(More old ST Review stuff from the 90’s)
Missile Command 3D
The Cold War over? Not on the Jaguar. It’s still very much alive. Save your cities from thermonuclear destruction!
Atari continue their fascination with the past and unveil Missile Command 3D, their latest reworking of an arcade classic.
For those who aren’t old and crusty, Missile Command was a huge hit in the early eighties during the time Atari reigned supreme as top dog in the arcades and home. You have six cities to defend and three missile bases to do this from. Waves of nuclear missiles, smart missiles, aircraft and satellites all take turns at trying to demolish your cities. You have to shoot these down. The tricky bit is that your missiles take a little while to reach their targets so you need to predict their trajectory and aim ahead of the incoming targets. Every 10,000 points you get a new city to replace any that have been destroyed. When all six cities are gone, it’s game over.
Missile Command 3D comprises of 3 very different games, Original, 3D and Virtual. First out is Original which unfortunately bears little resemblance to the arcade game. It looks rather like someone did this from memory. It plays OK but really isn’t worth getting excited about.
Next comes the 3D version. Now, this is more like it. The game is played from the perspective of the ground looking up. Once again, you have 3 missile bases to fire from but now you see the warheads with their plumes coming down at you. Very eerie. The sky is much wider than your field of view so you need to make good use of the radar to know where to look next. A neat twist is that surviving cities can have their tech levels increased allowing you to ultimately build extra weapons. The smart bomb is especially useful when things get frantic on later levels.
The final version is Virtual mode. This adds all kinds of extra bells and whistles such as weapon powerups, underwater, sky and space stages as well as end of level bosses. Virtual mode is similar to 3D but requires a more tactical method of play as different weapons suit different targets and if you use them up too early you’ll be in big trouble. Be careful not to get too tempted by powerups though as time wasted collecting these can result on incoming missiles reaching their targets. Enemy craft also swarm about dropping bombs which can easily be missed so extreme vigilance is the name of the game.
Original mode apart, the graphics and fine enough. The intro screen is excellent with the camera view zooming about what appears to be corridors until it pulls back to reveal the words ‘Missile Command 3D’. The 3D modes have nice glint and lens flare effects as you pass the sun making it look like your playing through a camera. There is some simple but effective use of texture mapping in the 3D objects. Rather oddly, the spinning VR logo that appears when the game is first started is the most appalling effort at 3D I’ve ever seen and wouldn’t look out of place on a Commodore 64.
The music is in typical Jaguar style and adds a suitable techno ambience to the proceedings. Sound effects are generally good although I’d have liked the right noises on the original version.
Missile Command 3D was originally designed for use with the aborted VR headset project. Given the last minute change, it holds up pretty well. Playing the 3D versions does make me wish Atari had persevered with VR though. Playing this game with a VR helmet on would have been quite an experience. As it stands, it’s still a fine blast. It may not impress your friends but it certainly has the proverbial ‘Just one more try’ feel about it.
Product: Missile Command 3D
Contact: JTS Atari
Telephone: 01753 xxxxxx
Min System: Jaguar
Highs: Addictive, excellent point of view graphics.
Lows: Original version poor, expensive, Virtual version needs more levels.
Hardly state of the art but seriously addictive blasting. 75%