Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hunting Game(s): X-COM and XCOM

Last week I posted a bit on the upcoming XCOM: Enemy Unknown (for 360, PS3 and PC). Taking a look through my Steam library, I realized I own the original, X-COM: UFO Defense. I don't know when it got there, it must have been in a pack with something else, but I was surprised enough to try it out, even though every YouTube video I've seen of it makes it appear to be highly dated -- like Oregon Trail, but with aliens.

I was wrong.

Well, it is dated, but it is NOTHING like Oregon Trail. In fact, it is one of the most in-depth strategy games I have played to date, and I keep restarting before I get terribly far.

The Earth is in the process of being invaded by aliens. It is your job, as the leader of a secret, paramilitary organization, to stop the invasion and defeat the aliens.

Seriously, though, they are pretty serious about putting you in charge. Not only are you in control of creating and maintaining bases, watching out for aliens, and then beating them up, you actually have to finance everything, conduct research into advanced human technologies and studies of alien tech, as well as hire troops, name them, and then hire a bunch more when your entire army gets decimated by an advanced alien landing party.

It is difficult. This is partly because the UI is clunky and certain things we take for granted today are not present -- you have to choose every character's load out (and there are a bunch of them, I think starting ships let you take 14 soldiers/several Heavy Weapon Platforms on each mission) at the beginning of each mission and it is impossible to check their stats at that point -- hopefully you named them something cute that helps you remember who can shoot straight and who's a coward (I name all my cowards "Fodder").
So... Many... Soldiers...

The game play is spread between managing your bases, building them up so they can produce what you need and detect enemy ships, and then completing missions. Missions appear when you shoot down alien ships, find them landed, find a base they've created, aliens find your base, aliens decide to decimate a large population, and that's just what I've seen so far -- I don't know if there will be more or not.

The aliens are pretty diverse as well -- Sectoids are stereotypical little grey men with bulbous heads, while Mutons are big, ogre looking bastards. And there are several enemies I have yet to see (because I mismanage things and go broke, apparently).

If you are looking for a deep strategy game and don't mind that it's a bit on the vintage side of  thing, there is no better place than X-COM. It is also serving to get me amped for the upcoming game which, while updated and streamlined (aka simplified) compared to UFO Defense, looks amazing.

I'll be getting it for PC if anyone is interested in trying out the multiplayer, which is featured in the video below:

See you there!

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