Written by  :  James P. Wong (2450)
Written on  :  Jan 23, 2004
Platform  :  DOS

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Exemplary game and my first turn-based strategy game...

The Good

Investigate UFO sightings, down the UFO and investigate the crash. Attack if the enemy is hostile.

In the case of X-COM, the enemy is always hostile. Locales range from city streets to small farms. The defense force? A small number of troops that the player can name and customize.

X-COM started the player off with a few characters to hire and a budget. As a result, it made gamers take special care of their troops with each mission while making the best of home base: researching aliens and their craft and other technology.

If you lost one of your more experienced (i.e. strong stats, attack points, etc.) troops on the field, that was it - you lost them for good.

The game also captured a very eerie atmosphere for a turn-based game. Sometimes a mission would involve exploring a farm in the pitch black of night, with only lights from the troops to see just a few feet around. I know others understand how startling it may have been to follow along a fence, turn the corner and then suddenly realize that a Sectoid was right in their face. Were there enough action points to do something else? ;)

A tense atmosphere and solid, turn-based gameplay were X-COM's staple features. The graphics are bright and colorful even for the duller more haunting missions. Randomly generated levels kept the game fresh every time.

The Bad

I never paid too much attention to the "base management" side of things as much as other players may have. I was primarily interested in the combat. Of course, this led to difficult missions because I wasn't researching enough or spending enough time on other base-related events.

The Bottom Line

X-COM is one of the forefathers of today's turn-based strategy games. Chances are that any of today's solid turn-based titles derive some inspiration from this game.