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atari missile command
Written by  :  Dr. Elementary (297)
Written on  :  Dec 29, 2002
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars

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A pretty good game (if you like micromanagement).

The Good

First off, it is graphically awsome. If you have the power to run at full details, it's rather stunning. Sadly, you need a beast to be able to run at full details, and not lag in games, especially 4v4.

This is a fast game, and I like fast games. You'll need to make quick decisions to be able to get anywhere levelwise.

This brings up the micromanagement. This game requires a very large amount of micro. If you aren't able to manage every unit in a battle, you're going to lose games. Being able to spot which unit is getting hurt, and moving it away; being able to cast hero spells as soon as they are available; never having a break in production (all at the same time) is crucial to winning. Luckily, the population limit is so low it's a bit easier. The population limit is 90, but it's essentially 70, because once you go over 70 you start paying 7 gold as "upkeep" for every 10 gold you mine. Once over 40, you pay 4 gold for every 10 mined. And, of course, almost nothing takes only one population point. The armies are quite small compared to previous RTS games.

The heroes are a nice RPG twist to the RTS genre. Each race (Night Elves, Undead, Orcs, and Humans) have three heroes from which to choose. Each has strengths and weaknesses. The hero you choose at the start can, and should, greatly effect your tactics in the game. For example, if you are Humans and playing vs an Undead, you would strongly consider the Paladin hero as one of your early choices, as he has a spell that not only heals your units, but harms Undead units. If you, as an Orc, decide to go for the Tauren hero, you will find that a defensive style is probably the way to go. Etc, etc.

The creeps (units controlled by the AI) are another interesting injection into this game. Special places on each map (a health fountain, fr example) are guarded by creeps, ranging in difficulty from terribly easy to terribly hard. Killing these creeps with a hero nearby allows him to gain experience, and therefore, more skills (just like an RPG, as mentioned). They also drop items which can be used by your heroes.

Lastly, if you just want to go online and play a game, it is simple as can be. Just a couple clicks, and Bnet will match you up with another person, within a certain level. Levels are basically a meter of your skill. More wins and you will go up in levels. Lose, and you could drop in levels. Beating high level people will give you bigger boosts then lower people. It is another RPG concept inserted into Warcraft III.

The Bad

The micromanagement can still get incredibly overwhelming, and if you don't keep up, it will quickly destroy you. Trying to process all the information isn't always easy for us people over 20.

The creeps have lead to several, shall we say, cheap tactics. On certain maps, it is quite easy for an orc player to quickly destroy VERY high level creeps, and have the experience go to their hero, without sacrificing more then a peon. This, of course, leads to a huge advantage within five minutes, and theres almost no way to overcome this.

The fact that you get so few units leaves little margin for error. Lose one little unit by mistake, and it could cost you the battle, and if you're not careful, the entire game. Losing a hero is even more catastrophic, as they can take a while to revive, especially at higher levels.

There is little variety. Each race has a pretty specific thing they do to win, and the only difference is who has the better micro. Sometimes you will be surprised by a different strategy, but not too often. It can get rather dull. I know of several high level players who do the same thing every game, no matter what they are facing, and they tend to win because their micro is insanely good. There's just not much you can do against that.

The Bottom Line

A decent, fun game. RPG elements help make it more then a simple RTS, but little room for error can make it a very frustrating experience.

Atari 50