Written by  :  Kasey Chang (4620)
Written on  :  Jun 07, 2001
Platform  :  DOS

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Probably the only playable real-time tactical combat game...

The Good

The pause-able real-time combat mode is great, plenty of terrain and buildings (most are destructable), good mix of weapons, lots of alien environments too, enemy reinforcement portals you can actually blow up

The Bad

Too many aliens to fight, no more base designing (the building's "fixed"), the factions have little to no effect on the city or economy, the neo-retro look, can get REALLY repetitive

The Bottom Line

XCOM:Apoc is a game that revolutionized real-time tactical combat. The ability to choose between real-time and turn-based combat reveals entirely new ways of playing, as each mode requires completely different tactics and weapon choices.

The maps now feature plenty of floors that are much larger than the old XCOM maps. You can visit the slums (where the gangs usually hang out) and see the architecture different significantly from the rich sections of town, which is yet different from the industrial sector, and so on.

The terrain now is even MORE destructable than before. Once, I've shot someone on a slum balcony. The balcony collapsed and the body fell six floors. Pretty darn amazing... Consider this is just isometric sprites!

The basic game premise didn't change: you have to engage UFOs and exterminate any aliens you find, either infiltrating the different corporations or causing general mayhem. After you take down the UFOs or located infiltrations, you can engage in tactical combat. Research captured aliens/bodies/equipment so you can make use of them for youself, and build bigger/better equipment, and eventually deal with the problem once and for all, while managing your research, budget, building new stuff, buying new stuff, hiring new people, make all the factions happy or at least neutral... it's a lot of responsibilities.

The problem with APOC is frequently, the game becomes just "hunt down that last bug". On tight maps, the bugs don't attack that much, which makes seeking them out dangerous as you must search room to room for that one last "bug" to kill. This was a problem in TFTD, and it still didn't get resolved, though aliens do try to escape if they're close to edge of the map and things are going bad.

Another problem with APOC is the huge amount of damage the weapons cause. It feels somewhat unbalanced. The armor aren't that much better, and there's an "entropy missile" that actually strips armor from your XCOM troopers! One hit, and the trooper is without armor. One more hit (from just about anything) and s/he's toast! At least you can carry personal shields (if you can capture/manufacture some), but that just delays the inevitable. In later stages, when enemy carries only the toughest weapons and visibility is bad, expect to lose a LOT of your agents in assaults.

The craft combat (CityScape) phase is also a bit unbalanced, as it's easy to win with a fleet of Hoverbikes. The larger vehicles are only useful for delivering your agents to buildings in a single group and return with captured stuff.

All in all, XCOM:APOC is not a bad title, but it didn't quite have the "magic" like the initial title did. Individually the features are fine, but they don't quite all fit together as a whole. If you like XCOM, definitely give it a try. Even if you don't, give it a try to see how GOOD real-time tactical combat CAN be.