Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. games(TM)
    Introversion’s best yet – chillingly brilliant. [Nov 2006, p.126]
  2. The pruned unit selection, simple relationships and fixed playing field give DEFCON more in common with chess than most RTS games. It's not a game to get lost in for hours on end, but it is one you'll get the urge to play again and again for months to come.
  3. 90
    Global thermonuclear war has been a popular topic for decades, but few things have managed to capture the spirit of the subject and present in both a digestible and utterly unforgettable form as Defcon.
  4. 90
    At $20, this just may be the finest piece of "budgetware" ever produced, with every bit as much to offer strategywise as RTS games three times its cost. Like the greatest board games, its entry curve is small, its interface elementary, and its potential for strategic depth enormous.
  5. An amazing game. It could be argued that the appeal is limited, as after all, there is only one map to play on. But due to shifting alliances and perceived threats, the game never fails to feel anything but completely fresh.
  6. AceGamez
    The only real issue I have with Defcon is that there's no way to do a quick rematch; you need to head back to the lobby and set up the same match if you want to get payback against the folks who out-nuked you.
  7. Computer Games Magazine
    DEFCON is a simple idea developed with style by a group of obviously talented game designers. [Mar 2007, p.73]
  8. As Defcon is almost entirely a multiplayer game, bots are provided but not much fun to play against. The bots have very limited strategy and are fairly easy to defeat. While one can battle a large number of bots simultaneously this challenge by numbers is less appealing than the strategic challenge one can enjoy in the multiplayer modes and hardly prepares you to compete online.
  9. For me, a game needs to be well-made first, original later and Introversion have proven before that they can easily fit both in the same package. DEFCON is no exception.
  10. Easy to learn but difficult to master as your tactics need to be adjusted on the go.
  11. With its deep yet surprisingly simple gameplay, DEFCON is an addictive title that deserves a spot on any strategy gamer’s hard drive.
  12. PC Gamer UK
    Defcon is an equation that looks simple but can never quite be solved, and it always leaves you scratching your chin, your mind bristling with ideas for new atrocities to engineer. [Nov 2006, p.70]
  13. An interesting concept, classic battle graphics and tremendous replayability, this game has it all.
  14. From a technical standpoint, DEFCON may be an outdated game, especially compared to some of the current powerhouse offerings. But from an artistic point of view, the game,s brilliantly designed and really evokes a certain set of emotions.
  15. 85
    DEFCON's a great example of how a few simple concepts can be combined to make something that's incredibly interesting and pleasantly complicated.
  16. DEFCON is fun, challenging, and addictive. Offering the depth that strategy fans want, and a level of accessibility that opens the game to all players.
  17. PC Zone UK
    DEFCON is such a clever blend of inspired simplicity and deceptive profundity, presented in such a powerfully evocative way, that I want to get Introversion to decorate my house and invent the rest of my life for me. [Dec 2006, p.76]
  18. Pelit (Finland)
    Yet another stylish, superbly designed game from Introversion. Not the most long-lasting single play experience, but for the price, who dares to complain? [Dec 2006, p.82]
  19. The game’s atmosphere also plays a key role in creating a quality feeling, which in Defcon’s case is a very dark and sinister one.
  20. PC Format
    A slight affair, but tense, focused and the best finger-on-the-button sim ever. [Nov 2006, p.96]
  21. A simple, addictive game that'll make you cheer when the missiles launch, and give you nightmares when they land.
  22. By far one of the most understatedly atmospheric games of the year, DefCon has cornered the market on the kind of strategy that tenses the buttocks to sphincter-alarming proportions. Death, destruction, brains and beauty – who the hell needs a nice game of chess?
  23. PC Gamer
    Defcon is delightfully fun in its simplicity and payoff, so don't expect incredibly deep strategy. [Dec. 2006, p.78]
  24. As a casual strategist or a hardcore simulation fan, Defcon contains enough elements to involve anybody in the fight for global thermonuclear dominance, and you won't want to leave any time soon.
  25. Though not a complex strategy game, Defcon's specific sense of style makes for a compelling and unsettling experience.
  26. Defcon is as pure and direct a game as its inspiration, and its limitations are ones of the game's basic scope.
  27. 80
    This could have been little more than a Flash game done on the cheap to cash in on this nostalgia. Instead, Introversion has created a chilling, thoughtful, and eminently playable real time strategy game, squeezing more atmosphere into 60MBs than most games can manage with 600MBs. Sometimes, less is indeed so much more.
  28. 80
    Much like "Darwinia," DEFCON is going to win a lot of hearts. With its incredibly and attractive gameplay, fans of strategy games will have an absolute blast.
  29. Games Master UK
    Brilliant while it lasts, even if, in the long run, it's something of a short but passionate love affair, rather than a long-lasting "Advance Wars"-style marriage of gaming joy. [Dec 2006, p.84]
  30. netjak
    As a quick game of nuclear holocaust, Defcon is good. As a not-so-quick game of diplomacy, Defcon is a very good game. However, given how successful the diplomacy meta game is, I can't help but feel that the inclusion of some more details, some more units, some more something, may have resulted in an even more intense game.
  31. My main gripe is that the single player game doesn't have the durability I would have hoped for, so if you don’t plan to go online then it’s not a game I’d recommend you pick up.
  32. Besides being a simply designed but strategically complex game, Defcon can also be seen as a work of art. It made me think of Andy Warhol’s silk-screen paintings of an electric chair. Like those paintings, Defcon presents its subject with a stark matter-of-factness. The game does not tell you what to think about nuclear war, but makes it impossible not to think about it.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 186 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 65 out of 82
  2. Negative: 3 out of 82
  1. JasonRabb
    Dec 31, 2007
    This is a simple game to understand yet incredibly difficult to master. Kudos for a company to break from what is "in" to attempt somethingThis is a simple game to understand yet incredibly difficult to master. Kudos for a company to break from what is "in" to attempt something older yet heat-thumping in fun and entertainment. You have to love the genre of strategy and chess to understand and appreciate the brilliance of this game. Enjoy! = ) Full Review »
  2. Feb 22, 2011
    The only bad thing is the lack of servers online. Otherwise, this is a fun, challenging, and interesting game. It's a must have for anyoneThe only bad thing is the lack of servers online. Otherwise, this is a fun, challenging, and interesting game. It's a must have for anyone who loves strategy games. Full Review »
  3. Jan 29, 2012
    DEFCON borrows some of its lore and most of its appearance from portions of the movie WarGames. The multi player scene is still active, and itDEFCON borrows some of its lore and most of its appearance from portions of the movie WarGames. The multi player scene is still active, and it is very easy to find open matches with all kinds of different settings. Personally, I prefer playing against the CPU, much like in the movie. The map is fairly accurate, depicting the geopolitical era of the Cold War. Implementing orders to your units can sometimes be confusing and inadequate, but with enough attempts, you become used to the interface, and will be able to do all of the game's strategical requirements. What is most valuable in DEFCON is the replay ability. Certainly, each match has an ending, but the game truly shines when you play it repeatedly; alone or online. Winning is not easy. Several things must go right, and occur at specific moments in order to be successful. Because of these timing issues, sometimes you will win or lose depending on how quickly or how slowly your units execute orders in conjunction with timers. Nuking cities and other strategic locations doesn't exactly feel like you are killing people. There isn't very much tension. It all just feels like you are clicking around on the map and delegating orders. The feeling that lives are actually being lost is not truly present. At the end of each match, you will be shown a small statistics screen with how much of the enemy population you have killed, how many of your population have been killed, and so on. Each match takes between 15 to 20 minutes to complete, and it often feels like each instance ends abruptly without much of a climax or excitement in the confrontations. The entire atmosphere is very cold and impersonal. Setting up a new single player match means you will have to go into the advanced settings every single time in order to change a few options to single player mode. The default (which can't be permanently altered) is set to multi player, broadcasting your match as public. This is quite annoying and should not have been programmed as such. I am certain that there are many DEFCON players that prefer single player mode and this preference should not be hindered by permanently set options from the developers. The longevity of DEFCON is dependent entirely on the player's interest in its short matches, be it single player or multi player. Besides your initial location on the match, it feels like every single match is played almost exactly the same, with very little occurring differently or alternatively. The strategies necessary to play this game are limited and basic, regardless of whether you win or lose. The only major change as you become better at the game is that you will begin winning, but this does not mean each match will be played differently, or go through a different turn of events. As repetitive as it is, there is a small amount of entertainment gained from playing DEFCON for more than three or so matches at a time. The gaming experience quickly becomes dull, repetitive, tiresome, and almost identical to every other match you play. DEFCON is best played in short bursts in order to preserve its replay ability. Seriously lacking in variety, this diversion is suited for fast breaks and brief encounters. Full Review »