you grab my flare, I'll grab yours'. It would probably have been a far better idea to leave out the radar screen for this mode of play, thus allowing you to stumble upon your opponents camp instead of heading there directly.
WarGames just makes me more exited at the prospect of C&C Retaliation looming on the horizon.