Why X-COM Is the Greatest Game Ever

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Bostur:

It was a damn hard game, I don't think I ever managed to do anything remotely useful at a difficulty level higher than normal. Terror from the Deep was even harder though, the horror of going in with a team of rookies and encountering lobster men. If one dude got away with a few alien trinkets that would be considered a complete success.

lobster men wasnt that hard to kill with the right weapon. the real horror of those games for me was the damn chrysalid/Tentaculat that had an insane amount of TU and that could kill your soldier every time they get a hit on them

thiosk:

In the situation shown in the attached picture:
Do you: A: autofire the alien in front of you
B: autofire the alien further away (hoping to clip the one in front)
C: prime and drop a grenade
D: RUN LIKE THE WIND

Depends on the difficulty.

On lower settings snapshot the alien in front, minimizing the chance of losing the ufo power source. Assuming the 2nd sectoid doesn't turn, autofire at him then run out of the UFO and create a crossfire situation with agents 1 and 2, with the door in the middle. Any sectoid left in the craft will eventually panic and either drop arms and freeze or run straight out the door.

On higher settings, autofire the front alien. If he goes down, auto fire the 2nd (since it should be 14 TU's per autofire if my math is right) or give a 2nd volley into the first assuming he hasn't opportunity fired your agent down. Then run out the door and again either wait for the remaining sectoid to bleed to death or panic.

Bostur:
SOP when an undamaged UFO is spotted:

1. Get yourself and your buddy to a defensible position overlooking the entrance.
2. Call for backup.
3. When the team has arrived one man opens the door, empties his clip inside and steps away.
4. During the inevitable counter attack the rest of the squad provides cover fire, and hopefully will be able to kill them.
5. In case of failure plasma-bomb the landing site from orbit, only way to be sure.

I sure loved those missions where the aliens pre-empted Step 1 by mentally dominating the guy in your crew at the back of the troop carrier with the rocket launcher, who then proceeded to blow up your entire team, including himself. Good times.

As soon as my engineers were able to build those guided missiles, I'd always blow a hole in the roof of the UFO and send missile after missile into the hole, Gulf War 1-style. Such sweet revenge!

Yureina:

For my soldiers, I recruit large numbers of spare soldiers, then throw the new recruits with a team of veterans and a few officers. The recruits end up leading my forces in while my veterans and sergeants slowly follow, with the leader (usually a captain) hanging in the back. It pretty much means that recruits have a terrible life expectancy, but if they manage to survive and even gets some kills, they get a suit of armor (having "proved their worth") and I try to take care of their lives more. The result is that my team is a mixed of fresh-faces recruits and alot of kick-ass survivors, most of whom seem to have Japanese or German names strangely enough. :o

At one point I gave up trying to figure out what mix of stats would be good, and used a 'Darwin' approach similar to what you describe. Rookies that survived turned out to be quite good in the long run, there was some interesting simulation aspects to that part of the game.

cathou:

lobster men wasnt that hard to kill with the right weapon. the real horror of those games for me was the damn chrysalid/Tentaculat that had an insane amount of TU and that could kill your soldier every time they get a hit on them

The thing is lobster men could be encountered right at the start. They are insanely hard to kill with the stock assault rifle/harpoon. I found that the best way to deal with them was to ignore the rifle and simply use grenade spam. As soon as stun rods, stun grenades and the drill becomes available the lobster men are much easier.

Chrysalids were real horrors, but at least they could bleed like the rest of us. ;-)

I own both UFO Defense and Terror From The Deep in Steam, but I just can't get into them!, I need a freaking tutorial or something, I don't know what the heck am I supposed to do :(

EDIT: Okay, this got out of hand a bit more than I predicted... or maybe I didn't. Already got lots of suggestions and I think they're enough, thanks.

SupahGamuh:
I own both UFO Defense and Terror From The Deep in Steam, but I just can't get into them!, I need a freaking tutorial or something, I don't know what the heck am I supposed to do :(

You could always look at a guide. That might be anathema to some people, but it's something I am fine with. Besides, it's the kind of game where a guide can be helpful so you can at least have a basic idea of how some things work. :o

SupahGamuh:
I own both UFO Defense and Terror From The Deep in Steam, but I just can't get into them!, I need a freaking tutorial or something, I don't know what the heck am I supposed to do :(

You gotta read the manual.

I like the late game there are scenes that make you feel like a total badass. Your strategy for assaulting a mothership is no longer sending rookies up the elevator to get murdered to use up the enemy overwatch fire. Instead you pop a blaster bomb to blow a hole in the roof then send your squad in full flying power armor to drop into the command center then clear out from the top down.

SupahGamuh:
I own both UFO Defense and Terror From The Deep in Steam, but I just can't get into them!, I need a freaking tutorial or something, I don't know what the heck am I supposed to do :(

Terror is 3x as hard as UFO defense, do not attempt unless you are an expert.

Sigh...I've tried to get into X-COM twice now, and both times I'm just overwhelmed. I really want to like it, but does anyone have any good advice for just starting a new campaign?

Steve Butts:
At first, it's just hand grenades and rented jet fighters, but you'll soon graduate to flying suits of armor, mind control weapons and your own custom-built UFOs.

If you build it yourself you should be able to identify it, so it's not a UFO anymore.

Also, I'd just like to remind everyone of Xenonauts, the indie cold-war era X-Com that is definitely staying true to the formula.

I'm somewhat skeptical of Firaxis' X-com remake because PC will probably get a lame console port. I don't usually have much against consoles, but when they share a strategy game it results in an inferior product for both sides; e.g. Supreme Commander 2.

The strategy genre has no home on consoles to me. The most glaring examples of bad ports are RTSes, but that's just because I know of no example in which a turn-based strategy PC game has been ported to consoles.

What sells the game for me is the razor's edge you have to walk in managing the various aspects of your organization together with the FREEDOM you are given when it comes to how to do so. You are given a bunch of cash and the map of the world and told to get on with it. What you do from there on is up to you. And the game doesn't give a fuck about you. You allocated your funds into tons of new scientists and now can't afford ammo? Sucks to be you, I guess. You placed your bases in shitty locations and haven't been catching many UFOs wich in turn leads to your funding dropping? Your problem, deal with it.

The game gives you the tools you need and lets you suceed or fail with them on your own. And you need to balance all those tools out to perform well. You need stable research to keep the new tech flowing and get to the projects that move the main story along. You need manufacturing to put all the tech to good use. You need multiple bases as the game wears on to cover more of the globe and to not get your funding cut by neglected countries. And so on and so forth.

The fact that you never (until maybe very lategame) have enough funds and always need to cut corners somewhere is awesome. It makes the game feel like you're actually making decisions that matter. Nobody is holding your hand, nobody is guiding you, there aren't any scripted events for you to rely on. This is what really makes the game for me - it's the only game where I felt as in control.

Naturally, the tons of features that would be "discovered" by various genres later on didn't hurt. RPG elements, assorted tactical options, etc. The game was truly ahead of its time. Heck, it's ahead of THIS time as well.

Bishop99999999:
Sigh...I've tried to get into X-COM twice now, and both times I'm just overwhelmed. I really want to like it, but does anyone have any good advice for just starting a new campaign?

There are a few basic steps in the start that is a good idea to follow. Research is very important, make sure you assign your scientists to a research project. Also consider hiring a few more from the start. Research is how you progress in the game, and should be your main priority.

In the early game your objective is to intercept any UFOs you spot with the fighter craft, and clear the landing/crash sites with the transport ship. You don't have much fancy gear in the early stages, but it's usually worthwhile to purchase and equip some normal grenades. Also get some stun rods, they are very handy for close-up fights.
Before you send your transport ship to a landing zone, make sure its loaded up with your squad members and that they are equipped properly with weapons, ammunition and grenades.

In the tactical battles keep the turn-based system in mind. When you end a turn try to make sure your team is positioned so they can support each other, don't have people wandering alone. A common mistake is to try to spend all movement points each turn, sometimes it's better to end a turn early. If a squad member has movement to spare he can use it to fire during the alien turn in case something pops up. When possible try to end the turn behind cover or have your men kneel, they are harder to hit that way.
The aliens are meant to be very tough, you may not be able to kill all aliens everytime. Sometimes it's better to kill a few aliens, grab their stuff and fly away. The stuff you loot can be researched and used later.

The battles are much harder during the night due to sighting mechanics. Try to time your landings so you fight during the day. If you need to fight during night time make sure all squad members carry flares, you can use those to light up a small part of the map.

Bishop99999999:
Sigh...I've tried to get into X-COM twice now, and both times I'm just overwhelmed. I really want to like it, but does anyone have any good advice for just starting a new campaign?

I recommend this starter tutorial:

http://www.ufopaedia.org/index.php?title=Starting_Your_Shadowy_Paramilitary_Organization

Check out the rest of their entries for the game as well:

http://www.ufopaedia.org/index.php?title=X-COM

The best way to learn this game is with a friend who already knows how to play. Making tactical decisions to gether, taking turns on missions, and working out new strategies kept me awake all night when I was a student more than once. And it was an old game then. Nice to see all the love for it.

Hah, Someone else who's bought this game several times over. I loved this game in the 90's and I still can't get enough now, the gameplay was utterly amazing and, though I didn't appreciate it at the time, a big leap forward.

I wouldn't say Enemy unknown was the best game ever, but it's definitely up there (along with system shocks 1+2). In fact I wish more of the big developers would go back and look at games from the 90's, it could be confirmation bias on my part but it does seem that graphical limitations of the day forced devs to innovate gameplay more. Cf. today, where we seem to get "Even shinier shooter XI", or lazy franchise reboots a-la FPS (see Syndicate, and now delayed X-COM FPS). Not that shinier shooters are entirely a bad thing, even FPS reboots are ok *if* we also get a bit of risk taking and innovation in other games.

I have several play throughs saved on my computer. Somewhere. My favourite is still one of my really older ones in which I got lucky early on and managed to stun a Sectoid commander giving me psionic abilities pretty early on. At several points I ran through the Mars mission but it's always too easy as my flying-power-armoured, godlike-psionic armed with las-pistols, heavy plasma cannons and psi-amps. It is glorious.

LordofPurple:
I tried to love X-COM, and there really were things I absolutely adored about it, but CHRIST the battles started to drag on after awhile, and most of them ended up becoming a half hour-long game of hide-and-seek.

use tank units as scouts, and keep a team of at least 8, send two packs of 3 people and 1 pack of 2 people to sweep the map, keeps my battles between the 10-15 minute range.

Speaking of long games, I really loved the beginning of Silent Storm as well. But later in the game (with more enemies on the map) the enemy turns just took forEVER. That really killed the game for me.

That and the freaking armored robot tank suits. "Like shooting those enemies with your rifles? Well forget that, here are some walking tanks. Better go find some laser guns, man!"

Infernal_Dalek:
The strategy genre has no home on consoles to me. The most glaring examples of bad ports are RTSes, but that's just because I know of no example in which a turn-based strategy PC game has been ported to consoles.

I know of at least one: UFO:Enemy Unknown, the game the original article is discussing, which apparently holds a 9.0 on IGN just like it's PC predecessor.

Fireaxis makes their bread and butter through turn based strategy games, ie The Civilization series, a turn based strategy franchise, and is a studio whose founding members used to be part of (one of which co-founded) Microprose, the creators of UFO:Enemy Unknown.

I'm not saying it can't happen, but Fireaxis screwing this up has the same implications as water turning to blood and hale fire raining from the sky.

I really enjoyed X-Com Enemy Unknown and it's direct sequle Terror from the Deep. However if I were to make a new X-Com game the tactical battle system would probably be heavaly influenced by the Valkyria Chronicles games. Obviusly I'd include the base building, random encounters and verius other things but the tactical portion would be derived from VC.

I never played X-Com or any other X-com title, but I did play something similar judging from the gameplay and mechanics from X-Com gameplay and Terra-Pheonix. If Terra-Pheonix, Jagex Game Studio's web adaptation of X-Com, is anything like the original X-Com then i'm in for the coming X-Com sequel and spin-offs.

uzo:

Darth Sea Bass:
It's no good i think i'm gonna have to install it again! x-com and frontier i'd say are the two best games ever made!

Frontier? As in ELITE ??
<--- AVATAR OF AWESOMENESS

*ahem* Sorry .. someone mentions something vaguely to do with Elite and I squeal like a girl.

And btw ... I've seen a lot of mentions of X-Com recently .... and no one seems to be talking about the X-Com remake that was made in the Quake engine .... or is that against the rules?

I most assuredly do mean Elite! XD

Do you mean UFO: Extraterrestrials?

Well said, that man! X-com truly was a masterpiece of game design. And I can think of few games whose mere mention always prompts outpourings of nostalgic geek joy. I personally try and avoid superlatives, and it seems unfair to call x-com the "best game ever" but I'd definitely call it the best strategy game ever.

I'm with the others who've said it: I've tried many times but never completed it. I first owned it on the Amiga (5 floppy disks!) And I've remembered it fondly ever since. I must pick up the Steam version for old time's sake.

I think honourable mention should be made of UFO: aftermath. Among the very many commercial and personal attemps, over the years, to recreate the feel of the original; I think this came closest. The tactical combat wasn't the same, but it worked well and had some of the tense feel. It did, too, create the same sense of attachment to individual soldiers in your squad. The game was unforunately let down by its off-mission (geoscape) side, which was clunky, confusing, and shallow.

I look forward to the impending new version. If it even captures half of the magic of the original, it'll be excellent.

I used to beg my big brother to let me play this on his computer when I was a kid; always felt like a special treat! I bought the UFO remakes a few years ago but they weren't as good. Gonna definitely buy the Steam copies when I can!

(Writing this on my new smartphone. Oddly enough it was easier to do it on my old non-smartphone...)

But I thought the #1 nerd nostalgia fest was Planescape: Boredo- I mean Torment =P

SupahGamuh:
I own both UFO Defense and Terror From The Deep in Steam, but I just can't get into them!, I need a freaking tutorial or something, I don't know what the heck am I supposed to do :(

http://www.ufopaedia.org/

Found this pretty helpful when I started out, but a lot of people play the game different ways. Terror is still insanely hard for me, but the best tactics I can state for the original are these:

1. Never let a soldier go off on his own. Groups of two or three. Always.
2. Set movement to allow time units for a snapshot. Always. Means that if an alien shoots at your units during their turn you always have a chance to return fire.
3. Aliens are a bitch to fight in buildings. If they're not on the bottom floor with an easy way to shoot them just blow the building up (even in terror missions if there's civilians inside, because the civilians are likely screwed anyway in that scenario). I always bring a rocket or blaster launcher just in case. But keep the launcher unit back or have them just carrying it rather then having it equipped. Most X-Com soldiers seem to have no problem with nuclear friendly fire if an alien is a foot from another group of soldiers.
4. Just because only one soldier actually sees an alien doesn't mean the troops behind him can't shoot at it as well. Of course, there's the possibility of friendly fire, but sometimes its safer for the unit behind to take the shot so you can save your time units on your forward unit.
5. For terror missions, have your soldiers slowly spread out from the ship. Deploying smoke grenades at your landing zone is also a good way to avoid an instant massacre. The best tactic I've found is that you should try to secure the nearest corner of the map, and then expand slowly with a good distance between units.
6. Abuse save and load as much as possible haha.

I had read alot about it and awhile ago got it on steam only to be disapointed by the info for the controls etc. especially as it seems like a game i'd love. Because of this I have'nt really touched it since. Wondering if the original boxed version had a manual or something? If so, why wasnt it included as a pdf in the steam version.

Bostur:
Snip

Neverhoodian:

Bishop99999999:
Sigh...I've tried to get into X-COM twice now, and both times I'm just overwhelmed. I really want to like it, but does anyone have any good advice for just starting a new campaign?

I recommend this starter tutorial:

http://www.ufopaedia.org/index.php?title=Starting_Your_Shadowy_Paramilitary_Organization

Check out the rest of their entries for the game as well:

http://www.ufopaedia.org/index.php?title=X-COM

Many thanks!

Alright, here we go again...

Arcane Azmadi:
Amen. Even despite massive bugs (like the difficulty always defaulting back to the easiest setting) and a merciless difficulty curve (even despite said difficulty-affecting bug you could EASILY get wiped out when the aliens bring Blaster Bombs and psychic powers to the field) it's still an unsurpassed achievement in game design. Ahead of its time when it was released, and arguably ahead of its time even today.

FUCKING BLASTERBOMBS!!! The character representing me died because of those... After he had shot down like 3 of his squad, effectivley halving my firepower and numbers on a mission. *Sadface* Ofcourse when I manufactured my own blaster bomb launchers.... Well my mother got wierded out by my evil cackle that I let loose as I blasted the alien bastards to pieces :D

OT: Best game ever tbh. All it needs is a good sequel. So lets hope Firaxis gets it done!

As for the shooter X-Com... I'll have to qoute SpoonyOne,"BEEETRAAAAAAYAAAAAAAAAAL!!!! BETRAYAL!!"

Incidentally, has anyone else noticed that the standard of writing in this thread is unusually high? I take this to mean that X-com fans are a well-read lot. :-)

GaltarDude1138:
2010 it was Shadow of the Colossus, 2011 it was Deus Ex, this year it seems to be X-Com. Wonder what it'll be in 2013...

Actually, X-COM has been the best game ever numerous times -

"As of 2010, the game holds an average magazine review score of 93.60% for the PC version[24] and 92.90% for the PSX version,[25] according to GameRankings. According to Amiga HOL database, the various Amiga ports hold the average ratings of 79% on ECS/OCS Amigas,[26] 82% on AGA Amigas[27] and 73% for the Amiga CD32 version.[28]

Since its release, the game was named the #1 PC game of all time by IGN in 2000, 2007 and 2009; the #8, #12 and #21 best video game of all time by IGN in 2003, 2005 and 2007; the #7, #15 (by readers), #3, #8, #10, #10 and #11 best computer game of all time by PC Gamer in 1997, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010; the #22, #3 and #10 (by readers) best computer game of all time by Computer Gaming World in 1996, 2001 and 2001; the #2 best video game since 1992 by Pelit in 2007; the #35 best video game of all time by GameSpy in 2001; and the #78 best video game "to play today" by Edge in 2009. The game was also inducted into Computer Gaming World, IGN and GameSpot's Hall of Fame or equivalent in 2005, 2007 and 2003 respectively. In addition, the notorious Chryssalid alien race was ranked fourth on the GameSpot's 1999 list of the best monsters in gaming, in which X-COM was called "one of the scariest computer games ever""

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UFO:_Enemy_Unknown

And remember, it got that rating of better than 90% long before the days of giving everything 90% or better.

Anyway, I love X-COM (not as much as some here as the game that got me into the genre was Jagged Alliance 2, which still holds a truly special place for me) but I'm fairly well convinced that the remake isn't going to live up to what I loved about the original, with its extreme lethality, lack of story/personality for the troopers and game as a whole. That ment you could project your own on there, which is loads of fun and isn't restricted by having characters that "have" to live, anyone can die and they frequently do!

And of course, there is the problem that X-COM games are "hard" (They're not, save game body armour is just as effective as its always been if one can't handle it) which I think isn't going to carry over into this new game. Can't really see many younger gamers tolerating a squad wipe on thier first mission. I think there will be way more who'll go "this game is crap" and never play it again than there are gamers who'll plough through and take the time to learn the tricks of victory.

my roomate's aunt makes $83/hr on the laptop. She has been without work for 8 months but last month her pay was $8682 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on this site...Nuttyrich . com

The #1 spot should go to JA2, but UFO:EU (XCOM) is a great contender.
That means this article is incline for the Escapist.

Anyone who loves X COM should try laser squad nemesis. Created by the same people that made X COM, this is an unknown gem of a game.

It is a real-time turn-based multiplayer X COM tactical game. How can something be real-time AND turn-based? Well, instead of taking turns after each other, both players plan 5 seconds ahead and then the moves are executed simultanously.

4 Distinct 'races' to play with.

The marines (balanced, with a powerful grenade launcher)
The machines (armored but weak at spotting)
The swarm (cheap disposible units and a queen to lay eggs)
The greys (with shields and energy weapons)

I don't know why everyone shouldn't try this game.

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