Game Reviews

First Strike

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| First Strike
First Strike
| First Strike

I'm sat around the table in the war room. There's just me and the cat, and she seems more interested in sleep than the horrendous decisions we have to make. It's up to me. It's always up to me. With a few taps on the screen I launch the attack.

A stream of missiles splurge out from my territories - so many they almost blanket the sky. They curve in a glorious, synchronised arc above the earth, chunks of them falling off as they prepare to deliver their deadly payload.

And then they crash into the surface, an angry red cloud bursting from their point of impact. The ground turns a funereal black beneath their onslaught. Statistics flash up tallying the millions dead.

"That," I say to my cat, "will teach Greenland."

She yawns. She was never cut out for the tough decisions that a commander-in-chief has to make. I turn my attention back to the map, and plot a way to destroy my next target.

Suck it, Greenland

First Strike is a game about nuclear war. It's about building up an arsenal of offensive and defensive weapons and then using them to assert your superiority over the rest of the world.

And, when the mood takes you, using those weapons to blow up anyone you don't like.

It's a fast-paced strategy game of expansion, research, and threat. You start off master of a country, with a small selection of Cruise missiles, which you can use to defend your territories if attacked, and a small supply of offensive nukes.

You control the game with taps, swipes, and pinches. Tapping on one of your pieces of land brings up the options available to you.

You can expand to a neighbouring state, fire off some of your ordnance, build new weapons, or research ways to turn yourself into a more viable nuclear threat.

Expanding your stockpile of weapons is a good way to start. Each chunk of your empire can hold a set number of rockets and missiles, so making sure you've got both defensive and offensive options covered is important.

Radial menus make mass murder a breeze

After you've filled up your silos you'll open the First Strike option. This basically lets you fire as many rockets as you have in range against a foe.

In games against one opponent these are pretty devastating, but when more nations are involved things become utterly chaotic.

In fact, don't bother playing with just one opponent - jump straight in with a couple and the game opens up like a gaping apocalyptic maw.

Missiles spew out of every continent at once, and you're always scrabbling to refill your silos and strengthen your defences.

Researching, building, and expanding leave your nation vulnerable, so you need to spread out your defences or face obliteration.

But when rockets are raining down on you from every corner of the globe there's almost no time to react before your once proud country is reduced to a radioactive wasteland.

The sun never sets on my empire of corpses

There's a maudlin, desperate undercurrent to First Strike. It tells a tale of the inevitability of destruction. Rockets miss their targets, cities are laid waste, and millions fall under the push of a finger on the screen.

A percentage of each sale goes to anti-nuclear proliferation charities, and while you're always disconnected from the barbarity of your actions, by ticking numbers and less-than-real graphics, there's a constant reminder that you're doing something wrong, and a bit silly.

The fact that that message is wrapped around a fantastic strategy game makes it even stronger.

First Strike has worthy and important things to say, but while it's saying them, you get to blow up Greenland.

And quite a lot of Iceland too. And a good chunk of Canada. Wait, Canada is mine.

First Strike

A thought provoking and fast-paced strategy game, murdering millions with the flick of a finger in First Strike will make you laugh and cry