In WG, you are put in command of small NORAD or WOPR troops that you must wisely deploy to destroy the opposing army. They start you off simple: jeeps, small tanks, things like that, but as you progress, you will get to man slayer tanks, battleships, and air vehicles. Most of the vehicles use primary weapons (supplied with unlimited ammunition) such as machine guns or small rockets, and then have special weapons (limited is use) such as bombs and big rockets. Each has its own special skills that you will have to use accurately to pass all of your mission objectives. For example, if you are told to take out a bridge, you must get all of your units to the other side, and then have your jeep call up an airstrike to send it to oblivion. Destroying everything wont always win your way to the end, however, so study your objectives well.
WG is somewhat lacking in graphics, but it is far from unbearable. The landscapes look a bit too manufactured (and some laughable collision detection, especially near bridges plagues the game often), and some of the vehicle designs are dull and uninspired. However, the explosions look pretty good, and the animation is really smooth, making the graphics very solid and strong. There are some FMV scenes every couple of missions, but they really are not anything to get hyped up about, as they are very short and fairly pointless.
Musically, WG excels and falls short, and at the same time, and for the same reasons. First of all, WG has a solid soundtrack, or so it seems at first. Heroic, energetic, "Rocky" type music heats up the action and really makes you feel involved in the war. But then you realize that there are four, maybe five tunes in the entire game, and it gets old very fast. The sound effects themselves are very good though, as each explosion makes a solid thump (and a rumble on the Dual Shock), and the voices are pretty clear.
Control in Defcon 1 comes as second nature for the average gamer. The action is nice and easy to involve yourself in, and most of the time, the objectives are imaginative and fun. The game controls even more beautifully with the analog controller, even though you don't really need the precise movements (it is just a nice touch), as you do not have to worry about falling off a bridge or anything like that. Shooting things is a breeze, and most of the vehicles control very comfortably. Most of them. I really found the air vehicles (planes and the like) to control horribly lame. You cannot control your altitude, only your direction. This makes for a very difficult gaming experience, as you try to get far enough back or forward to shoot any given enemy, and unfortunately, most air vehicles have a little collision detection problem that leaves some of your more important shots at the mercy of the game.
One of the most welcome features of WG is the highly playable two player split screen mode. Grab a sibling and take them on in a tank death match, or team up with a friend against the human race. It makes the difficulty a bit harder (you share the same units), but with a lot of cooperation and team work, the co-op mode is very fun and the split screen is diligently formatted. It does slow up the speed a few notches, but two players is always less lonely than one.
Overall, I really liked War Games. It provided a weekend challenge, and I am sure to go back to it again. 15 missions is a very easy task (it is a one nighter for good gamers), but remember, after you take out the machines as NORAD, you have 15 missions to go with the other side. Rent this baby, and if it hooks you, buy it!
Andrew the Game Master