WarGames is set 20 years after the film of the same name, with the annoyingly bright David Lightman (Matthew Broderick as was) now employed to re-program the dodgy US defence computer that nearly started WW3 last time around. He tests his programming using online games – well, you would, wouldn’t you? After all, it’s only a simulation of a nuclear holocaust, not the real thing. ‘Shall we play a game?’ Ooh, go on then. Noughts and crosses suit you?
It would, of course, be a pretty dull game if all went to plan (‘Finished’, shouts David, and wanders off for a pizza. The End). But the computer has other ideas, so total extermination of life on Earth is once again a possibility. There’s nothing like playing for high stakes. And in this game, you can play on either ‘team’. Choose to save the world of destroy it, as human or computer. Inevitably, we went for the environmentally unsound option, to find that the first mission takes place in the Falklands. How topical can you get?
What WarGames boils down to is YASG – Yet Another Strategy Game – dressed up in neat packaging. Whether linking a new 3D strategy game with a 15-year old film was a good move is debatable, but at its heart this is an entertaining and highly playable title. There are more than 100 different armoured units, including air and sea vehicles, 30 missions, realistic battlefields and even weather effects to contend with. Winter, summer, city, country, it’s all here, and very nicely rendered it is too. You can rotate and zoom into the field of play, and the armoured units are large enough to look quite real, rather than resembling models or toys. You can repair them, build new ones, or hack into your opponent’s computer system and order their machines to destroy themselves. The game’s weaponry and explosions are particularly satisfying. In short, you feel as though you are actually in the thick of the action, rather than directing it from afar, which has to be a good thing.
Company: Electronic Arts