WarGames: Defcon 1 Review

Dabney Coleman may be nowhere to be found here, but once you get past this slight oversight, you'll discover a great shooter.

When I first heard that MGM Interactive had a WarGames-related game in the works, I was totally excited. I wanted to take control of Matthew Broderick and hack into NORAD on a TRS-80. I wanted to ride around on the back of Ally Sheedy's moped as she carted me from school to home. I wanted to push a button that made the guy in the missile silo pull out a pistol and shout "Turn your key, sir!" Alas, this game has none of that. It is, however, an outstanding mission-based shooter. Think EA's Strike series, but with lots of different units.

Each of the game's 30 missions (15 as NORAD, 15 as WOPR) gives you a collection of units ranging from lightly armored jeeps to monstrous tanks, helicopters, and jets, and points you at stuff that you need to blow up. You control each unit one at a time, with the ability to switch between them at will. You do have the ability to call units to your location, giving the other units AI control, but the AI is so terrible that your units will have a hard time crossing a bridge, let alone fighting the enemy. Playing the game is quite simple. You just take a tank and start towards your next objective. Shoot anything that gets in your way, taking care to back up to dodge enemy fire. This, coupled with the fact that most of your units can take loads of damage, and that it's extremely easy to replenish your units, makes WarGames pretty darn easy. Two-player mode puts the game in a diagonal split-screen and has both head-to-head and cooperative modes.

Graphically, WarGames looks really good. All the structures and units (with the possible exception of the miniscule infantry) look very nice, and the terrain is well drawn. The terrain is also damaged during firefights, resulting in forest fires and other environmental chaos. The soundtrack is very military and drives the point of the game home. The effects are very nice, and the text scroll noise is directly from the old movie. The voice of Joshua also makes a small appearance at the title screen.

While WarGames: Defcon 1 may not have allowed me to relive one of my favorite films, it is still a solid game with a fairly good back story. Dabney Coleman may be nowhere to be found here, but once you get past this slight oversight (all games should feature at least one picture of Dabney), you'll discover a great shooter.

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Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.
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