If you have ever played risk, then you know the simple joys of it – taking Kamchatka, fighting to get Australia because it's the best, wondering why the cannon had no guy with it. It's a classic – long at times, but still classic. First Strike: Final Hour modernizes it a bit, and by modernize, we mean “It's all nukes now”. And it's actually pretty good because of it.
You are one of many countries – U.S., Western Europe, Russia, and even countries like Brazil and South Africa. For some reason the world is at war, and everyone is nuking each other. You must negotiate alliances, research and nuke fast to win...and survive. Like Risk, it doesn't need much of a story – the nukes really speak for themselves. It works.
Controls are pretty basic point and click. The map is a sphere, and it can get wonky at times track nuke paths or going between territories. And a few times it just stopped moving for me. There are hot keys, but I found myself flicking back and forth so often between the screen and list, that the click and point method won out. Not too complex, but it worked.
Gameplay is pretty straightforward. With each territory, you get t choose to attack, research, invade or whatnot, but since it's all real time, it's about as fast as you can go, and as fast as the other players can go. It's not turn based, so you need to hurry through and keep conquering with nukes. Honestly, by the time you're done, it should be a wasteland, especially after you unlock some of the special weapons (To be fair, each area nuked can hold less intercept missiles or nukes, so there is damage being done). It takes skill, just like Risk. Except in this version, you can attack anyone, anywhere as you upgrade, meaning Australia isn't so safe anymore.
The graphics are fine too. Spinning the globe around reminded me of Google Earth, and it's pretty well detailed – like the actual Earth in somewhat crude board game form. Explosions and things are also detailed. It works for what it is – not too realistic, but also not too silly, because there are reminders like a death count and megatons score telling you just how horrible it can be.
The sounds are fun little missile silo sounds, and explosions and things. It goes well with the game. The music is good – anything that loops and you don't realize it's looping is pretty great. It's standard action music, but with a military undertone. Like the sounds, it works well.
Despite being a Beta, there really wasn't much in the glitch department. It ran smoothly with no frame rate issues, and it did as advertised. The only problem was when spinning it around by mouse, it would sometimes get stuck, and you couldn't rotate by anything under than the hot keys, and that only rotated it in a few areas, when you needed to see all of it. But that was minor, and the second time it happened, it sorted itself out in a minute. Overall, not bad here.
What can I say? First Strike: Final Hour is a fun game, despite being about nukes. It's like a modern day Risk, and if that sounds good to you, you're going to have a lot of fun with this. If you liked Civilization games (the Sid Meier's versions, as if there are any others) late in the game where nukes become available, you'll love this too, since it's a more tactical version of that. Honestly, I had a lot of fun. There weren't many issues, and I'm going right back to playing it as soon as my review is in. It's that good. This comes at a very high recommendation.
Final Score: 9.5 out of 10
A copy of the game software was provided for the purpose of review.