A couple of confessions to start this one: First, I loved Missile Command back in the day. I remember playing it on my old Macintosh LC II, when it were still a relevant machine. Second, I don’t really play very many mobile games, despite the fact that I like the idea of them more than a lot of other current gaming trends. Ballistic Command is, at it’s core, just an updated, modernized version of the old classic; the gameplay is fundamentally the same, and it’s a type of game that really suits the mobile platform very well — after all, what better way to capture the utility of a touch-screen than a game with a fundamental “click various points” play?
The basic gameplay is pretty simple, and, like I said, basically no different from the old classic. You’ve got a row of buildings down below, missiles coming from above, and your own countermeasures to fire upward, making a small explosion that will destroy whatever touches it. On my initial playthrough, I was happy to see just how close to the old game it stuck, though with some pretty great graphics improvements and an interesting coin-harvesting mechanic. After that first run, though, the differences started becoming clearer. The coins you collect through combo kills and mines (as in, a building which is built to extract things from the ground) can be spent on upgrades, one-off gifts for your next run, or to unlock new building types. You can swap out any of your five buildings for any of the building types you own. You begin with two missile launchers, two mines, and a shield generator, and can add in others that increase your ammo capacity or production or which offer automated defenses against the incoming onslaught.
The upgrades, variety of buildings, and strategy of choosing which of each of these to roll out with gives the game a lot of potential replay value and a good mix of different styles of approaching the same situation. I’ve toyed around a bit with some of the automated defenses, as well as a pretty good number of upgrades. Packages containing power-ups fall from the sky as you play, as well, offering everything from coins and shield boosts to time-stops and different styles of missiles for your launchers. These keep the play fresh, even though they do repeat often, and give you some pretty unique opportunities to keep yourself alive, especially since the packages can be left sitting on the ground indefinitely, to deploy when you need what’s inside; the boxes are marked with small logos that clue you in to their contents, and you’ll learn what each of those are pretty quickly.
Really, I think the kicker to all of this is that it’s a free game; while there’s ads supporting it, as we’ve all become used to by now, they’re not as intrusive as I’ve seen in a lot of mobile games, and I never ran into the game begging me for funds by way of microtransaction — a really great departure from the “big name” developed free mobile apps out there. I’d happily throw a few bucks to get rid of the ads as a matter of convenience, but really, I’d have been happy to throw the relatively-standard $2-5 up for this game anyway. It’s a solid, well-designed game that stays true to the classic, while introducing more than enough new content to be interesting in its own right. I’d recommend anyone that was a fan of the old Missile Command give this a shot — and, if you’ve never played it, try this and see how you like it.
[+Great update to a classic] [+Variety opens up strategic options] [+Free] [-Sound is weak] [-Can’t pay to disable ads]