In the 90s I was a huge fan of the X-com series. The game I played the most was actually the second and third instances; X-COM: Terror from the deep And X-COM: Apocalypse. These two games, along with the first one of course, are possibly some of the best games ever made.
I recently purchased the entire package, but haven’t got around to try the sequels, but from what I’ve heard they were not as good as the first two or three games.
Even though the company behind the original series is long gone, there’s finally a long anticipated X-COM game coming out.
The new game X-COM: Enemy unknown, is basically a remake of the original X-COM game. UFO defense.
Remakes like this usually doesn’t excite me that much, cause they usually end up being to different, or to similar to the original. Don’t get me wrong. I want a remake to keep the original concept, and improve upon it. Developers are walking a fine line with games like this. Sometimes they just end up being the same game with improved graphics, or they get streamlined to the point where hardcore fans won’t like them. The whole streamlining and dumbing things down to make games appeal to a broader audience has been the problem with many games for me over the past few years.
So what about X-COM: Enemy Unknown?
Well, my first impressions are positive, Even though I have mixed feelings about some of the things in the demo. I know this is only a demo, and things might be very different in the full version. The demo version contains two missions (even though one is a very basic tutorial, along with a quick look at base management. It’s really difficult to say anything about the gameplay outside of missions from this demo, because there just isn’t enough to tell. Hopefully, squad management, research and other aspects of the “macro” game will be as good as the original.
At a glance, the combat is very similar to the original game, but some things have changed. First of all, it seems like they made squad members more specialized. This may or may not be a good thing. They have also simplified, or.. dumbed down the movement system. It’s been a while since i played the first game, but from what I remember, there was a point system to determine how much, and what a squad member could do during a turn. Now, everyone can move twice (or once if you dash). Soldiers now, also rely on abilities to use weapons instead of what you put in their inventory. I read somewhere that there is an inventory system in the game as well, but I didn’t see it in the demo. The demo has a lot of cutscense during combat. They are good, but I’m not sure if they’ll get repetitive or take away from the experience in the long run. During the demo missions, every time one of my squad members got shot at there was a cutscene where I could see the enemy, one of the great things in the original was that something could come out of nowhere and blow half your squad up without you even having a chance to spot the enemy. I remember this especially well from terror from the deep, where I had some really sad moments when most of my veterans got killed in a single explosion (My best guy with a missile launcher got infested and turn on the rest of my team lol). Hopefully this game will have moments like this as well, I’m just afraid that they’ve taken away to much of the tension in combat. In the original, you were really scared to enter an unexplored area, moving slowly to avoid nasty surprises.
Despite the flaws I find in these tutorial style missions, the game looks really promising and I’ll probably buy it upon launch. Firaxis has done some great things in the past, even though I’m not a huge fan of what they did to the Civ series with Civilization V.
I just have a feeling that they’re trying to add stuff to the game to make it appeal to people who didn’t play the original. They already have the attention of everyone who liked the original X-COM. They might succeed, cause there isn’t many games like this coming out today. I can’t think of any game very similar to this since, well, since X-COM: Apocalypse, that could also be played in real time. There has been a few games with turn based, squad based combat, but when you add the base management to that, I really can’t come up with anything since 1997.
I’ll add a few screenshots jsut to show what the game looks like, but if you want to try it out, the demo is currently available on Steam.
Here’s some screenshots form the original X-com for comparison.