Why X-COM Is the Greatest Game Ever

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X-Com is one of the few games that are perennially installed in my computers, along with Deus Ex (original), Master of Magic and Fallout 1. It is that good, although I admit I like more the sequel, Terror from the Deep and its Cthulhesque theme.

I am, like the writer, slightly flabbergasted at why this game has not received any decent adaptation or game inspired on it (worthy ones, I mean).

I can only groan in guilty pleasure in thinking what could be done with this kind of game with today's tech.

My only problem with xcom is it's hard to recapture the magic of your first few attempts when you've played the game for years. Remember when given the choice for research between fancy new weapons, armor or alien autopsies you'd actually sometimes go for the 3rd option just to have some idea of any weaknesses the monsters you face have? When you knew genuine terror at the hands of an unfamiliar foe? Or when you saw the chrysillad running around and figured it's a low priority target as it wasn't shooting at you....

Then you know the game intimitely and know ufopedia entries almost by heart so focus only on the important techs (the 3rd xcom did a better job of forcing you to investigate the aliens you killed and what they were, heck it was the only way to advance the plot) and are left with a 3 tier technology system (personal armor+laser>power amor+plasma> flying armor+blaster launchers) so in the long term this edges out Xcom as personal best game ever in favor of jagged alliance 2 (any chance you can do an article on that one? :D), but hey, the fact that my only complaint is after years of playing I know the game too well should be all that needs to be said about xcoms awesomness.

I guess all I wish was that the game was more mod friendly to keep it fresh for vet gamers, I do have a bunch of utility programs that randomize ufo layouts or add tileset from terror from the deep, but wish there was a way of spicing up the tech tree or adding in user made aliens (lore wise could just be another slave/conquered race of the aliens).

X-COM was a great game, but nothing beats Jagged Alliance 2.

13 years after its release, this game still has a dedicated fanbase that has created the awesomeness that is the V1.13 mod, which not only adds new gameplay concepts (suppression fire, fully automatic fire, a new inventory system based on the type of combat vest you're wearing, repeating firearms...) but also hundreds(!) of new weapons, ammo types, attachments and other neat stuff.

If you make it through this mod (and you probably will, seeing as how it is even more addictive than the basic game) you've successfully earned the right to diagnose yourself with Asperger's.

Bob_Marley42:
Snip

Oh no, I didn't mean to make a comment that it wasn't statistically, in fact, "the best game ever". I was trying to make a comment (which was pretty vague, I have to admit) that the "best game ever" is the one everyone reminisces and talks about all year. For instance, in 2010, the Shadow of the Colossus remake was announced, and everyone started reminiscing about how good that game was. 2011 saw the release of the Deus Ex prequel, and everyone started reminiscing about how good the original was. Now, 2012, Firaxis, the guys behind Civilization, are working on a sequel to another game everyone is now reminiscing about. And I wish those guys the best of luck, I've enjoyed their products before and I hope to again.

In short, I was trying to convey the notion that there's one beloved game every year that, thanks to some gaming news buzz, is again brought up for discussion. That's all.

Steve Butts:
. It's a bold claim, particularly for such an old game, but X-COM was years ahead of its time and no game since has ever managed to improve on it.

Actually, I think Terror from The Deep improved on UFO Defense. I found the graphical style of UFO Defense to be too cheesy for my taste with your stereotypical, stock alien types and weapons. Terror From the Deep and it's dark, cuthulesque style made X-Com what it was meant to be and the perhaps second best game ever.

The best is Ultima 7. ;)

how do you know when someone writes a good article? When you somehow went from surfing an article on the escapist to buying a game via steam...>.>

I missed this game on its initial release but it sounds amazing, I'm gunna be playing through it tonight.

Sandytimeman:

I missed this game on its initial release but it sounds amazing, I'm gunna be playing through it tonight.

One does not simply play through X-Com in "one night".

That being said, yes, yes it is. That's why I'm afraid the new version will screw everything up. Seriously, how can you do something better than the perfect game? (in this genre)

I hope it either turns out extremely good or extremely awful. Just not mediocre.

The3rdEye:

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.

I always played the DOS version, and it has a bug so that after saving the game, it reverts to low difficulty :( I found the game unforgiving enough to continue to be fun despite this bug.

I would say the best option is A, but arguments can be made for B.

First off, the player is stupid and executed an improper breach-- there should be a second crewman kneeling by the door to shoot emerging aliens and to cover his buddy, but thats neither here nor there.

Most likely, given the improper breach, he didn't save any time units anyway, so hes probably
hosed..

A single movement spent, even rotating, will cause the forward-facing alien to shoot you dead, and a single shot will most likely not kill the alien, so all you can hope for is to get two shots off before he responds.

A second strategy would be to shoot the distant alien, hoping either to kill the alien in front and then hitting the second alien, or, to get the second alien to return fire, killing the alien in front of you by mistake.

Unarmored troops with normal rifles though-- he probably doesn't have enough time units to prime a grenade after opening a door. Poor sap.

it came out at the right time to , x-files on TV , area 52, crop circles cattle mutilations on the news and x-com on the Amiga , taking a bunch of pistol/grenade spamming wishing you could open a door without walking through it and living in fear of those night time terror sites ;)

best game? i dont know but its got to up there it was without a doubt the one that taught me how to space and later save games;)

THATS WHAT ITS CALLED!! X-COM!

I have been playing this game called UFO: Alien Invasion. Its not bad, controls are shitty tho.

Time to get back to the DOS epic!

thiosk:
I always played the DOS version, and it has a bug so that after saving the game, it reverts to low difficulty :( I found the game unforgiving enough to continue to be fun despite this bug.

I would say the best option is A, but arguments can be made for B.

First off, the player is stupid and executed an improper breach-- there should be a second crewman kneeling by the door to shoot emerging aliens and to cover his buddy, but thats neither here nor there.

Most likely, given the improper breach, he didn't save any time units anyway, so hes probably
hosed..

A single movement spent, even rotating, will cause the forward-facing alien to shoot you dead, and a single shot will most likely not kill the alien, so all you can hope for is to get two shots off before he responds.

A second strategy would be to shoot the distant alien, hoping either to kill the alien in front and then hitting the second alien, or, to get the second alien to return fire, killing the alien in front of you by mistake.

Unarmored troops with normal rifles though-- he probably doesn't have enough time units to prime a grenade after opening a door. Poor sap.

Wow, I am saddened that this is the first time I've ever heard of that bug (and for the record I've always played the DOS version myself).

The lead agent does have 40 TU's left in the screenshot, and his squadmate has LoS to him and only 4 spaces to the door so that if #1 doesn't get cut down the crossfire is still completely doable. Intact ship assaults were always hair raising, one errant shot and *boom* there goes 250k. Having to fight Psi equipped aliens just made it that much worse, and playing the waiting game that much more likely to backfire.

I will say this though, TFTD had one design feature that actually made things easier in terms of tactics: more HWP friendly UFO's.

I have recently started playing Xcom for the first time, having been one when the game came out, I have not heard about it until recently. From somebody who has no nostalgia glasses I really have to say this is most likely the best strategy game I have ever played. My favorite moment so far has to be an alien using a buster bomb missing and blowing up 5 aliens wining me the mission.

This is why I'm so excited about Xenonauts, a new indie game. It's almost exactly like XCOM except with a decent UI, and a very modern looking geoscape with many hand-drawn art assets. It's also still in that lovely 2D nostalgia-gasm mode except you can view it at whatever resolution you want.

This is why I'm so excited about Xenonauts, a new indie game. It's almost exactly like XCOM except with a decent UI, and a very modern looking geoscape with many hand-drawn art assets. It's also still in that lovely 2D nostalgia-gasm mode except you can view it at whatever resolution you want.

I like to think of Frozen Synapse as the successor to the tactical, non management side of XCOM.

Sorry, but I have to disagree in that X-COM was not the greatest game ever made, nor the best turn based strategy, there are SEVERAL ways to improve it, like changing keyboard hotkeys (or just allowing you to make some) the difficulty curve was horrendous, and I swear that I quit playing the game because the games missions where you saw the battle became so boring, I couldn't stomach it any more, talk about slow paced gameplay.

By no means is X-COM bad, it needs a little tuning, and then I could consider it a great game.

this and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri hold a special place in my heart as being two games i snagged out of TJ-Max bargain software bins on clothes shopping trips with my mom as a kid, since they were about the only games cheap enough that i could afford them with what money my ten-to-twelve year old self had. combined, probably the best $12 i've ever spent.

X-COM and Syndicate. When I was in my late teens everyone else wanted to play Doom and Quake, you couldn't drag me away from these two games... aah the days when I was young enough to waste entire weeks on games....

Not the greatest, that's too subjective a claim, but for what it does it's pretty awesome. I remember lost days sitting at a 486 swapping floppies, Mountain Dew and quesadillas, and bug hunting sectoids while my idiot rookies freaked out.

Hell of a game, definitely looking forward to the next one (not the shooter).

Dang double posts

As someone who is untainted by nostalgia, having played x-com only recently, I don't really see why people are saying it's "the best game ever." It's a unique game, with interesting mechanics and masterful strategy, but it's hard to say it's the best game ever. Its story is b-grade sci-fi, its graphics pleasing but not a visual fest by any means, and its game play great but buggy and often unfair in such a way that makes no true logical sense (such why the starting rifle, even in the hands of a trained professional soldier, can't hit the broad side of a cyberdisk, even from a mere few feet away some times).

The point is that calling something the "Best game ever" is a broken concept. What makes it better then other equally masterful games? Why is it better than Deus ex or Diabolo or Doom or any number of metaphorically gray haired titans of our preferred method of art and time wastery? What makes it better than ANY game, other than that you personally remember it as being great? By what criteria might one objectively grade it?

All right guys, you've convinced me. But, where do I start? I see 5 games in the Steam Store, which should I play first?

I don't really like turn based combat, and it may be a micromanagement hell, but I like strategy games, so I cannot go on without trying this one.

(I think I played it like 10 years ago, but I don't remember it very well... I remember I quit because I lost very quickly)

(Also, I think I use a lot of commas. Over use of Commas Syndrome, I call it)

Kataskopo:
All right guys, you've convinced me. But, where do I start? I see 5 games in the Steam Store, which should I play first?

I don't really like turn based combat, and it may be a micromanagement hell, but I like strategy games, so I cannot go on without trying this one.

(I think I played it like 10 years ago, but I don't remember it very well... I remember I quit because I lost very quickly)

(Also, I think I use a lot of commas. Over use of Commas Syndrome, I call it)

Start with the very first one. Enemy Unknown. It can be hard starting out and your first few attempts are probably going to fail miserably. I suggest watching a few lps to get an idea for the general flow of the game, also check out some faqs.

http://www.xcomufo.com/

http://www.youtube.com/user/Kikoskia#g/c/D91BACF0E36EE427

dunam:
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.

I tried it. It's pretty fun, and I love the hybrid-time strategy. Although it has a lot of little things that bug me, like units forgetting their orders between turns. Also, the original site doesn't seem to be working for me.

The moment I played Frozen Synapse I thought, "I would fucking love this in the context of X-Com..." and then started playing while imagining the enemies as aliens.

CD-R:

Kataskopo:
All right guys, you've convinced me. But, where do I start? I see 5 games in the Steam Store, which should I play first?

I don't really like turn based combat, and it may be a micromanagement hell, but I like strategy games, so I cannot go on without trying this one.

(I think I played it like 10 years ago, but I don't remember it very well... I remember I quit because I lost very quickly)

(Also, I think I use a lot of commas. Over use of Commas Syndrome, I call it)

Start with the very first one. Enemy Unknown. It can be hard starting out and your first few attempts are probably going to fail miserably. I suggest watching a few lps to get an idea for the general flow of the game, also check out some faqs.

http://www.xcomufo.com/

http://www.youtube.com/user/Kikoskia#g/c/D91BACF0E36EE427

On Steam thats the one called X-COM: Ufo Defense. It's a bit confusing because the original was released with two different names. I totally agree though, the first one would be the correct one to start with.

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