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Monday 25 September 2006

Defcon! [Slim]

We were lucky enough to be blessed with a shower of keys for Defcon this week:
For those that haven't seen it, it's a kind of rts lite based around a strategic world map kind of like what you'd see in War Games and stuff like that.
When I say RTS lite, I mean that theres very few units, and theres no resource collection at all. You're assigned units at the start, and thats all you get. A bunch of silos that can either launch nukes or provide air defense, but not at the same time. Subs that can either launch nukes or take out ships, but not at the same time. Carriers that can either launch planes or take out subs, but again, not at the same time. Oh and fighter and bomber aircraft.
The games timed, so really dont go on for too long. The Defcon level starts at 5 and counts down to each level on a timer. At defcon 5 you can place units and do nowt else. Then defcon 4, radars active. Defcon 3, Can move units and engage boats and aircraft. Defcon2: Not really sure what changes here :) Defcon 1: you can nuke folks.
While you can play vs ai, its primarily a multiplayer game. The networking seems very solid, really easy to join and host games and theres a nice spectator mode too.
Visuals are very distinctive vector style, really striking. It all moves very fast and can look very impressive when things really kick off. Sound is superb, klaxons sound for defcon level changes, stuff like that.
It is flawed a bit. Unit selection is, as ever, a right pain in the tits. Unit movement speed can be a real pain, especially if you fucked up placement. If your fleets are in the wrong ocean, you're never going to be able to move them somewhere useful when the nukes start flying. Gameplay also often comes down to timing, which is fine as it goes, but can make it a bit chicken and egg.
Still, its a tenner, and ace fun. Well worth it.


  1. It's launching on Steam on Friday so you just pay yer tenner and download it, bosh. It's tiny at about 50MB or so, assuming the release is the same thing as the review version we're playing with. Introversion describe themselves as the last of the bedroom coders. The outfit is a little bigger than that but a proper Britsoft outfit that cranks out games like Uplink, Darwinia and Defcon are alright by me. The key thing is these are small games that fit, for me at least, spare time available after everything else. You don't necessarily want every game to be some huge opus that you never finish. So I'm happy Introversion exist but I do have that little niggle that I wish things were a touch more fleshed out.Also when you consider that these things will play on any old shitbox including that laptop with integrated graphics - they're great on the move. Heh, DEFCON from the couch on my 9-foot video projector was dead fun and for once this is a game that doesn't piss about, it understands widescreen and just runs in your desktop resolution from the off.
    I'm hoping some of the niggles, bugs and whatnot will be ironed out in the release version. Ability to turn music off (which is nice for a bit but it's the same soundtrack over and over as with all games you just want to play your MP3s after awhile) would be top of my wish list along with better unit/mode selection (see how many times you move a fleet when you mean to change mode of one of them)). We also found that if you tried to play the 'big world' version with 2 players versus 2 AI it was basically too slow to play right. Which is a shame. In some sense I think the 'big world' mode is how it should have been from the start (although I'd cut down on the number of ships), the regular game mode is just a little too simple for my tastes but then that does may it approachable by people who aren't RTS fans.
    You should definately give it a go. Oh and we noticed it's enhanced no end by having a teamspeak session at the same time. Usually consisting of "Nooooo, not Manchester you bastard!" :-)

  2. DEFCON launches today at 6PM

  3. Figuring that they'd cut development corners and lamenting the fact that despite my request there's still no way to turn off the 'music' and retain the sound efffects, I decided to examine the sounds.dat file. Turns out it's just a RAR file and it has a pile of Ogg Vorbis audio files in it. The first thing I tried was to play them all and then delete the music ones. Surprisingly, there's a huge amount of them for such a limited sound track, all those coughing and crying sounds are seperate samples. I deleted the lot, then repacked the RAR and fired up the game. Rather than gracefully just not playing those sounds, however, the game whinged it couldn't find them and crashed.
    So it seems the only remaining choice is to create some silent samples and replace the existing ones with those. I'm not entirely sure I can be arsed.