This week its a cheerful old screenshot from a game called DEFCON.
I’ve had DEFCON for ages, and I mentioned I’d been playing it in a post pretty much exactly a year ago. It seems like I boot up DEFCON annually, just to remind myself of this cult classic.
I booted it up for my annual reminder a week or so ago, and here’s a screenshot from that play. I set up a game with 6 players. There was me (North America) and my ally (South America) in a three way versus against two blocks of Europe + Africa and the Soviet Union + Asia. A very crude and adjusted representation of the real Cold War – which is what DEFCON’s really getting at.
I sat there and waiting on the countdown to Armageddon as the DEFCON numbers rose and conflicts started escalating, those nuclear arsenals began their fuelling sequences. In a brutal 5 minutes of gameplay once we hit DEFCON 1 and the nukes were unleashed the teams laid waste to the planet in the name of ‘victory’.
This screenshot’s in the last few seconds, as my submarines hidden off the coast of South East Asia unleash their payloads of nukes, obliterating the pretty much defenceless mega-cities of Japan and China. Honestly, in this match that was about I had going for me. My South American ally got obliterated when they fired off their missiles too early against Africa’s western border – where they seemed to have all their anti-missile batteries. It was an uphill fight for us from there really.
My spamming of the coasts of Japan and China was just the icing on the cake of the total defeat of the Soviet Union and Asia though, with just a few of their cities having any survivors at all. The unlikely winners were Europe and Africa, with Africa in particular coming off with hardly any casualties.
Every game of DEFCON is a different one, and yet not at the same time. Over half of the world’s 7 billion people were dead. The world that was left for those few survivors was ravaged by the high radiation of the hundreds of nukes that had been fired in the exchanges. Was the world the ‘winners’ had won control over really one you’d even want to live on? If you ask me, that isn’t a victory at all.
DEFCON’s a game that makes you think for all it’s fun clinical depiction of megalomaniacal destruction. I’ll always recommend it!
Since my last post, explaining why I decided to uninstall Wargame: Red Dragon despite and perhaps even slightly because I had been spending hours on it fruitlessly, I have been busy! So I am long overdue an update to the followers of all things Digital Salad.
Guild Wars 2
The first thing I need to update is Guild Wars 2. I had promised myself that the patch on May 20th would be make or break. I’ve hardly touched the game since I hit level 80 on my final alt, I’ve had no drive to play it at all.
After the end of the Living Story there hasn’t been much content released at all, most likely because the developers at Arena Net have been focusing on their big release in China. Its a big market that they want to make a big splash in, that’s perfectly understandable. That said, it almost feels as if they’d like to replace the original player base with the new Chinese market.
Besides the lack of new content, the second World Versus World tournament season is nearing its end. In the EU, my server, Seafarer’s Rest has won with a little over a week left to go. There’s no way that any other server can match the straight winning score that Seafarer’s has managed to chalk up.
The thing is, this season has been incredibly dull. I loved playing last season and had some fantastic experiences despite our abysmal performance that time around. This time, its been more of a repetitive zerg train for weeks and weeks, and that’s just not dragged me back into the game the way I thought it would. I’ll probably log back in for the achievement chest on May 30th at the end of the season, and that’ll be it.
The latest patch to GW2, a re-release of the Queen’s Gauntlet and Zephyr Sanctum are both releases I did pretty much to death the first time round. Sadly, as well, many of the best aspects of these releases the first time round have been viciously nerfed, so much so that the potentially heaving Queen’s Gauntlet – an experience I loved first time round – is already pretty much deserted for most players most of the time.
Frankly, I will stand by the promise I made to myself a few weeks ago. This is make or break time for GW2, and its looking like it’ll be coming off my computer sometime in the near future. I will log in on May 30th for the WvW season chest, and that will be the day I make the decision. Will GW2 win me back? It will definitely be difficult to leave my Salads behind.
Hearthstone is still creating a bit of a buzz, so I thought I would check it out and see what the fuss was all about.
I downloaded and installed the game (surprisingly fast actually) and instantly saw why so many have fallen for the game so much. It is a really beautifully made game with a lot of care and attention going into its design. Add to that the, these days pretty novel, card style of play and you have a real recipe for success from Blizzard.
I love the game, but at the same time I’ve been really struggling with it. I know its just me, but I can’t get a deck to work on any of the professions. I’ve had some invaluable help from friends with building my deck, but I’m still not mastering what I’m finding a pretty steep learning curve of how I actually need to play that deck.
I can’t fault the game for that for one second; it is fantastic and many players probably get into far easier than I do. It’s just denting my enthusiasm for it a little. I also feel that the decks aren’t quite as flexible as I would like, with a little more viable build variety being a definitely area that I would like to see Blizzard work on. Otherwise, Hearthstone is definitely a really great game, I’d probably say one of the best of 2014 so far, and amazingly free to play!
Recently, fantastic flatmate CakeBoxFox was bought a copy of Diablo 3 for the Xbox 360 and we’ve been playing it co-op as a duo a fair amount for the past week or so.
We are definitely a bit behind the times with Diablo 3 but we had been prevaricating over whether to buy it or not for a while. Being bought it was the perfect kick start we needed; and we’ve been loving it!
I cannot recommend Diablo 3 enough. I’ve been playing as a very aggressive style Monk, with Fox supporting me with a back line minion master Witch Doctor. Together we’re a pretty unstoppable force – so far at least! I definitely enjoy the teleporting mayhem that ensues in a fight as a Monk, and I know that Fox is enjoying the Witch Doctor very much as well. Diablo 3 definitely seems to cater for all profession preferences and play styles.
Most of all, besides the fantastic sofa co-op, something so sadly lacking from so many modern video games, Diablo 3 is the perfect RPG for both Fox and I. The setting is good, with a nicely rendered top down view, but most of all its the mobs that make Diablo 3 a winner for me. Diablo 3 has good bosses that challenge you as well as huge mobs to make the Dynasty Warriors series proud; a perfect balance which is incredibly satisfying when you triumph over everything a dungeon throws at you!
The story of Diablo 3 is nothing special, but well done. Its enough to carry the game, and its the gameplay which makes it really shine out – and that’s the main reason I recommend it so highly.
Sorry for the capitals, but that’s how the game is spelt and illustrates a simplistic brutality at the very heart of this classic indie gaming offering.
I’ve had DEFCON for quite a few years, but only recently got back in to it. The game is essentially the screenshot above. You are randomly assigned a zone on a stylish 1980s wargaming style world map, asked to place your nuclear silos and anti-missile batteries – then you wait as the clock ticks down to nuclear armageddon.
DEFCON is amazing, not only as a game but as a social statement. You can honestly have great fun, as strange as that may seem, triumphing over all in the nuclear exchange that inevitable happens in every DEFCON match – a brutally short 5 minutes or so usually. The gameplay is fast, simple and effective – all of which feed in to its brilliance.
You sit there, potentially as the victor, having killed billions around the world. It doesn’t matter though the game shouts to you; you killed more of the enemy than your people!
Then it shows you the statistics, and makes you sit and look at the destroyed cities of your homeland. Moscow may well be leveled, but London and Washington are too. Your people are dead, while you sit comfortably in your Cold War bunker directing it all on your retro computer monitor. This is how real nuclear war plays out, on a screen in a bunker somewhere detached from the reality of what “1 million dead in Moscow” means.
As far as social statements go, and political ones too, I don’t think they come stronger in video gaming format than DEFCON. It doesn’t ram any message down your throat – it just shows you exactly what nuclear warfare is in stark brilliance.
There are no winners in nuclear war as they like to say, and you really realise how much that is true with DEFCON. The game feels brutal, and that’s because it is. That’s it main theme, clinical brutality – exactly what nuclear warfare is. It feels wrong, it feels horrible and that is the really important message that DEFCON makes.
Play DEFCON, I really do recommend it. Not only is it a really well made game, but for the important message it makes it is worth the download (the trial version you can get for free off their website is essentially the full version, so just get that for free!).
Quite a long post updating you on what I’ve been up to gaming-wise recently there, from the ups of DEFCON and Diablo and the downs of GW2 and Wargame: Red Dragon. All sorts of other exciting things have been going on as well which would be far too much to include here, so I hope to update you on other happenings soon!