X-Com: UFO Defense – Throwback Thursday

X-Com: UFO Defense – Throwback Thursday

Just a couple years ago in 2016, we were given XCOM 2, a sequel to the 2012 tactical turn based sci-fi game XCOM. What many didn’t know back then, was the fact that XCOM was actually a remake of a classic gaming franchise that started strong, had its dips, then sort of just became garbage. This classic was X-Com: UFO Defense, and was made in the seemingly now distant year 1994. You take the reigns of the secret international organization, Extraterrestrial Combat, or X-Com and are charged with the research of alien technology and defense of the Earth and all its people from this interstellar menace.

X-Com UFO_Geoscape

The game takes place in one of two phases, the Geoscape where you see the world and can control time dilation, as well as manage your base(s), resources, and troopers; and the Battlescape, which comprised the pants-wetting terror of turn based combat with an unknown and terrifying enemy. In original Geoscape, opposed to the newer games, was one of my absolute favorite components, which was MULTIPLE base creation, enabling you to station different resources, interceptors, troops, and facilities. While this requires balancing against the overhead costs and income from selling alien tech vs your monthly income it was always amazing to get past that hump and be able to regularly shoot down alien craft and then pick up the pieces. Another great aspect of this game was that any of your bases could be assaulted as alien retaliation for your strikes. Got a base where you train a bunch of recruits and that’s it? Enjoy the murdered noobs. Store all your resources in one base for easy management? Whelp that’s gone in a poof of smoke and plasma. One of my favorite moments was the time that I figured this brilliant bit of AI out and started stationing guard troops in all bases and my most important base with my psychic training facility was located in Antarctica. The aliens typically targeted this base and was great because seeing the AI try to fight over a dozen leveled up psykers led to hilarity and a feeling that we were humanity and that humanity was not to be fucked with.

X-Com Humanity Fuck Yea
Note the 22 Troopers in power armor and the Hover-tank. Humanity Fuck Yea!

However that is not to say this game is easy by any means. Quite the contrary, the game (when properly patched) is much harder than the newer iterations. Additionally, the simple graphics do not deceive you into thinking this game is any less lethal. Starting missions typically have a 50% or higher casualty rate and even later on the threat of fatalities are always looming. The alien attacks are more sporadic at first and terrifying than the newer games as well, helped by the fact that instead of seeing shadows or anything, the game simply shifts to a fairly iconic Hidden Movement screen unless your troopers have line of sight on the enemies. One of the absolutely worst moments was finding out about the very memorable chrysalids and how they not only typically one shot your troops, but they also turn them into zombies until they later explode into more chrysalids. RIP Captain McDeathPants.

X-Com Chryssalid

My final feature to discuss from this was something that the new XCOM games did however carry over and include in their feature set. You can customize and rename your characters as they progress and are promoted and improve through their illustrious if short careers. The knowledge that your closest friends and family can either become heroes that single-handedly combat an entire terror mission on their own, or die failing to shoot an enemy from behind with a shotgun from 2 feet away makes every campaign memorable. Obviously hailing from almost 25 years ago, this game has a lower visual quality and the audio is rough but still charming like the original Pokemon games. The UI is also very confusing and almost a decade after first playing this game, I still don’t know what all those buttons do to be perfectly honest with you.

X-Com Disembark.gif

All in all, this game is pretty fun and you can get it on steam and enjoy the rage, frustration, and joy associated with this game. Its definitely an experience that most gamers should try, if only to see what its like to fly a rocket around 4 corners and detonate it in the middle of an enemy base for lols. So let me know if you played this back in the day or even recently and what you thought below and good luck, and good hunting commander!

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