Review: Atomic Command (The Mini-Games of Fallout 4)

This was originally published at The Edge SUSU on 2nd December. 

Next in our series of pointless reviews of meta games is a look at Fallout 4’s Atomic Command. As with Red Menace, the mini-game is an homage to a retro classic, in this case Atari’s Missile Command. 

As with its fellow holotypes, Atomic Command is a well observed parody of 50s U.S propaganda. The game has you take part in defending major american landmarks from nuclear bombs. Said landmarks range from the Golden Gate Bridge, the Space Needle, the Las Vegas sign, Mount Rushmore, Boston’s Custom House Tower, and the Statue of Liberty. Representing the entirety of the U.S via this metonymy, the game implies that all the major cities are under threat from Chinese invasion, from New York to D.C.

Missile Command is perhaps one of the most logical games to give the cold war satire treatment to, as this new context barely even changes the look of the game. As for your objective, you control a missile defence turret and have to fire a limited amount of projectiles to deflect incoming missiles. The trick is to judge which missiles are worth shooting down, as some will miss their targets altogether. As well as this, impeccable timing is pivotal, as a well placed shot can take out multiple bombs in one go. At the end of each level, players will be scored on their performance, receiving bonus points for each city left standing and each missile left unused.

Unlike with Red Menace, once you’ve got to grips with Atomic Command it’s actually not too punishing, which is rare for an arcade inspired game. This is because there’s much more room for error. You can usually get away with a couple of casualties, and can even get lucky after losing all your ammo and watch as all the enemy bombs miss their mark. That’s not to say that skill isn’t required, just that’s its more accessible than some of the other holotypes. Which is probably what you want from a meta-game, especially when it doesn’t reap any rewards in the actual game itself.

Fallout 4 is available now on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. 

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