Before I get in to this review I must say that this game won’t appeal to everyone. Defcon 5 is a real tense action game, the sort that makes your heart beat that little bit faster – like hearing faint footsteps following behind you when you’re walking down an unlit alleyway. The atmosphere keeps you on the edge of your seat, so you feel right in the thick of it. So, why won’t it appeal to everyone? Well, you see, Defcon 5 is a thinking man’s game. This doesn’t mean it’s hard, though it is, but more that in order to complete this game, you really must keep your wits about you.
So what’s it about then? In Defcon 5, you take the role of a ‘cyberneer’ given the seemingly simple task of installing automatic defence software on to the computer systems on a mining resource planet owned by, the Tyron corporation. However, all is not quite right, and during your spell on the planet, and for the first time in nearly 200 years, there is an alien attack. Well, it must be aliens, mustn’t it?
Defcon 5 is a very varied game, combining several different styles of gameplay into one cleverly executed package. There are arcade sequences, played on the planet’s surface, where you must shoot down your assailants mixed with a corridor style game where you must travel around the outpost complex, finding objects, accessing the computer VOS terminals and fighting any intruders that make it into the building.
All the sections of the game are well designed, and as you play, you can’t help but feel overcome by the taut atmosphere of the whole thing. No matter what you do, apart from when pausing the game, the action keeps on, and any hesitation can be fatal. This means that even if you are accessing the computer terminals, say to control combat or recon droids or to adjust the software parameters for the defence system, you still have to be aware of the possibility that an alien berserker might come up to you and shoot you in the back. The action is relentless. There is a small down-side to this speed, however. The game area is huge, with several levels and areas to explore. For this reason, it can take you several attempts to actually get anywhere in the game, as you must also memorise how you did things, where you found the access control devices and things like ammunition or health. With constant voice prompts, you can easily feel out of depth when you can’t keep up with the advice given to you, but it is most definitely worth persevering with. Once you have reached this stage though, having died several times in the process, the game really unfolds and actually does become very rewarding the further and further you get.
All in all, Defcon 5 is a very well structured game that forces you to think fast to ensure survival. In this respect it is unlike any other game I have come across on the PlayStation. With most other games, you can start again should you die, having saved your game earlier. You can save your game in Defcon 5 too, but with time at a premium, you’ll probably want to go right back to the start each go to reduce as much time as possible time during the early stages. Top tense stuff.