Posted: September 30, 2014
I purchased a copy of this game in the late 90's for DOS. It was the first X-Com game I owned, but not the first turn based strategy. I still have not completed it, as I never played it on an easy difficulty. What is the fun in that? It remains one of the best games I have ever played. And I will tell you why:
- This game, unlike the original X-Com and the new X-Com offers nearly limitless tactical combat. Every part of the environments you fight in, except the base ground itself, can be utterly destroyed. My favorite tactic was to equip all my soldiers with high explosive weapons and literally blast the landscape apart. You cannot destroy certain parts until you unlock technologies later in the game, but eventually you can destroy pretty much everything. The best armor has a hover option like the others. You can use motion scanners to map out enemy movements and plan your strike room by room. You can use motion detecting mines to lock down/minimize enemy flanking movements. You can equip a stunning melee weapon and charge unprepared aliens. If you encounter an unwinnable situation you can recover as much gear as possible and evacuate your remaining troops. Even light plays a factor, you can use flares and phosporous weapons to reveal enemies at longer distances, night missions are horribly difficult.
- The AI is fantastically brilliant, for the most part. Sometimes Aliens will seem to wander randomly, however, once they "know" you are there, they are deviously adept at tearing apart your troops. It really takes a strong tactical strategy to take them down when on a ground mission. On the overworld, the UFO sightings are not random, they are actually building forces, completing objectives, and growing in power over time.
- The research projects are wonderful, they are complex enough to require a serious effort in maintaining a technological paralell with the enemy, while not so overburdened to make useless items.
It isn't a perfect game, there are some notable issues:
- There are bugs with the research tree that make the game unwinnable if not researched in the right order. There are in game fixes to this but they are near impossible to figure out without a guide. Research these before you seriously play the game, or get a community-made patch that fixes it.
- Sometimes you may click the wrong spot or accidentially click as you are examining the battlefield and your soldier performs the wrong action or leaves himself horribly exposed. This is an unfortunate side effect of the way the engine was made. Save often.
- This game has a hard hard learning curve. You will have to restart several times a-la Dark Souls to actually learn how to play the game.
You should play this game. Do it now. :)