Defcon 5

Not your regular space-faring Wolfenstein.

Wanna know the riveting story behind Defcon 5 you say? Giant space facility. Invading aliens. You blast them. The end. Because honestly, who really gives two craps? We’re talking about the ten millionth shooter that pits you against aliens in a futuristic setting. Thank goodness Defcon 5 redeems itself in other areas where it actually does present some actual innovation.

Initially released on the PlayStation and SEGA Saturn, Defcon 5 has its fair share of console conventions that include a weird save system and simplistic controls. On the upside the game feels a whole lot larger than your usual level-by-level drudge you get with typical Doom clones, which this game is certainly not. Unlike most games, a lot of things happen here that are not triggered by your actions. You simultaneously have to defend against invading aliens while exploring the besieged mining facility you’re stationed in, and also maintain sound defenses throughout. Here’s some gameplay from MegaLazyGamer:

An internal monorail system lets you visit sub-levels within the mining facility – certain section are locked when you start, others are open but may be invaded by aliens, and a lot of stops on the monorail let you man turrets that gives you a view outside the planet’s surface. When the aliens are coming in to attack, you have to rush to man these turrets and blast their drop ships. Later on you can find the right authorization software to unlock the turrets and adjust their efficiency, or even use them remotely from terminals located elsewhere.


Here’s the turret screen used to shoot dropships.

As you explore the levels you gain security clearance unlocking new areas and find useful items such as weapon upgrades or ammo. Shooting is a simple point and click affair, though you have to be careful when killing aliens (their explosions make the air within the level you’re located in more and more unbreathable, and at some point you have to leave or suffocate). Fortunately you can send out droid from stationary terminals to help you out if any robot ever gets on the station. Level design is painfully cubist and same-looking despite the free-scrolling engine, and the lacking automap exacerbates the issue.

In some respects this game is much more of a tactical shooter than a straightforward Doom knock-off, which is its greatest strength and also its weakness. It’s confusing as hell at first and takes some time to fully grasp. But after some playtime you’ll come to see what the designers were trying to do, and where they’ve succeeded.

System Requirements: 486 DX4 100MHz, 16 MB RAM, MSDOS

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