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This page is about a work. If you're looking for the trope, that's Defcon Five."It's Global Thermonuclear War, and nobody wins. But maybe - just maybe - you can lose the least."A unique Real-Time Strategy from Introversion Software, the makers of Uplink, Darwinia, and Multiwinia. You play a general in control of your chosen side's nuclear arsenal, and your goal is to exterminate the enemy's civilian populace while preserving your own. In order to win, you must strike against your enemy's population centers while at the same time crippling their ability to retaliate. Easier said than done since launching a strike reveals the locations of that strategic asset to everyone in the game. The game is inspired by the 1983 cult classic WarGames and designed to simulate the paranoia and anxiety of the Cold War.There are 3 scoring modes in DEFCON:
Default: Score two points for every civilian kill, lose one point for every civilian loss.
Genocide: Score one point for every civilian kill.
Survivor: Score points for every civilian you keep alive. The score counter starts at 100 and decreases for every percentage point your own population falls.
There are also multiple game modes:
Diplomacy: Everyone begins with a perfect score and starts in an alliance. One point is lost for every civilian death.
Office Mode: A bit of a joke by the developers. This will run the normal game without sound in a separate window in real time for six hours. Also has a handy escape function to minimize it "if the boss appears".
Speed DEFCON: Matches run at full speed and last no longer than 15 minutes
Big World: Every player has twice as many units and nukes but each unit has half the size, speed, and range. This is meant to be a long and drawn out campaign style.
Tournament: The regular game rules are enforced except that mutiple rounds are played with the territories randomly assigned to each.
Custom: Make whatever game type you want.
When playing the game, the DEFCON level increases as the game progresses. The level determines what actions can be taken in the game.
Defcon "FADE OUT" 5: Can place units.
Defcon "DOUBLE TAKE" 4: Radar coverage reveals the Fog of War.
Defcon "ROUND HOUSE" 3: Can no longer place units: air and naval conflict permitted.
All There in the Manual: There is a manual available for download off the Introversion website which teaches you the basics of the game. However there are some parts where you might not be sure if it was written by a paranoid or a Cloud Cuckoolander.
It's a reference to the Protect and Survive pamphlets that were planed to be handed out in the UK (along with the tv and radio broadcasts) around the height of the Cold War.
Anachronism Stew: The former Soviet Republics are separate from Russia (and the European ones are a part of a United Europe), but St. Petersburg is named Leningrad in game and East and West Germany are separated by borders (although both are part of said United Europe).
Cosmetically Different Sides: Everyone starts with the same assets and the same population count. Population centers are spread out differently between the continents though.
It's not entirely cosmetic, however, in that some continents are easier to defend than others due to city placement. Europe, for example, has all of its' population centers placed in a relatively tight group, so it's easy to cover them strongly with antimissile defenses. South America, on the other hand, is much more spread out.
Everyone hates Europe, except Russia, because most nukes fired at and from anywhere arc over Europe, allowing European air defences to shoot them all down. Also because so many arc over Europe there is the chance that European air defenses are shooting at missiles not aimed at them allowing the ones that ARE aimed at them to hit.
Dual Mode Unit: Units can be toggled between different modes to fit certain roles. For example, a silo can switch between anti-air mode (where it provides your only defense) and ICBM launch mode. There is a timed delay before a switch takes effect, and the time needed to switch back to anti air as warheads bear down on you can seem very long indeed.
Easy Logistics: Your nuclear stock pile is limited, and your planes have fuel. But that's about it.
Enemy Mine: You can form alliances, just make sure to keep an eye on your "friends".
Fog of War: Radar units and planes reveal the fog of war.
Forming an alliance also reveals everything your allies sees - including their assets (and vice versa).
One World Order: The diplomacy game mode begins like this. And slowly breaks down as nations chip away at each others' population centers to reduce their scores.
Painfully Slow Projectile: Justified in that missiles are slow in relation to the size of the earth, and the parabolic arc they follow is how they'd actually fly to their target* although the game makes no consideration for the actual curvature of the globe, as southern hemisphere launched missiles still arc as if they were launched from the northern hemisphere, and yes, that is a gameplay consideration. However, it's still obnoxious watching your missiles get shot down as they slowly inch toward their targets.
Scoring Points: Scoring kills against enemy population centers earns points. Whoever has the most points at the end of the time limit wins.
Sensor Suspense: You only ever see icons moving on a map; you never get to witness the effects of your orders firsthand. The only hint of what might be really happening is the occasional sound of a woman crying.
The Steam version of the game has the achievement "Have you had enough?", which involves nuking a city whose population has been already reduced to 0.
Unfriendly Fire: You can manually target your allies assets and population and avoid any retaliation from anti aircraft fire. Just make sure to leave the alliance before the nukes fall or you'll lose points instead.
The Steam release was updated during the 2011 holiday sale to include Santa Claus travelling around the world delivering presents. You could destroy him with a well-aimed and well-timed nuke. Doing so earns you the "Merry Christmas" achievement, "and thereby end Christmas for everyone, for ever more".
War Is Hell: As the game's tagline implies: Nobody can win nuclear war, you can only lose the least.
We Have Reserves: Since fighters respawn and everything else doesn't, sending in waves of fighters to draw AA fire from bombers or missiles is one way to try and ensure they make it through, albeit limited by the fighters' short range.
You Bastard: Suffice to say, between the somber music, the unnerving sound effects, and the grim news reports, this game is not trying to make global thermonuclear war fun.