It's late at night, and you've had too much beer and double-cheese pizza. Flipping the channels on your trusty TV you happen across the old James Bond flick Never Say Never Again. As a gamer, you watch with interest the scene where Bond battles the villain in a video game. Wouldn't that game rock if it was real? Well, the electrical shocks might be hard to create, but you can always spill beer onto your Intensor chair. And what if you combined it with Missile Command, that classic arcade game that had Reagan '80s stamped all over it? Why stop there? Why not add a dash of Risk, everyone's favorite "conquer the world without learning a million pages of rules" game? Then you are hit by a moment of clarity. Who the heck would pay $50 for an updated Missile Command? The brilliant game idea now fades and you resume channel surfing.
Sadly the folks at Psygnosis never had that moment of clarity. Instead, they did decide that a game combining the Bond game, Missile Command, and Risk would be fun. So some designers spent a good portion of their time on a game called Global Domination; hopefully not many gamers will do the same.
Thankfully the game plays straight off the CD so you don't have to soil your hard drive with more than a tiny footprint. In the future, the world has been reduced to chaos (that wacky Y2K bug apparently) with nations slinging missiles with the enthusiasm of jilted lovers on Jerry Springer slinging chairs. Enter you, the player, working for a hush-hush agency called ULTRA. Armed with a supercool name, Phoenix, you are hired by countries to protect them from their evil neighbors.
To do this you're presented with an FMV briefing, which tries to give you a little information about the upcoming mission and present a horrible plot, all at the same time. If you do make the mistake and buy this game, do yourself a favor and don't skip over the beginning video. Your fellow ULTRA members are introduced one at a time, the camera freezing on them while they look solemn, and a subtitle tells who they are. This has to be one of the most hilarious moments in gaming history, right up there with Deer Hunter garnering so many sales.
Once the FMV is over, the actual game begins. Every scenario involves a spinning globe suspended against a funky, dark-aqua background. This is the playfield. The world is divided up into territories as in Risk. A text display gives you your scenario objectives and helpful hints. Strangely, the hints aren't really hints but important pieces of information that are usually not covered in the flimsy manual. Almost every mission revolves around two things: defending some territory and then smacking around another territory or territories.
Your weapons of mass destruction include various types of missiles, aircraft, and naval vessels. Control is pretty straightforward. A targeting reticle is moved by your mouse. You can cycle through the various weapons using your keyboard, and the mouse buttons launch either an offensive or defensive weapon, depending on what button you click. The higher you progress in the game, the more powerful and varied your weapons become.
If you assume that a large number of weapons at your disposal ensures an exciting game, you are sadly mistaken. Defending a territory simply boils down to rapidly clicking your mouse to send up defensive missiles. Just like in Missile Command, when they reach the targeted point they explode and destroy everything in the blast radius. Aircraft can also help destroy incoming aerial threats, and ships can help detect subs. Too bad they're so reliant on your orders. For example, a cruiser (which can detect hidden subs in the vicinity) won't hunt the seas autonomously; it must be told where to go. Once at the spot it will simply sit there. Aircraft are more flexible, sometimes hunting down targets. Actually they're too flexible and will follow targets all over the globe, leaving the territory you're defending wide open. Going on the offensive varies slightly from the defensive. You can zoom in on the territory you're attacking to target specific aspects (an airfield, a missile silo), but once targeted, it's still just a matter of clicking to launch missiles until your finger hurts.
As mentioned earlier, the manual is fairly poor - it manages to explain everything you don't really care about, while skimming over the important information. The first few missions will be spent simply trying to figure out exactly how to play the game and what all the symbols and graphs mean. Even after you think you've gotten the hang of the game, something new is introduced, with no explanation of how it's supposed to work. After several replays, if you're lucky you'll manage to actually figure out how this new facet operates.
Global Domination is limited to 20 missions, a mutliplayer option, and an option to create your own conflicts (allocating territories and weapons to sides). All 20 missions are pretty much the same: Missile Command with a spinning globe and a few more toys. Fail a mission and you have to replay it until you get it right. Expect to fail quite a few missions thanks to the horrible documentation. The idea of a global game where you control nuclear stockpiles and conquer the world is an intriguing one and has been done correctly in a board game called Supremacy. Global Domination is by no means intriguing unless you enjoy a confusing, half-baked Missile Command, with FMV and a $50 price tag.