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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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Android Version: xenowar

There is a simple android version called xenowar, it is actually pretty good. It is open source so you can download it for free from the dev website, or better yet, buy it from the marketplace and give the lone developer a little boost.

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Hmmm

I'm going to reserve judgement on the new game until closer to the time - BUT, I suspect it would have been far better received than it has been thus far if it wasn't called XCOM.

From what I've read about it (which ain't much yet);

* set in 60's America with that whole "Reds under the bed" kind of thing going on liberally applied to create atmosphere.

* created by the Bioshock 2 team.

* alien invasion (where they can disguise as human) and you can pilfer their tech to research and build upon - it's kinda like XCOM but instead of the turn-based strategy game at landing/terror sites it goes into FPS mode ... at least that's the kind of hint I'm getting about it.

It MIGHT be good but it is going to have to be bloody amazing NOT to get slated because they chose to call it XCOM.

I loved the original - actually preferred "Terror From The Deep" just for the Lobstermen - and bought the whole pack from Steam, I did own the first two originally, ran them on a DX2/66 :) Actually, I owned a game called Laser Squad on the Amiga as well, on which the XCOM games are based (IIRC).

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A DX2-66? You were lucky...

I can't remember what the spec was of the PC I originally saw XCOM running on, but when I finally got hold of it, I played through both EU and TFTD on a 486 DX-33 with 8mb of ram. Which handled things surprisingly well - and in some ways gave me an advantage, as you could figure out how many aliens were left by timing how long the computer's turn took.

(I eventually had to give up on playing TFTD on that machine: it used the same game engine, but with Moore's law having marched on a bit, the developers (the game engine from EU was handed over to an in-house team while the Gollops worked on a more ambitious true sequel) made the levels much bigger and increased the number of aliens, thus increasing the AI-turn time to tea-brewing levels. I returned to it once I'd bought a DX2-50 a few months later. Them were t'days...)

Interestingly, X-com was also available on the Amiga, the CD32 and the Playstation - I've seen the Amiga one running and own both EU and TFTD on the Playstation :)

And there's some nice background history on the series here:

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2010-11-28-the-story-of-x-com-interview

As regards the new game: it'll be interesting to see the new game, but it ain't X-com. Admittedly, if you squint a little at X-com Apocalypse, you can make something of a case for the 1950's setting being "canon", but I'd peg the main influences of XCOM as Dark Skies (alien invasion series, set in the 1960s), X-Files and Men in Black...

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Fave Turn based game

Such a good game - I remember watching horrified as my fully kitted out marines would get jumped and wiped out so quickly on this;then the last one alive would shoot a doorframe and get slaughtered

Going to have to buy this again I think

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x-com's 8 bit successors

Believe it or not, UFO Enemy Unknown almost made it to the Spectrum.

During the 1990s when the Iron Curtain had fallen and people were building their own Speccy clones, I ran a PD software library and was once sent the preliminary code and part working bits of a very good Spectrum version.

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Laser Squad on steroids

I don't see any good reason why it couldn't have been implemented in 8 bits, though a tape-based version would have been a PITA to work with.

The turn-based gameplay *was* descended from such Speccy greats as Laser Squad and the Rebelstar series, after all, Julian Gollop had a fine history of these turn-based games long before UFO/X-COM.

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this game is EPIC

I remember how addictive this game was, and its turn based nature meant each battle took ages to finish. Being able to research alien technologies and turn them into weapons for your troops gave the game long term appeal. Having a squad of troops that got increased experience and rank as they survived battles was also excellent. I used to love putting down smoke grenades for cover, then having my troops pop out and kill things. I think it would be great if someone did a modern realtime version of this game.

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Joke

"the more geeks you have working on something, the quicker it gets done."

Really?! You've never worked in project management, have you? ;)

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Anonymous Coward

I have this running on the ipad

I have xcom running on my ipad. In fact it works perfectly, once you get used to not having a mouse. I did this first by jailbreaking my ipad and downloading and install "dospad" which is a full

dosbox implementation for the ipad. Then, after I updated my ipad, without a jailbreak, I was lucky

enough to see dospad get approved by Apple for about half a day (before it was removed) and installed it. It also runs xcom, but not quite as well, that the graphics do not refresh as quickly,

but it still works. The reason is the jb version allows "cpu=dynamic" ins dospad.cfg, but the "apple"

version does not.

In any case, the sound works, too. Just configure a blaster in dospad.cfg but don't fill in any interrupts for it. It will just work.

Also, you need to download a version of xcom that has been patched, so look for 1.44 I think.

This one will work just fine. I think the steam one can too, just load it into dospad as as well.

TFTDvwill work too. It is the same, but I never played it.

I love playing is on the ipad, but I stopped for some time as I found it was too stressful and

addictive having such a nightmare combination of technology in my hands.

Finally there is also isochron, which will be for the ipad and is a complete rewrite.

For all the above, just google "dospad xcom" "isochron ipad" etc.... exercise left to the reader

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Happy

Playing multiplayer Chaos online

There used to be more rewrites around, but the only one I know of that is currently active is this one:

http://www.duelboard.com/old/

It's futuristic instead of wizards, but it's basically the same game.

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Pint

Happy Memories!

I have many happy memories of Friday night UFO sessions, 4 of us grouped around an Amiga 1200HD, cheap alcoholic beverages (mmm, Buckfast...) at the ready, the only light in the room coming from the fuzzy portable TV and blazing fire in the hearth.

We'd play multiplayer by each taking a couple of troops, and spend all night playing until we couldn't stay awake, or the sun came up. When one of our longest serving soldiers was killed in action, we were utterly devastated, and swore to destroy the enemy, to avenge his loss.

Oh, we did. We flew to Mars and kicked alien butt. I remember being a little disappointed by how easy that last battle was, but it was probably just because by then we were a well-organized, well-equipped team of veterans, our strategies finely honed and practiced to perfection. How different from those dark, early days when Sectoids invaded our base and the sparsely equipped crew barely held them off at great cost.

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3DS - Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars

Got a 3DS? Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars is a distant relative of XCOM too, created by the same designer.

It's no XCOM really (the strategy / R&D is effectively removed), but the turn-based shooting is good fun & the 3DS graphics quite nice.

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Gimp

Never finnished the fucker

Had this on the first playstation, fucking great game, up there with Elite, Lords of Midnight, Populus, Civ and SE3

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Anonymous Coward

Ah, the days when games were games...

...and took some intelligence to play.

Would love this on the iPad! Anything out there similar and available under iOS...?

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Simiar but ..

it's not ready yet. It's called Isochron.

You should email MicroProse or Mythos and pester them into making a mobile version

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One of the Greatest...

One of the Greatest games of all time. UFO: Enemy Unknown had me frustrated in so many ways, but damnit I loved it - especially the UFO battle music. It was nothing much as general music, but back then it had me all het up.

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One of the best games ever

Laser Squad Nemesis is the spiritual sequel (made by the same guy) unfortunately his company went bust.

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Brings back memories

I spent many an hour playing X-COM in high school and college. I never did beat the blasted thing, but I sure did have a lot of fun trying.

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Pocket UFO for Windows Mobile

For those who feel a little nostalgic, there is Pocket UFO for your Windows Mobile.

http://www.xcomufo.com/x1dl.html

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Awesome!!

I remember having this on Amiga 1200. It took ages to load levels, was pitifully slow between turns and the graphics were nothing great even for the time. And it was awesome! Entirely absorbing and never dull. Every new advance in tech and every new alien species encountered required a different strategic approach, keeping the game fresh all the way through (a bit like the original 'syndicate').

I was suckered to buying a later PC version, Aftermath... it was slicker, faster and more atmospheric, but the gameplay never quite reached the peaks of 'enemy unknown'

Great memories :)

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Happy

Never played this....

....but loved Syndicate from Bullfrog. Lost the disks years ago.

I do however, still play the classic Master of Orion 2. I love that game dearly.

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Alien

Not the best game ever

Damn close though! I played TFTD first before this one but both were tons of fun.

Lobster-men were tough :/

And who didnt hate being mc'd?!!?

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Alien

Nostalgia

I had the honour of working with Julian and Nick many years ago in my first games developer job. A little-known fact that Julian told me about X-COM was that there was a bug that meant the difficulty level wasn't saved. So if you started it on the hardest level and came back to it later, the difficulty would be set back to easy.

I suspect this was patched eventually, but it did explain how I managed to do so well on it!

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Not officially patched...

...only in unofficial updates. The bug did have a knock-on effect as it wasn't discovered until after TFTD was released. When developing TFTD, one of the common change requests was "X-COM is too easy," (because of the bug, but they didn't know that) so they made TFTD's LOWEST difficulty setting the equivalent of what was X-COM's HIGHEST difficulty and went UP from there.

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Happy

Good stuff!

I can't imagine any other game that could have inspired such an outpouring of nostalgic geek joy in the comments.

I too loved this game, even my five floppy disk amiga version.

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Thanks for the memories

Ah the memories. Having my entire squad gathered around a battleship door ready to invade. A mutoid opens the door and is immediately executed, whereupon the alien captain fires a blaster bomb through the open door.

Or the time the stupid pilot landed with an alien exactly astern. One basic grenade was all it took to wipe out the entire team.

I finished it, and yes the final battle was easy, but only because I made the aliens do all the hard work through mind control.

Never did get into TFTD -- too hard, and Apocalypse might have held me longer if I'd switched to turn-based combat, which was available.

I see DOSBOX is available on Android. I've got to give it a go.

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Happy

Oh the memories

I seem to remember getting to the stage where you'd send half dozen psi merchants (why risk more?) and a heap of disposable rookies... who'se sole purpose was to go out and 'see' enemies for the psi team to play with.

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Sectoid leader has gone berserk

Oh god, the nostalgia has kicked in very hard for this game. I might see if I can find an abandonware version that iisn't infested with keyloggers and trojans.

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Happy

Psi was great, but caused a lock on at least one occasion

If you took control of an alien, you couldn't access their inventory. But, you could open the inventory of one of your men, then use the "next trooper" button to move to the alien.

iirc they had a single clip of ammo, but if you removed it another one appeared. This did cause a problem on at least one occasion, as I clicked on the ammo but didn't actually have enough APs to move it to another location. A new one had appeared and I couldn't put it back, so had to reboot the computer.

Never figured out if you could use it to get infinite ammo - but I did always make a point of having any aliens I controlled drop their weapons...

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One of the best

It would be a toss-up as to which is my favorite, X-COM or Command & Conquer, but both were the cause for many sleepless geeked out nights of gaming.

Think I might have to install X-com of Steam again when I get home...

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