Missile Command is one of the most famous of the classic arcade games of the 80's. What does this game do to change the classic experience, for better or worse?
There are four mode to choose from. You can play either classic (exactly the same as the arcade cabinet) or "evolved" (read below for more info). Both of these modes have a "throttle monkey" mode, which speeds up the game multiple times and you only get four cities for extra challenge. All of these modes come with their own leaderboard so the game still has a reason to make you want a high score.
The game itself is the same in all of the game modes in core concept. You control three missile towers that only have ten shots each on every wave. You need to protect six cities (four in throttle monkey mode) from an onslaught of missiles coming in waves. They break up into multiple missiles as they get closer. As the waves progress the missiles come faster, ships come to shoot more missiles, and "smart bombs" come which can dodge your attacks. Every 10,000 points, you get an extra city to take the place of a city you lost. If you haven't lost one, the city will be put in reserve and will replace a city whenever one is destroyed.
Differences Between Evolved and Original
Note: If these changes seem unpleasant, you can always choose to play on the classic mode instead.
"Evolved" is the game mode most of the achievements focus on, and is intended to be the normal mode of the game. It is very similar to the original in most ways. The notable changes are as follows:
Graphics Don't worry, I don't really care about the graphics. But it IS a difference
Probably the most obvious to the casual observer, the graphics in the evolved version have been upgraded to the point where it would be appropriate on the PS2. There is nothing wrong with that. I don't expect my games to all to push the 360 to it's limits, especially games made in 2007.
However, the daytime levels are extremely bright, enough so that in order to see the missiles at all I must turn down my TV brightness by ~30%. With no game options to turn the game brightness up and down, this means you will constantly be changing the TV brightness settings every time you get on and off the game. Additionally, the new effect for when your missile launchers shoot is an electric bolt which makes it difficult to judge how long it will be until you destroy the missile.
The most important to the hardcore classic gamer, gameplay hasn't been changed a whole lot. The most notable change is that things seem to have been made easier. The levels don't contain as many missiles. Ships don't come until wave 3. Smart bombs don't come until wave 10 and only come one at a time until wave 17. Essentially, the difficulty curve is broadened out. It will eventually get to the same difficulty you would expect from the classic, but it will take a while to get there.
Note: The achievements have no bearing on my final score, however, I need to mention them since this is an achievement site and this is an important factor to many people on whether they will buy the game or not
The achievements in this game are mostly focused on the "evolved" mode, with 10/12 related to the "normal evolved", and 1/12 related to the "throttle monkey evolved" game mode. Only one achievement can be obtained on classic mode, but is the rarest one.
Missile Command's achievements are difficult to obtain, and the game is one of the hardest arcade games to complete. The game has a TA ratio of ~4.6, and none of it is because it is time consuming. All of the achievements could technically be obtained in less than a hour, if you had the skill. Unless you are a hardcore Missile Command player, you could likely plug in dozens of hours into the game and still be missing more than one of the hardest achievements. Therefore, if you are worried about perfect completion, you will unfortunately probably have to miss out on playing a port/remake of one of the best arcade games of all time.
Despite a few flaws, evolved is a solid game mode for newcomers, and the classic and throttle monkey game modes offer a nice challenge for hardcore players with the leaderboards allowing them to show off the skill they have at this game. This version doesn't offer anything drastically new, but it doesn't need to. Missile Command is a fun, simple game that proves classic games can stand the test of time.