The world has gone to shit and every country is getting armed and ready for something sinister. But where do you focus? Defences, research, expansion, or war? These are the choices you’ve got to make, and act upon, in a split second in First Strike Final Hour, and it’s exhilarating.
I’ll be perfectly honest, I had no idea what to expect from First Strike Final Hour when we received our review key. The name alone reminded me of that RTS mobile game which Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed for a little bit. However, what I found was a simple yet fast-paced game of world domination and war. Think Risk but in three dimensions and no dice.
First Strike Final Hour doesn’t necessarily have a story, at least not one that’s incredibly obvious anyway, instead it offers you that instant fix of gameplay as you’re thrown into a world war with nothing but WMDs at your disposal. Upon choosing your country of origin (which also decides your difficulty level) and the amount of opponents you’ll be facing, you’re immediately sent to prepare.
In front of you you’ll then find a globe and here is where all of the gameplay takes place. It’s a real-time-strategy game on global proportions. However there are no units to move around, just territories to control, stocks of weapons to build, and research to conduct. At the time time, the enemy is doing the same thing, Russia is expanding into Asia, Western Europe has encroached on Africa’s territory, and South America is slowly moving to take North America.
To add to this, WMDs are blasting into orbit with targets set firmly on various locations across the world. This is where you’ll have to decide what sort of approach you’re going to take. Are you going to risk losing a couple of territories in order to build a strong offensive, or are you going to step back from blowing up every corner of the world to build up some defences and expand your reach?
For the most part, I took a fairly balanced approach to First Strike Final Hour, I tried to have an equal amount of defences where needed, and a couple of bombs laying it wait for when the time is right. In the mean time, I put enough effort into researching that I was able to strengthen my own offensive, so much so that I’d almost managed to unlock one of the super weapons which you pick at the beginning of the game.
My choice was the Dirty Radium Bomb and the Global Strike Trident. These Super Weapons are unlocked pretty late into the game once you’ve managed to fully upgrade each half of the research tree, but when you have them, they can have devastating effects.
There are a total of 12 Super Weapons, however you have to unlock them in order to be able to use them, and this is where a very interesting mechanic comes in. With every completed game, you’ll unlock something, whether it’s a new force to play as or a new Super Weapon to use. Interestingly, the game shows you how much you’ve unlocked before jumping into a game offering that oh-so-addictive saying “just one more game”.
With each game lasting around 20 minutes, depending on how well you are at micromanagement, First Strike Final Hour offers something for those who just want something quick to play, but there’s enough replayability for those who want to blow a couple of hours in this game too.
In terms of gameplay things aren’t as straight forward as they seem as there are a number of curve balls that can be thrown out there. The first is negotiations to ensure that you and another state will work in co-operation. This usually leaves you with around five minutes of peace from that state until they decide to send another tasty looking bomb your way.
Now, the name of the game, First Strike Final Hour isn’t just a fancy name, it’s actually the name of one of the main and potentially most devastating mechanics within the game, The First Strike. This mechanic is when one state decides to arm and unleash all of their weapons upon another and it’s incredibly spectacular to see. It’s also a pain in the ass when it happens to you as it’s usually impossible to defend against, and usually leaves half of your territories uninhabited and ripe for the picking.
Fortunately as there’s no resource management here, as long as you have a territory that isn’t currently busy recovering, researching, expanding, or building, you can usually take these back pretty quickly, though focusing on getting these territories back can mean you take your eye off the ball and another nation destroys and steals half of your land.
My favourite part about First Strike Final Hour is that no two games go the same and the tables can turn incredibly quickly. It’s unpredictable and keeps you on your toes, and I like that a lot. And even if you win, the game almost questions if you really “won”, and lists the sheer amount of damage and casualties caused by the war.
Despite the game being simple in execution, First Strike Final Hour looks fantastic, although there’s not a lot going on there is plenty of attention to detail and even when a massive First Strike lands on your territory the game doesn’t lag or stutter which is definitely a plus.
All in all, First Strike Final Hour is an incredibly addictive, fantastic looking, strategy game that keeps you thinking one step ahead of everyone else. However, if your eyes get a little too big for your head, micromanagement can quickly lead to you losing a hell of a lot of your land.