You can download the demo of Defcon, for Mac, Linux or Windows, and play a limited version of the game for free. You should do that now. What you'll get is a deep strategy experience coupled with a harrowing example of the artistic power of games: the gameplay is itself a poetic expression of the horrors mankind might be capable of, and the personal moral implications involved. You score a point for every million people you kill -- I think that sums it up.
But this phantasmagorical meditation on nuclear war is only scratched when you play against the computer, and it's plenty deep there. The real depth is in the multi-player game.
The social interactions I've experience playing this game -- if they'd pay me $300 bucks I'd write an Escapist article on it. But they won't pay me $300 bucks, so here's the short of it. Political discussions, philosophically charged banter, dark humor, these are the sort of things you can draw out of people while chatting against the backdrop of nuclear war. I'm talking about a culture much more sophisticated than your usual homophobic/sexist fraggish pwnage. This is a thinking person's blow-em-up.
Then there's the added layer of the game being about our world (and a great way to learn geography) -- players in the United States ordering Russian silos to nuke their home city, while a guy in Voronezh orders US subs to take the opportunity and nuke his hometown. That kind of thing. Whats significant, to me anyway, is that the game offers a sort of geopolitical group therapy, a way for human beings to explore the potential of destruction and arrive at a sort of implied consensus for a sustainable future -- Utopian visions induced by the LSD of play.
The team play sort of epitomizes the harmony between the fiction of nuclear war and the rules of timing and unit positioning. Sure, there's a lot of depth to a team playing well together, and the irony there is, you're harmonizing with your fellow man in order to completely annihilate the civilizations of other fellow men, who themselves are also co-operating to do the same to you. The game has a white-board feature so you can detail your battle plans with your allies--though unless you trust each other to stick to the plan, and are dealing with competent comrades who know how to micromanage a carrier fleet, your best laid plans are probably going to go to shit. Then there's the back-stab, a great way to score points late-game if you're allied with Latin America or Africa (Mexico and Cairo), which makes sick sense considering the history of those regions' relations to their northern counterparts. Come to think of it, Introversion is making a political statement by including Mexico with South America rather than the continent whose tectonic plate it rests on. Same goes for including the Middle-East with the rest of southern Asia, something that will make painful sense to Americans if Bush bombs Iran and China, obeying their recent multi-lateral pact, drops their dollar assets and instigates the Second Great Depression. Hopefully the Bush administration plays Defcon so they can blow 'em up real good.
Anyway, this is the best game to come out in 2006 and if you're into complex strategy, you'll be playing it for a long time.