First Strike Game, an arcade nuclear war simulation game from Blindflug Studios and Feinheit GmbH, is now available from the app store. Featuring an easily manipulated interface and engaging battles on a global scale, First Strike Game is a game of stockpiling defenses, expanding territory, and striking others when the opportunity is right.
First Strike Game Pros:
- Appealing global viewpoint with cool circular menu interface
- Simple tap and drag controls are smooth and effective
- Soundtrack adds to the experience
- Gameplay can get frantic and exciting
First Strike Game Cons:
- Early portion of the game is tedious and repetitive
- Difficult to manage your own territories while keeping an eye on enemies
- Launching nukes and killing millions left us feeling uneasy
- No multiplayer or social gaming integration
You can play as the United States, Western Europe, or North Korea, with a number of other countries unlocked through quality play. The global landscape is broken up into various sections, of which you control a few in your region. Each has a few slots in which to store nuclear payloads. Tapping on any region under your control brings up a circular menu that allows you to build rockets, expand your territory, research new tech, and attack/defend enemy territories. Expanding to neighbouring territories allows for more storage spaces and close proximity to enemies, helpful in launching attacks since your rockets have limited range. Researching new tech allows for perks like expanded storage, faster cooldown timers, better warning systems, and the like. Every action you take in the game activates a cooldown timer, so you must balance all decisions to ensure that you are never left vulnerable. Cruise missiles can be built quickly and are effective defensive measures, intercepting incoming ICBMs. ICBMs take a little longer to build, but they have greater range and they are effective offensive measures. Launching defensive missiles will leave you unable to take another action with the territory that launched it for several moments, while research and expansion have the longest timers. If you build up a bunch of ICBMs, you can launch a First Strike where multiple missiles are unleashed on the same target, leading to a devastating mushroom cloud when they rain down. Countries go back and forth replacing missiles, expanding their reach, increasing tech, and blasting enemies until the opposition is wiped out or they give up.
Graphically, the singular view of the Earth against the black background is simplistic, yet appealing. Land masses use a variety of colour, with cross-hatching and darkness indicating impacted and wiped out areas. The rocket launches look very cartoonish, and the resulting explosions also don’t lean heavily on realism. Arcing lines indicate a rocket’s path, and it can be intimidating to see the screen covered in arches when a First Strike is called. You control everything with taps, touching a territory to bring up the dial menu and tapping an icon to select your desired course of action. It gets quite tedious and repetitive and managing all of your actions while keeping an eye on the enemy is an exercise in futility. You swipe and drag the screen to rotate the globe and you pinch to zoom in or out. While it’s an interesting concept for a game, we never really felt like we had a good handle on the overall picture, nor did we feel comfortable launching attacks on other nations, knowing the consequences of our unprovoked actions. The text blurbs informing us that a major city with millions of people had been wiped out by our aggressions never sat well with us. The devs clearly anticipate these same feelings, as the screen reads “You Win?” when you survive as if to say that there really is no “winner” when you resort to nuclear weapons.
Replay value is good, as you’ll need to successfully defeat opponents time and time again to unlock other nations to play as and against. Otherwise, there is no multiplayer option, nor any social gaming integration to offer anything to keep you playing for long. You do receive a stat breakdown of nations destroyed, casualties (in millions), megatons of explosives detonated, and length of play time if that interests you. A portion of the game’s proceeds will go to an anti-nuclear proliferation organization, as the game’s goal is to bring awareness to the dangers of nuclear warfare and hopefully help to do something about it. An iPad-only offering for $3.99, First Strike Game is a 3.5-Dimple game.