Malcolm Owen On November 23, 2003 at 11:50 am

I am now a wiser man than I was about a fortnight ago. It’s not a profound statement, but it is one that is worth saying. This is because of Time of Defiance, and it’s slower pace than most other strategy games out there.

Time of Defiance is a relatively simple format of searching for land to mine, resource management, warfare control and trust from your opponents.
The game is made up of many small Cog Clans, each struggling for survival. One clan though has a monopoly (The Eighth House), which controls small things like the all-important Gate Network, along with a huge trading zone which they make all their money from. You will pay them for stuff, as they will almost certainly have what you need, but at a price of some resources.

As you play, you’ll discover that you are just a tiny fish in the tiniest drop of the metaphorical ocean that is the game world, and there’s a lot of stuff to explore. There is 4000x4000km of gaming universe to be exact, which should mean that you can go long distances without coming close to someone willing to destroy you for looking at their buildings. The more exploration you do, the more uninhabited islands you find, and the more resources you can mine and exploit. All of these islands have a limited amount of construction space on them though, so expansion is semi-forced on this basis. Your vehicles (which, by the way, are the backbone to your operation) rely on coal to travel and transport resources, and the buildings need metal, wood and stone to be constructed to make more vehicles, process stone, mine, or even defend yourself from unwanted enemies.
There’s also a little more than just a few people in the game too, and all of them are other real human players, not Non-Player-Characters. This brings into play the whole trust issue, where diplomacy with a player near your home island could either allow you to share your resources with them in exchange for using their gates, or to avoid them invading your home island.
And the gates themselves are extremely useful commodities unto themselves. You can take supplies to the Eighth House to exchange for information about your opponents or extra vehicles, some of which are not available through normal construction. The other really useful way of using the gates are for long-haul transport across huge distances. Need to move vitally needed supplies from one end of the gaming universe to another? Pay a small charge and you can get your stuff where it’s needed quicker than a Motorbike Courier on quiet roads. Feel the need to send your entire fleet of warmongering equipment to a weak point of your opponent’s empire without sending them through somewhere you know they will die in? Send them through the gates to your other gates nearer the target, and go on from there. The fun doesn’t stop there, of course. The human opponents can be teamed up with, be it temporarily or to further both empires in the long term, and by exchanging gate codes with an ally you trust, you can use all of their gates for even more transport opportunities. Sadly, if that person betrays you, they can arrange it so Barry and his mates can leg it straight to your home island and attack your undefended mining operation.

Of course, everything in the game takes time to happen. Sure, construction in Command and Conquer may have taken a minute or a few seconds to complete, but here it takes a lot longer. You could be sat waiting for a unit to be constructed for a few minutes, maybe even half an hour. Sending your ships between islands can take possibly hours if they are really far apart. Indeed, in the times I waited for ships to travel to new destinations and I had nothing else to do in Time of Defiance, I had to kill time by doing something constructive, and it’s the first time I have listened to a Linguaphone-style course whilst playing a game. If you have a busy life, then there’s nothing wrong with logging in once every few hours to prepare some instructions in a queue, and then continuing to work in real life whilst Time of Defiance carries out all your commands for you.

As a game, it’s damn fun, and it’s one of the few games out there that you don’t have to dedicate hours a night to playing, but you can if you want. Armchair strategists will enjoy the slow pace of battle, whilst micro-management nuts can wrap themselves in island-hopping heaven.


Practically nothing wrong at all.


Laid out well, everything where you would expect it to be, and units represented as you would half expect them to look like.


Scarce music, but close-up sounds of machines are pretty well done


Time of Defiance is like a fine wine of gaming: You take it slowly, relax, and enjoy what unfurls.

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