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Have You Played... Defcon?

All the fun of global thermonuclear war?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Ohh no, I can't play Defcon [official site]. Not any more. I had a few fun lunchbreaks playing Introversion's slimline strategy game with co-workers but no, I think I'm done with global thermonuclear war. I think the coughing got to me.

So then, we're all going to die! Almost all of us, anyway. With nuclear armageddon inevitable, Defcon stages set to tick down at fixed intervals whether we want them to or not, you'd better prepare. It all plays out from the cold, detached view of a war room world map.

Defcon 5. Maybe start building bases, plopping down radar facilities, airbases, and nuclear missile silos. Your ships and submarines can freely roam the world so hey, get out there and meet people. What a lovely day to be alive!

Defcon 4 ticks over after a few minutes. Oh. No, that's fine. Sure, your radar is keeping a close eye on everyone now but isn't it nice to know where your friends are? You might want to declare someone your BFF, just in case, someone who'd never betray you.

Defcon 3 and away we go! Air forces and navies start scrapping but hey, it's just a bit of roughhousing. We can get past this, can't we?

Defcon 2 and ha ha c'mon gang, surely we can set aside our differences and...

Defcon 1. The silos open, bombers take off, and submarines surface. Hopefully you've hunted down their subs and have interceptors jets ready but... you're going to get hit, and many people will die. Megadeath after megadeath is reported. The music goes awfully somber. After the initial salvos, you try to eke out your remaining warheads and strike carefully. You're all losing, but you can still make them lose more. The spluttering coughing of nuclear fallout starts.

I suppose players could decide not to launch. They could let the world live in peace - awfully tense peace, but peace none the less. But you will launch. You always do. I know you. Don't think I don't. When Defcon 1 hits, I'll be mashing that big red button because I know you'll do it too.

(Thankfully, several times real people with real big red buttons - please don't spoil the Hollywood dream for me - have proven themselves more responsible than I.)

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About the Author
Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.

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