War Games (1984)

WarGames screenshot

War Games is a computer game, released in 1984, based on the movie of the same name from 1983. The film War Games is often credited with inspiring many real-time-strategy games but the War Games video game is the direct response of the movie itself.

WarGames Gameplay

Game-play focuses on the early elements of real-time-strategy. On a strategic level, the game focuses on the United States of America, divided into six areas. Players have to defend each area using various units. Units have their own strengths and weaknesses, such as range, whilst each area also has its own variation.

The evaluation and balancing of available units is a key part of modern strategy games. War Games also had eight difficulty levels and the average game could take under 10 minutes. Modern games will often last longer, but this was a one player game that showed all the early signs of the real-time-strategy genre before it was a major theme in gaming.

Players also had to avoid various losing conditions, such as having all bases destroyed or DEFCON 1 status for more than 60 seconds, otherwise they would automatically lose. As a strategy game, this prevents players from simply ignoring certain areas, as an all-rounded approach is often the best tactical option.

Whilst the computer game focused on real-time-strategy, another game was based on the same movie in 1998. War Games: Defcon 1 was released for the PlayStation, but chose to focus on tactical vehicle-shooting game-play over the real-time simulations of the earlier PC game.

Game Reviews

Reviews for War Games are very mixed. Many compliment it for being an early foray into the genre, whilst others retro-actively view the game as dated. On Moby Games, it has a score of 2.0 out of 5.

The Videogame Critic were more favourable, awarding War Games an A- in 2000. TeleMatch were an example of a critic less preferable, reviewing the game in 1984; they gave it 1 out of a potential 6.