I never played the original X-Com back in 1993/1994 when it came out. I am told, however, that it is One Of The Greatest Games Of All Time.
“Here’s what happens,” Fish told me. “Aliens invade but you don’t know anything about them. They’ve got alien tech, alien biology, and so on. You don’t understand any of it. You shoot a few, though, kill a few, then you can start doing autopsies and learn about their biology. You capture a gun and you can try to reverse engineer it. It’s not just about repelling an alien invasion… it’s about *LEARNING HOW TO*.”
Whoa, I thought. I regretted not playing the original. “What about the sequels?” “Eh,” he shrugged.
Which brings me to XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Holy cow, this game is awesome. Here’s what happens, aliens invade but we don’t know anything about them. They’ve got alien tech, alien biology, and so on. We don’t understand any of it. We shoot a few, though, kill a few, then we can start doing autopsies and learn about their biology. We capture a gun and we try to reverse engineer it. It’s not just about repelling an alien invasion… it’s about *LEARNING HOW TO*.
You start with a 4-man team of soldiers who each take their turns (it’s not real time!) moving across the board… from cover to cover, if you want to survive, and it reminds me of Descent, kinda, insofar as you can run and go double distance, shoot once and move once, or shoot a special weapon (rocket launcher, sniper rifle). As the game progresses, you collect more samples and tech, which allow you to develop better weapons, which allow you to collect more samples and tech, and so on. There’s geopolitical intrigue insofar as, sometimes, you have exclusive choices (do you stop the abduction in China or the one in Canada? China’s reward is cold, hard cash but Canada’s reward is a handful of scientists… which do you need more? Oh, and you should know that the country you *DON’T* help will have its panic level rise somewhat).
You’ve got combat, you’ve got resource management, you’ve got aliens… and, most importantly, it seems they captured what made the original game special instead of trying to update the game for consoles (the way OH SO MANY games try and fail to do… usually by making them first-person shooters) and, as such, it’s a game that I can’t wait to get back to playing. Now, I haven’t beaten it so it might do something dumb like have the aliens all be rogue programs from the matrix following Mass Effect 4’s revelation that you actually chose synthesis but that created a race of spider robots or something but, barring something like that happening, I’d say that anybody who both loves video games and loved the movie Independence Day should definitely check this game out.