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back to article X-COM UFO: Enemy Unknown

1994 could never be called a dull year but after packing away my ailing Mega Drive and putting on my finest stripy jumper for Kurt Cobain’s funeral, I needed to be diverted by a great game. Quite fittingly UFO: Enemy Unknown aka X-COM came along just as OJ’s white Bronco was trying for orbit. X-COM UFO: Enemy Unknown UFO: Enemy …

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If only games were this difficult these days. I can't actually remember completing this game, but I do remember how bloody hard it was. Terror From The Deep was also good too, but didn't really add much.

And don't know why it wasn't mentioned, but you can relive the X-Com games through Steam for only £2.99 a pop, or £8.99 for the pack.

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if only

That is why I have given up on the newer generation of games entirely and just buy old games and play them in DosBox. Hours of fun, cheaper and better game play.

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Difficult

It became fairly easy after I played it a million times, some of those times being quite recently. I loved it anyway. The secret was to sell almost everything that you recovered from the ground missions, plus a lot of your starting stocks as well. Go straight for heavy plasma, hire 50 soldiers and immediately sack all but the best shooters, then you're ready to kick some alien arse.

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Is it usable outside of Windows?

The Steam system requirements list Windows 2000/XP/Vista but also "Sound Cards Supported: AdLib compatible cards, SoundBlaster compatible cards and the Roland LAPC-1". So does it come in a form where I could transfer it to DosBox on another platform?

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Facepalm

Thanks for that

Didn't get to be till 2 last night...

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Title

Why, yes it does : http://ufo2000.sourceforge.net/

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Alien

Two words

Legen...dary!

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Happy

I loved this series

This XCOM games were brilliant, from a time when gameplay mattered more than graphics.

My favourite tactic late on in the game was to send out hover tanks to recce the alien crash sites. Then using my psionic troopers to make the aliens drop their weapons and then walk them back to my ship where I would line them up and execute them.

Jagged Alliance and Fallout Tactics were also fantastic.

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Jad
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Psionics

My favourite use of psionics was to scout for other aliens (out of sight) and control them as well so that my Men/Women never had to go anywhere and I could get the aliens to bitch-slap themselves :)

I loved the guideable rocket hovertanks though ... useful with big ships and men with jet-packs.

send the jetpacks to the roof of the big ship, get one man to open the door at the bottom and walk away, a man into the lift shaft to open the door at the top, then leave the ship then rocket grenade from a safe distance into the lift shaft, up to the top, along the open corridor and into the roof/far wall near to my hovering men ... men fly in through the new doorway and waste/capture anyone in that room ...

so many wasted days of my life :)

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Stop

Why not just create your own door?

A pair of troopers carrying blaster bombs - one guided blaster bomb in the side of the alien battleship, and one in the top, then you've got two breaches to launch your assault.

I played this through only a few months ago. Epic, epic game. Apart from Pharaoh and Settlers, I don't think any other game ate up more time. I'm still playing Pharaoh, in fact.

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Make a skylight

Guided blaster bomb to make a hole in the roof of the bigger UFOs, followed by a few more of the same in through the hole, then troops in hover armor go in and clean up.

Fantastic stuff. I need to restart the game of this I'd been playing in DOSbox a year or two ago.

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Black Helicopters

<3

I have been known to fire up a dosbox for a blast every now and again..This game is/was great! BUT Why is it still not available on Android pads/mobiles?

What no reg rating? surely this game gets an reg rating of 80-85%.... (personally I d give it a 90%)

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Happy

Great Game,

Remember losing sleep over playing the first one, the second not so much as it really was just a reskin but enjoyable enough.

The 'remake' looks a bit crap though.

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Angel

A true classic

I lost so many hours hunting around crash sites looking for the last alien, they were always very good at hiding.

Other highlights were the flying missle tank (urban crash site missions are much easier when you can fly up the outside of buildings) and the hardcore Mars Attacks type alien in the purple cloak who used mind control to wipe out your entire squad in one turn *grrr*.

The underwater sequel never really clicked for me, but the German remake that was around a couple of years ago was a good attempt, shame about the dodgy camera angles.

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Not enough time units!

Antique Code Show? How have I managed to miss such a good feature until now?

There are, of course, many X-COM remakes that aren't shooters. They're all indie though. The name around the playground for the most promising such remake is "Xenonauts".

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Anonymous Coward

heh

I loved this one, but I also really liked apocalypse. Terror from the deep had potential but the crab men were too hard to kill. From the third on it was downhill all the way.

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Alien

Apocalypse

was probably my favourite. Have completed it several times..... earlier this year being the latest. They don't make em like they used to.

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Damn you

DOT and now this. Are you trying to convince me to waste all of my spare time.

Someone mentioned this game was tough. I did finish it eventually but Terror from the Deep was much harder.

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Memories

I remember playing this and after completing it cheating my way to high heaven with my Action Replay mk3 on the Amiga.

Sabre Team was also a good turn based strategy game.

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Happy

Yay X-COM!

Good times playing X-COM.

Happy times, like reducing an entire city block to smouldering ruins to root out one of those horrible superfast parasite buggers.

And sad times… like having my entire team fire rockets and machine guns into a barn for 6 turns to kill one Sectoid, and failing. I then screamed abuse at my team for failing to hit the broadside of a barn… the fact of the matter is they could hit the barn, evidenced by the fact it had a great many holes in its walls… as well as that it was on fire. They just couldn’t hit the part the nasty little alien was hiding behind.

Insult was added to property damage when the little sod strode out into the open took a long shot at my best agent who was hiding behind a large stone wall and clocked him dead, then proceeded to survive everything I threw at him for another turn before falling unconscious from smoke inhalation.

*sniff* they don’t make games like that anymore.

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I don't know which is the sadder...

My fondly remembering SHADO or X-COM...

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says:

An absolute classic. The only issue I found, rectified with Terror From The Deep, was the fairly obvious research path.

When I was taking the fight back to Mars I was distressed to find one of the map tile files on the floppy disk was corrupted and made further progress impossible as I couldn't navigate around the flashing blobbyness where they appeared on the map. I had to hack about in a clean tile and make my own replacement. This replacement tile may have been a little more XCOM friendly than the original, especially as I made it a simple straight corridor too narrow for the aliens' hovers to negotiate.

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Best game ever.

Loved this game. Loved the eeriness feeling.

If you want this game, good to get it on Good Old Games (gog) or Steam.

They sort out the DosBox issues, bugs, performance etc.

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Turning point

XCOM was the first game I can remember seeing adverts for on bus shelters, etc. Before it, computer games adverts were pretty much confined to games shop windows and hobbyist magazines.

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Superb

One of my all time favourites, although very difficult to finish at the higher difficulty settings. TftD was also fun but became a bit of a slog after a while because the bases were just so big. A friend of mine, Scott Jones, produced a series of patches mainly aimed at making it even more difficult but I do remember one of them allowed you to play the aliens.

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A fine example

of a great game and series, completely ruined by the publishers being morons.

A series of mediocre sequels, shoehorned into more mainstream formats, died a death and so the publishers buried it. They wouldn't even let the creator/s have the rights to it back.

I keep hoping that it gets properly ressurrected in the form of Rebelstar or Lasersquad, but i have a feeling Hasbro own some of those rights as well.

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Best. Game. Ever.

Honestly, nothing else has come close to this for me - remember firing the demo up on my dads work laptop as a kid, and getting giddy as hell! The only thing that bugged me was that they dropped the laser effect (it sort of blew out a load of pixels on a hit) from the full game, shoulda stayed.

Agree - android version would be immense, though possibly end up with me getting the sack for never working...

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One of the greats

I loved and hated this game. It was incredibly hard to get into, but the satisfaction in finishing it...

XCom Apocalypse was an improvement, and the fun I had in having my agents take control of an alien, teleport in, steal his weapons, give him a primed grenade and teleport back out. Oh joy oh bliss.

Other than the Jagged Alliance games, I've seen nothing else that comes even close.

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Surely..

this is crying out for an iPad release??? It'd be epic. Don't change a thing except perhaps update the graphics a bit and make it a "little" easier?? I remember the tension of sending my team into a site, creeping around hunting down those damn aliens but as with others remember I didn't get close to finishing it as it was to flippin hard!!

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Alien

Used to love this game...

There was a very good port to WinMo6 as well - kept me occupied on train journeys for quite a while, and was surprisingly touch-screen friendly.

Anyone know if there's an Android port, or anything similar?

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Pint

Still on my shelf

Have both Enemy Unknown and Terror from the Deep (both PS1), and both played regularly even now; completed EU but could never complete TFTD -still trying and although the graphics look dated, still more than acceptable on my HDTV thro the PS3. Who'd have thunk: gameplay beating shiny graphix

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TFTD

I was just too young for enemy unknown, but I remember seeing the review and getting the demo of TFTD in PC Format (I still have that issue of the mag in the loft somewhere) and salivating over it for months before I could afford to buy the game. I must have played the demo hundreds of times.

I never completed the damn thing until about 2 years ago though, got it loaded up in DosBox and had a great time. It's pretty difficult, although I learned recently that there are a few bugs in the research tree which can catch you out and make it impossible to finish the game, thus adding to the frustration! They may have been patched now, officially or unofficially.

Definitely still one of my all-time favourites though, and when I've finished Settlers 3 I might dig it out again...

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Excellent game...

Anyone else make the mistake of renaming your soldiers, becoming quite attached to them and getting very upset if they died. I seem to remember if you killed the PC quickly enough after your best guy was shot, it wouldn't save and you could restart the mission!

I'm off to book a couple of days leave and fire up Steam! :-)

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Alien

Lobster men - terror from the deep

Two words......

Thermal Lance.

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Alien

gameplay trumps graphics

Yes a total classic, absorbing to say the least. The FPS remake actually loses the main atrraction of XCOM which is the tactics of deploying troops.

You can capture a taste of the old days with UFO:AI http://ufoai.ninex.info

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X-com's 8-bit precursors...

Fans of the X-com series might want to check out the turn based strategy games written for the 8-bit machines by the same team (Julian and Nick Gollop):

Rebelstar (1986):

http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseekid.cgi?id=0004058

Rebelstar 2 (1988):

http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseekid.cgi?id=0004061

Laser Squad (1988):

http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseekid.cgi?id=0002813

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Re:X-com's 8-bit precursors..

<--- to Laser Squad, had that on the (shhh don't mention it loudly) Atari ST, and the expansion you could get for it. My ST was then very popular with my mates for some reason.........

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Headmaster

You missed one

Well, two actually - Chaos and its sequel, Lords of Chaos. LoC was if anything even better than Laser Squad: you were able to choose the units for your side on the fly and also use a variety of powerful direct attacks and board changing effects, but the more units you had, the less power you had left to use combat spells.

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Happy

Re: You missed one

Actually, I left Chaos and Lords of Chaos out because they weren't 'space-based'. ;)

The PC 'sequel' to those was 'Magic and Mayhem': http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_and_Mayhem

All bloody good games.

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Re: Re: You missed one

You missed out rebelstar raiders, that was space based :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Re: You missed one

Er... I left it out 'cos it was two-player only. ;)

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Rebelstar on Amstrad

What a game. Didn't know until today that it is part of a class of games called "turn based strategy", which also describes what made it so fascinating.

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Black Helicopters

XCom Util

Don't forget XCOM Util (http://sites.google.com/site/stjones/xcomutil), which allows you to tweak various parts of the game to make it easier or harder*.

*(if you're a loony)

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Near perfect.

Bought it again on Steam for pennies the other month, thought I'd breeze through it having finished it when it first came out; was quickly and brutally reminded how sodding difficult it is if you are too gung-ho, particularly in the early stages.

Slap some spiffy new graphics on the top of it and re-release it - would be better than YAFPS.

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Linux

Computer turn based is an Oxymoron

Turn Based anything is just way too geeky for me. You have a bloody computer, this is not a table top. Playing anything turn based on a computer is an oxymoron.

Weeners who grew up playing table top D&D will fall for almost anything turn based.

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Ox Moron!

Computer turn based is not an oxymoron. An oxymoron would be things like a non-computing computer, or a deadly game.

The phrase you're looking for is "I'm a twit who can't stand anything that doesn't fit my very narrowly defined idea of entertainment."

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Remakes and tributes

There's an open source game called UFO: Alien Invasion ( http://ufoai.sf.net ) which tries to follow in x-com's footsteps, definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of the original. Play it or contribute to it, or do both.

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Brilliant game

Fondly remember playing this for many hours, and enjoying playing it again when I got it off steam. The first was a brilliant game, if very difficult. Terror from the Deep was actually fiendishly difficult, some of those aliens (the crab people and the things that implanted eggs in your guys no matter what armour they were wearing) were ridiculously overpowered. The sense of achievement from beating a mission was immense.

Apocalypse is very enjoyable too - I'm playing that again, and UFO:Afterlight (on Mars) is actually a really good game as well. Aftermath is shoddy and we don't mention any of the other UFO titles, they didn't happen.

I'd love to see this for Android.

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Agree: Best. Game. Ever.

Loved this game, lost loads of sleep, even started dreaming it was really happening! (which is not quite as sad as dreaming about rescuing tiny blue Lemmings with green hair)

Never quite got into intercepter and only recently tried giving apocalypse a proper go (not got far yet, just not *quite* the same feeling, maybe I prefer the turn based aspect rather than the real time bit)

Did get very excited for the Xcom Alliance trailer only to get heartbroken when it never made it to release.

Would love even just a variation of the original game with modern graphics (last time I checked out the fan versions they did at the time seem very much only half finished but that was a long time ago now... any get nearly complete? I will look at the links posted above when home)

Yes please to iOS and Andriod versions (iOS first though please! ;-) )

Chuckle at remebering some of the tackics mentiond above and grimiced at remembering situations where best squad members or whole squads wiped out by one difficult alien ( and yes I did often redo a mission from the previous save point when I had learnt the lesson to create save points just before mission start (in case really horrid layout) and just after! (to avoid losing good squad members)

Could be quite slow to build up your defenses if you don't use the Cheat/patcher to increase starting funds..

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awesome game

sadly the latest 'sequel' looks utterly terrible. lets take an excellent tactical turn based squad shooter, with research and development, and rpg bits, and remake it into what looks like a generic FPS (and it doesnt look like its very good even at that). yay.

TFTD was fun, but very much like EU - the research paths were near identical, iirc.

Apoc was pretty good, and i liked how they progressed the storyline, and kept similar gameplay - whilst updating it for a more modern audience.

interceptor... i quite liked interceptor. theres not many flight sims i like, but the combination of a fun storyline, and the R&D stuff, made it pretty much unique as far as i'm aware.

enforcer... i played once, and it was awful.

now, as for the 'spiritual successors'....

ufo: afterlight/aftermath/aftershock.... not bad games tbh, but didnt have the charm of the originals. also fairly buggy and unresponsive iirc.

a few people have mentioned ones above, which i wont comment on as i've not played them.

i have been playing UFO:Extraterrestrials lately (and a sequel is out soonish), which captures a lot of the the essence of the originals, imo. the feeling of being utterly outclassed is certainly there, along with the research and your squad improving (if they last long enough!). controls are a bit iffy, and theres a few bugs, but nothing gamebreaking.

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