Review by walruspark

Reviewed: 07/20/05

Timelesss classic... Still the best strategy game ever!

X-Com for any unfamiliar with the series is a turn based strategy game.

You are in charge of X-Com, the Extra Terrestrial Combat Force in charge of preventing alien takeover.

The concept is that Aliens are invading Earth and you must stop them in their path before they get chance to settle. X-Com must kill or capture aliens before they settle and spread. This is done by eliminating all aliens when they're spotted and also by using their technology against them by recovering their weaponry and technology then sending them back to your labs for analysing.

The combat side of the game starts on a Geoscape, which is a view of the World as a globe, here you choose the best place for your X-Com base. The time thing move is 1 real time seconds = 5 X-Com seconds. You can change to 1 sec = 5 mins, 1 sec = 1 hour etc...

Once you've planted your base you can start to adjust and alter to the base to suit your needs. This involves purchasing the right weaponry and making sure you aircrafts are stocked in the hangar. In the management aspect, you have various screens, one being the aircraft equip screen which allows you to buy new weapons and soldiers, adding to your various crew. A research development screen, a stocks/crafts screen and also a budget and statistics screen. You have a tight budget so it's best to use the cash well and initially keep your main ship well stocked.

When you're happy the management is satisfactory, you're ready to launch an attack. You can alter the time button to a steady rate then wait for an alien sighting, these can be crash landings or aircraft.

Should there be an alien ship crash, you can launch your crewed craft straight to the crash site. Or, you can track an alien craft should it be sighted. In this instance you have a tactical interceptor with to hit the craft, if successful, the alien craft crash lands, then you can go investigate the crash site.

This is when the main turn based action game begins. You investigate the alien site with a team of soldiers initially 8 or more if you bought them, on a light craft. This is crudely stocked with various weapons and equipment assigned to the soldiers and is to be used against the aliens. These are still feeble when used against the aliens.

The game is turn based; your craft lands and you see a landscape but only the areas the soldiers can see are visible to you. The screen is on the layers, you choose which best suits the current position. i.e., you see the first layer which is the floor, second layer, first floor, third layer the roof.

You carefully let your soldiers walk out of the craft into the environment, One by one until your time runs out. You'd typically move 3 soldiers out of the craft and just in the environment in one time unit, for example, one each side of the craft exit and one in front of the exit making the immediate landscape visible. The idea is to eliminate or bring home all the aliens in the site, there will be maybe 3 or 5... It's random. If an alien is spotted you can use an assault move on him, i.e., throw a grenade or rifle shot, but only if you have enough time units left. When your time runs out or you select the aliens to move, the aliens take their turn doing whatever they wish. That could be to move closer to the soldier’s top launch an attack, launch a long range attack when you wouldn't know what had hit you, or simply move further away and hide.

During this, the game is very engrossing with hugely atmospheric due to the fantastically eerie music and sound effects. This adds to the general tenseness of the game. The landscapes are so random and hard to grasp, this makes the game so harsh and unforgiving but in a fun way.

If you can, you're to stun an alien when in the turn based battle game and then bring back to the X-Com base. Here's scientists can study the aliens and also any weaponry or alien artifacts brought back...

If a new weapon is analysed and understood, the weapon plans can be sent to a development team to be produced and used as weaponry against the aliens.

Again, this all depends on your budgets and cash which you get from countries thanking you for good work, like a performance related pay... If you have the cash you can assign several researches to one item, this will make the knowledge and technology come much quicker.

As the game progresses, you get an idea of how to take the aliens on, and then they take on a whole new notion as they learn how to take you on with more affect. So again, you're always one step behind them. There's even a Psion ability in which you can take over aliens mind if you research the ability.

When more and more battles are won and more science is discovered, you get to build more X-Com bases whilst mastering the alien technologies and halting their threat. It's worth the effort and the end, although difficult to reach has many twists and turns and absurd surprises.

When you look at X-Com as a game, it's still not been topped in 10 years and although the graphics may not look amazing, the depth of gameplay, open-endedness and amazing atmosphere created by the audio simply makes this game amazing.

This is a very deep game recommended for any strategy fans... Just expect to lose a large chunk of your life playing this!


Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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