REVIEW: First Strike: Final hour

REVIEW: First Strike: Final hour

Simple mechanics make the game easy to learn and enjoyable to play. Many things to unlock requiring multiple playthroughs and meeting different requirements in this fast-paced RTS.

Steam: Released
Type: Single-player
Genre: RTS, Strategy
Developer: Blindfluck studios
Publisher: Blindfluck studios
Release date: 31 May, 2017

Judgement Day

Humanity is at the end of its line, it’s not Skynet launching these nuclear warheads but the humans themselves. Featuring a realistic placement of countries with proper border placement, this vision of the world is soon muddled with explosions and scorched earth afterward, making it really hard to see where your enemies are sometimes. The gameplay is light on the strategy side, mainly it is just a “rush and kill” type of game. Most matches take 20-30 minutes even on the hardest difficulties, although the pace is quick and you’re bound to hit a few wrong quick keys in the midst of a nuclear war. First strike: Final hour is more or less a pretty simple game to beat.

Gameplay Video

Total Annihilation

The goal is simple, we have one hour to nuke every other nation on the planet and be the last nation standing (or achieve world peace by showing an example and reducing our own arsenal, hoping they would follow). We achieve this by researching more powerful missiles, super weapons and technologies that offer us faster building, automatic defences and other similar passive bonuses. The research system is really simple, only 4 linear tech trees, which is a good thing. They are quick to learn, and with the fast pace this game has, you need to know what you’re doing, you don’t have time to plan deep tactics. Time slows down a bit in the menus, but it never comes to a total halt. Ten nations nuking each other doesnt really allow  for some time to read or plan anything.

We have three main weapons, firstly a missile type is available right at the start and it’s really the only one you need. It has the shortest reach of the three types, but still long enough to keep you advancing and occupying other nations without a problem. Cruiser missile (the first type) is also used to defend your areas from incoming attacks, the other two missiles are long range missiles but cannot be used to defend anything. My first runs consisted of me building 50/50 of both types until i tried with just cruiser missiles out of curiosity. It worked wonders, but at the same time, the challenge died. All i needed to do was build a cruiser missile on every country i occupied, hit an area next to me, conquer it and repeat. I didn’t need to plan what kind of missiles I built, how much I’d build them or where I’d launch them. As evidenced by the gameplay video, South Africa is defined as hard and I’ve also clicked the hardcore mode on. There is also the possibility to form alliances with other nations through diplomacy, I didn’t find the need for that and it seems the AI don’t use it either, or then the game does not inform players about formed pacts between nations.

And boy, did i launch some missiles during my sessions!

Scorched earth

Overall, the graphics are nice to look at, more cartoony than realistic and they do what is needed until you have waged war for about fifteen minutes. After that, the whole globe is usually full of ash and fire, burying the borders of countries beneath them. It becomes frustrating to aim your attacks towards small countries like Syria, Nepal, Austria and the likes. Enemy countries do have icons showing how many missiles they have (after researching the skill), but if they haven’t built any in that country, it’s effectively hidden under all the destruction. It’s a nice little visual effect, showing the destruction and painting our planet earth black, sometimes filled with fire, but it has its downside. There were numerous times I hunted, for example, the aforementioned countries, trying to find them amidst the fiery hell. We do have a skill that shows all the borders very clearly for a short while and of course, it has a cooldown. It’s especially useful when nearing the end of a match, but if you miss a country, then you’ll have kill time doing something like push-ups or whatnot while waiting for the skill to cool down. It was a bit frustrating at times, especially in the end game when the victory is hanging on one or two small countries that you just don’t seem to find.

Think about finding a small country in Europe from a map like this…

Unordinary tactics

The AI isn’t the best and it makes for some really strange decisions. At one point, I was holding the whole of South America, except Chile. I came from Africa and my evil master plan was to conquer the USA through Brazil. Instead of using a barrage of missiles (a “skill” known as the First Strike) on me. The AI decided to bomb Chile with nine missiles. They couldn’t even occupy the area since we can only occupy areas next to our own. It was a strange decision that allowed me to bomb the USA and conquer it very easily, they couldn’t defend themselves because of those nine wasted missiles on Chile. Attacks like these occurred frequently. The AI might have two or three countries in Europe next to each other, other AI-controlled nations used the first strike launching fifteen missiles instead of one per country. I could have understood that if they would have been the last nation in the way of victory, but there usually is a much better option than overkilling the weakest player.

This is just wasting missiles and unnecessary cooldown on many nations. The ground is already destroyed.

Hardcore mode offers a bit more challenge and better decisions with the virtual generals pushing the buttons. After getting familiar with the mechanics and super weapons, North Korea offers a proper challenge in the beginning, starting with just one country and surrounded by nations that are already occupied.

Should you buy it?

Maybe. It’s a nice casual RTS, feeling satisfactory though easy. It’s 11.99€ on the Steam store now, and I wouldn’t pay that much for this game, but then again this genre isn’t my first choice. It is fun for short sessions, but a game that’s only fun and short, not challenging is not worth 12 euros in my opinion. These days there are games that offer much more challenge and overall enjoyability with a lower price. If you find it part of a bundle or on sale, definitely pick this one up. No bugs encountered and the game ran smoothly the whole time.

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