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Written by  :  Narf! (138)
Written on  :  Aug 10, 2000
Platform  :  DOS

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An exercise in squad tactics.

The Good

X-COM: UFO Defense has quite a bit of complexity for a game of its age. You have to manage a worldwide organization from its budget, on down to each individual soldier in tactical combat. And while there is a lot to keep track of, the interface is very straightforward if a little unwieldy. Managing the organization as a whole involves keeping track of funding, base construction, personnel management, and research/manufacture. This is all taken care of from the Geoscape screen. There is a wealth of information in the UFOpeadia, once you do research of course. Keeping track of you budget can be hard, what with paying salaries, maintenance costs, and vehicle leases. This can be counteracted by selling your newly captured equipment, just remember to keep some for research purposes. The management portion can get a little tedious, but it is only half of the game.

The tactical portion is really detailed for a six-year-old game. Squad tactics are important because any soldier left without backup will probably die. Once you arrive at the battle location, you must disembark from your transport and commence the alien hunt (here sectoid,sectoid,sectoid...). Depending on the alien mission, you might have to try saving as many humans as you can, which can get difficult depending on the alians present. The game tracks damage to the environment (gee sarge, that wall just got in the way!), and imposes line-of-sight rules (what you can't see,can and will hurt you). Tactical is my favorite part of the game, though it can take some time.

The Bad

I do have a few gripes about the game, such as difficulty. Even on the easiest setting, X-COM can be very hard to get started in. I tried the hardest setting once. I lasted a months worth of game time. While the tactical is my favorite part of the game, it has its issues. The environment damage makes getting through buildings to the aliens fun, but I don't understand how the rest of the building stays floating when the ground floor is blown completely away. And the line-of-sight rules can be a little screwy sometimes. There have been times when I could see the aliens, but could not shoot them (if I stick my head any farther around the corner, it'll get blown off!).

Chrysalids. #*!&%* Enough said.

The Bottom Line

The bad ponts are really minor gripes. In all, this game is very enjoyable, and has held up very well over the years. If you like sci-fi types of strategy games, its worth a look. Some software stores still carry the UFO Defense, Terror From The Deep, Apocalypse pack for about $20-$25.

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