Guest Author - Steven Blair
X-COM: UFO Defense came out in 1994 from one of my favorite game developers: Microprose. It was released with several alternate names in different countries such as the US, Europe (Enemy Unknown), and Japan (Michi Naru Shinryakusha). Iím not a big combat strategy game fan, however, this old PC game was and still is one of my favorites.
X-COM stands for eXtraterrestrial COMbat. You are funded by all the major international powers, and depending on how well your performance is defending the people of earth against the invading force of aliens, you will see an increase or decrease of funds. You start the game with a base of operations at any location of your choosing, two fighter planes for aerial combat, a transport plane to deliver your soldiers, and a squad of soldiers aching to get in on the alien killing action. Your mission is simple, you must figure out where the alien threat is coming from, figure out how to get there, and destroy them.
Setting up your base on the global map is pretty simple, and it wonít be long before your radars pick up alien activity. First youíll send out your jet fighters to take down the alien. If you shoot down the craft over land it will be time for the next big part of the game, alien interception. Youíll need to send out a squad of soldiers to take out whatever might be left from alien craft, and bring back any types of technology left. If victorious, your scientists back in the labs will be able to study the alien artifacts and bodies your soldiers collected. Once you understand their technology you will be able to use it.
By the end of the game, you will have studied their weaponry, armor, and propulsion systems and through intimidation of live aliens you have captured, you will be able to figure out where the enemy is and take the battle to them. If you do not defend the planet well enough, however, the governments of the world will sign secret pacts with the aliens and allow them free movement through their countries. The loss of finances from these countries will make it more difficult to study and build the technologies needed to defeat the rising alien threat. If you do not protect the countries well enough the aliens will eventually take over the planet. Game Over.
One of the best aspects of this game is that it is non-linear. There are no set missions, only objectives. However, the longer you take, the tougher the aliens get. Ground combat was my favorite aspect of the game. Although really tough at first, the combat is turn based involving multiple soldiers. Each soldier has unique stats that go up with combat experience making some soldiers better and faster than others. After you have studied the aliensí technology, you will get better guns, flying armor, and mind control capabilities.
The graphics in X-COM are very good for its time. The sound however can be very poor. One of the gameís downfalls (even with a collectors edition that came out in 1998) is that the game is not compatible with windows XP. Several patches have been made however by the games huge fan base. No support for XP is offered at this time from Microprose.
X-COM: UFO Defense had two sequels: X-COM: Terror from the Deep and X-COM: Apocalypse. I will be writing a review for both of these titles in the coming weeks. For now, I hope you enjoy playing X-COM.
Buy X-COM Collecters Edition on Amazon.com
Buy X-COM: UFO Defense on Amazon.com