First Strike: Final Hour is a real-time strategy game from Blindflug Studios AG. The game is all about being the last nation standing in an all-out nuclear war on planet Earth. It’s very similar to DEFCON whereby you engage your enemies through the use of nuclear weapons on a global scale. You control your nation’s territory from the planetary geoscape where you can issue orders such as building nuclear weapons, defensive missiles, conducting research or expanding your borders. Each territory under your control is capable of being issued its own order and so alongside being real-time you will quickly find yourself clicking A LOT, especially as the game progresses and you have more territories. Although when it comes to making decisions the game incorporates an element of time dilation whereby time is slowed and returns to normal once you are done. This is great for gaining some respite from the otherwise hectic gameplay which primarily features missile flying all across the globe.
On starting your first game you first need to pick a faction from a list of 12 which includes: USA, Western Europe, Australia, Israel, Brazil, North Korea and more which are unlockable. The game’s difficulty is tied to the nation you are playing which is heavily based on your proximity to other nations on the globe in addition to other factors. For example, USA is termed as easy due to being rather isolated on its own continent with a large number of territories to begin with. In terms of gameplay it’s not as simple as you would assume from your first glance. The research progression system has a multitude of options ranging from upgrading your IRBM missiles to the ICBM missiles which feature greatly increased range and a bigger warhead, or increasing your production speed allowing you to pump out more defensive missiles.
The main element of strategy in the game is knowing when to strike. As each territory you control is only capable of doing one action at a time, you must choose your battles wisely. Once you launch a missile the territory which it launched from will be on cool down and so cannot receive any orders until the cool down has elapsed. This is especially relevant when using the First Strike ability, which launches all missiles in range at a designated target. Should you launch a First Strike at a neighbouring nation you may find your nation defenceless against any enemy missiles now launched against you, and the AI knows this. Frequently throughout my play through enemy nations would wait until I had launched a strike before they themselves retaliated with their own. This lead to huge destruction on both sides, with territories becoming irradiated. Irradiated territories are no longer under a player’s control and cannot be issued any orders until the radiation has reduced over time.
Another avenue for strategy is the ability to engage in diplomacy with other nations. By conducting talks with other nations you can form alliances for mutual benefit. However there is only one way to win in First Strike: Final Hour and that is to be the last man standing. Sooner or later you will find your alliance break down and your two nations engage in nuclear war once more. This feature is by far my least utilised in my time playing. The only benefit you seemingly gain is to reduce your number of threats on the globe by 1 for a period of time. Overall this alone feels like the weakest element of the game and so I would like to see further options in this area, such as research agreements or even the ability to station missiles in an ally’s territory.
In conclusion, First Strike: Final Hour is a quick and easy game to jump into when you have some spare time. The use of real-time means you always have something you need to do however the sheer amount of mouse clicking required may turn some off. In many ways the game is a spiritual successor to Introversion Software’s DEFCON and in some ways this is true with a great soundtrack, and excellent UI to boot. However the game lacks in its variety and you will find yourself repeating the same strategy over and over. Features like diplomacy feel as if they are lacking depth in comparison to areas such as the research tree and so leaves me wanting. With that said the game is enjoyable and easily a good way to fill lunch breaks or other downtime.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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