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Video Game / WarGames Defcon 1

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MK-V Walker vs. Slayer Tank. Who will win?

WarGames Defcon 1 is a 1998 Real-Time Strategy video game developed by Interactive Studios and published by MGM Interactive and Electronic Arts for the PlayStation. A very, very, very loose adaptation of the 1983 film WarGames note , re-imagined as a full-scale war epic, Defcon 1 is a a tactical vehicle-shooting game taking place two decades after the film's events.

Two decades after the deactivation of the War Operation Plan Response (WOPR), the military technology of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has made leaps and bounds in advancements, just as WOPR reactivates itself. Now, back with a vengeance, the rogue super-intelligent computer system is amassing an army of robotic drones and mechanized war machines to Take Over the World...

Players can choose between two campaigns; to play as a NORAD commander tasked with preventing global domination by machines, or be the lackey of WOPR and help machines enslave humanity, in thirty missions set in multiple countries all across the globe.

How about a nice game of chess?

Shall we play a game?

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The game takes place in a futuristic version of 2004, where high-tech weaponry has been developed, until WOPR awakens and takes a second stab at global domination.
  • Actionized Adaptation: It's a video game adaptation of a techno-thriller... adapted into an action-packed video game where players can command tanks, gunships, war machines and all sorts of vehicles to rampage through enemy bases and destroy everything in sight.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: WOPR from the film is back online after twenty years, and this time it's amassing an army of drones and mechanized vehicles to Take Over the World.
  • Armchair Military: As with the norm of Real-Time Strategy games. Players in both NORAD and WOPR campaigns do not partake directly in combat, instead commandeering their units from the comfort of their offices (or their PlayStations, to be precise).
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Regardless of the campaign, this is the preferred method of players in every mission: bring out their strongest tanks / walkers / vehicles, blast their way into enemy bases, pick up a Golden Bullet power-up and rampage their way until there's nothing left to shoot at.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: Both NORAD and WOPR have APC units in their ranks, capable of transporting troops across terrains and then deploying them in enemy territory. The missions in Russia, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong in particular requires the player to use their APC to deliver special units from their base to enemy laboratories.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: For players choosing to play as WOPR, their final mission has them destroying the last NORAD command center in Tokyo, which leads to a cutscene where the rest of humanity are now slaves to evil machines. Yay to a happy ending!
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: There are levels in both campaigns in swamp settings, where vehicle mobility is hampered by the terrain and players will have to circumvent around marshes to attack enemy bases. One NORAD level in Louisiana actually made it a plot point where because of difficulty in moving around the marshes, they are not allowed access to tanks or heavy vehicles (same goes for the WOPR enemies, who couldn't use their walkers either) and must rely on jeeps and APCs
  • Car Fu: Due to NORAD forces being composed mostly of tanks and heavy vehicles, players in NORAD campaigns can perform some insane vehicular rampage against WOPR drones, using their armored vehicles to ram into and squash human-sized drones into pulps.
  • Chicken Walker: Most of the WOPR units are these (compared to NORAD who uses tanks), including the MK-III and MK-V walkers, having dual turrets on their sides and missile dispensers as backup weapons.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • WOPR's Catchphrase - "Shall we play a game?" is a direct nod to the movie. Also the checkpoints-cum-cheat-codes are depicted as buttons on a 3-by-3 panel, a reference to the movie's Tic-Tac-Toe motifs.
    • Additionally, the final missions of NORAD have the players receiving messages from David Lightman, the main character of the film.
  • Cool Bike: On the WOPR side, is the Tri-bike, a three-wheeled drone motorcycle with machine-guns and flare dispensers.
  • Cool Boat: The NORAD and WOPR navies have impressive vehicles at their disposal, with the Hovercraft / Otter transport serving as amphibious personnel carrier, while the Destroyer / Dreadnaught as primary assault unit.
  • Cool Ship: On both fronts. With NORAD having harrier jets and helicopters; WOPR on the other hand have a cool anti-gravity fighter plane called the Phoenix.
  • Death from Above: Jeeps (NORAD) and Tri-bikes (WOPR) have the ability to drop flares, which they can then use to summon airstrikes. Players on either campaign would make it an important priority to eliminate either units before they could reach their home base, where failing to do so the subsequent airstrike will take out a huge chunk of their units. Then again, players themselves can commandeer jeeps and Tri-bikes to deal severe damage to the enemy base.
  • Defcon Five: The game actually uses the DEFCON phases in the correct order (descending from 5 to 1), though whether it uses them correctly is debatable - even at DEFCON 5 it appears things are far from peaceful.
  • Defenseless Transports: Partially averted with the APC on both sides, but played straight for their aerial and amphibious transports.
  • The Dreaded Dreadnought: On the WOPR side, their navy's most powerful attack unit is the Dreadnaught, a mechanized ship with powerful cannons and automatic missile dispensers to unleash massive havoc on enemy bases.
  • Elite Mook: Depending on the player's chosen faction, the MK-IV and Slayer Tank serves this purpose.
  • Energy Weapon: For both sides, the Laser and Mantis tanks both use powerful laser cannons, the former in the form of green energy bolts while the latter as a Wave-Motion Gun.
  • Epic Ship-on-Ship Action: Sea battles are a common recurrence between NORAD and WOPR navies, turning up in missions set in Hong Kong, the Bering Sea and Russia.
  • Evil Is Bigger: Players might notice WOPR units tend to be bigger compared to NORAD, with their standard Walker units towering over the latter's tanks. Most of WOPR (save for the speedy Tri-bike and Phoenix) lean towards offense, whilst the NORAD units lean more towards defense.
  • Fake Longevity: The final NORAD mission set in the Omaha Desert. Yes, that's the final level of the game, but it's more frustrating than difficult: the entire level is one giant maze which forces players to twist and turn around until they can reach the other side of the map, and if they lost their current unit, it's back to square one. It turns an otherwise pleasant gaming experience into a chore to finish; comparatively the final WOPR mission (locate the last NORAD stronghold in Tokyo and destroy it) is quite a breeze.
  • Fragile Speedster: NORAD jeeps and WOPR Tri-bikes are both extremely fast, but lightly armoured and only have machine-guns which do Scratch Damage on vehicles and buildings, even when fully upgraded. What makes them useful is that these units have flare dispensers which can summon airstrikes, making them crucial to keep in certain missions.
  • Glass Cannon: The NORAD Laser and WOPR Mantis are both units which can release powerful laser blasts capable of shredding entire chunks of health from enemy units and buildings (when fully upgraded then can even execute One Hit Kills on buildings), and can even cloak themselves in stealth for a short period of time, but their health is pathetic. Two cannon hits and players will be retreating, lest they want to lose their precious invisible laser-firing super-vehicles. A lesser example is the NORAD Missile Tank; it's a small, light tank with a mere machine gun...and for secondary, launches an overhead 4-missile volley that hits like a train.
  • Golden Super Mode: Picking up the Golden Bullet power-up will have the player's currently-employed unit to glow with a massive golden aura. Their attack power and speed is doubled as well, at which point players can simply blast through everything in their way.
  • Hollywood Hacking: A few of the game's mission involves hacking into the mainframe of certain NORAD or WOPR buildings. Doing so involves getting a unit close to the designated building, pressing the "function" button, and then staying stationary for ten seconds while a circular-shaped countdown hovers above the player. That's "hacking" for this game.
  • Hover Tank: Both sides have amphibious hovercrafts in levels containing land and naval battles, notably in Hong Kong, Hawaii, the Bering Sea, and the like.
  • Invisibility Cloak: The WOPR have developed a special Stealth Field Generator late into the game, which players will either capture (NORAD) or defend (WOPR). Doing so allows them to respectively unlock a special unit, (respectively) the Slayer and Mantis, which can turn invisible for limited periods of time to sneak behind enemy lines.
  • In Name Only: The entire video game has practically zilch to do with the movie it's based on, save for some names and lines being referenced.
  • Kill and Replace: Late into the WOPR campaign in Washington, D.C., one of the last missions have the players assassinating an American ambassador and then transporting a clone to broadcast a faked message to the rest of the world. Most of the mission consists of the player's units preventing NORAD from uncovering the truth and eliminating opposing forces in facilitating WOPR's campaign of world domination.
  • Redshirt Army: Both NORAD and WOPR have their own armies supporting their vehicles, where the player controls the machines whilst their personnel serves as backup, the former using a Clone Army while the latter uses Mecha-Mooks.
  • Sapient Ship: As WOPR's forces are entirely mechanized, their walkers, ships, transports and various vessels do not have pilots, and are instead sapient and active on its own.
  • Sentry Gun: NORAD and WOPR both have turrets protecting their bases, the default capable of firing heavy-machine gun rounds. Later on enemy bases will have laser turrets and SA Ms (harmless target practice to ground vehicles, deadly threat to aircraft) instead, while the player can have a turret carrier to deploy automated laser cannons anywhere on the map.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: For both sides, their best and most powerful units can unleash waves of missiles, including the Slayer Tanks, MK-V Walkers, Dreadnaughts, and the like. These are the most dreaded units as enemies, for obvious reasons.
  • The Maze: The final NORAD mission is set in the Omaha Desert, where the WOPR headquarters is located, and has been converted into a maze filled with Walkers, turrets and Mantis. It's as lengthy and as frustrating as it sounds.
  • Monumental Damage: The NORAD mission in the Chinese outskirts have the Great Wall getting blasted apart by WOPR Walkers, as WOPR proceeds to launch an assault on Beijing. Most of the mission revolves around cleaning up WOPR forces stationed around the ruins of the wall, whose corners are fitted with turrets. WOPR mission 14 also nonchalantly (as in, not related to the mission) lets you destroy the White House! (Even though the ending cutscene for WOPR shows it being obliterated by WOPR airstrikes)
  • Reforged into a Minion: A rare example where it's the good guys who does it — the WOPR mission in Mexico have the player uncovering a NORAD base consisting of captured Walkers and drones, being reverse-engineered by NORAD scientists, which they're tasked to destroy.
  • Secret Level: Selecting any NORAD level that hasn't already been unlocked and inputting a certain code will allow you to access the Papua New Guinea mission featured in the demo. However, doing so will lock you out of playing any other level (and disables the options menu on the title screen); the only way out is to reset the console. Furthermore, trying to input the code on a WOPR level will cause the game to hang on a loading screen.
  • Tank Goodness: The backbone of the NORAD military consists of tanks, the default being the classic M1 Abrams (referred in-game as the Dragoon Tank), followed by the missile-spewing Slayer tanks and larger, stronger Gladiator tanks.
  • Take It to the Bridge: For both campaigns, several missions feature bridges, which must be destroyed by calling in airstrikes. For this purpose, the player will be informed to make sure they don't lose their jeep or Tri-bike — the only units capable of summoning airstrikes by dropping flares.
  • Take Over the World: The objective of WOPR, which players in the NORAD campaign are trying to prevent, while players in the WOPR campaign attempt to achieve it.
  • Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: The WOPR mission in Hong Kong had its first objective being retrieving a drone trapped between WOPR headquarters and the NORAD naval base in Victoria Harbor. Naturally, the mission has them blasting their way through enemy naval forces to allow the amphibious transport to pass through.
  • Underwater Base: NORAD's final headquarters is located underneath the Sea of Japan, and the final mission of the WOPR campaign has the players hacking into a NORAD base in Tokyo to reveal the base for them to capture. Succeed in that and the player has completed their final mission in WOPR's global conquest.
  • Villain Shoes: For players choosing the WOPR campaign. Have fun helping your machine overlords to enslave humanity!