If you are on the hunt for the ultimate tactic game, look no further X-COM Apocalypse is it. I purchased this game 3 times, on release, 2 years later after I had to install it on a new PC and the original disk was broke and then on Steam, just for having it. This ranks amongst my all-time favorites and is in my eyes the best title of the franchise.
What makes it so great? Never has tactical combat been deeper and never had a game a greater range on tactical approaches and significant shifts of how you play over the course of its campaign. There is a technology life-cycle here that will keep the game fresh, whenever the aliens show up bringing new toys, you have to adapt quickly, research if your survive to stay on technological eye-level with your foes until the next cycle. This is the basic principle of all X-Com games, but here are much more of these technology cycles and their impact is much greater.
Speaking about impact, the environments are completely destructible and you can literally bring down whole buildings in the tactical missions, as well as in the strategic city view instead of hunting the aliens one by one. But you might piss of the owners that are funding your operation. If they are pissed of already, then why not raid their building for resources, even if there are no aliens involved, yes you can even do that. The feature depth out of combat is massive, you only have a city as playing field, but every building has an owner and every misguided missile during an interception attempt has a political impact. You can buy buildings, station vehicles and agents all over the place, raid and attack organizations. Research and Development as well as budget management are complex, but easily learnable and even when you are in tight spot, the game has desperate measures available to turn things around.
Sure, the graphics where not that god, even at release, the optional real-time mode is not much more than a gimmick (quite useful when you are confidently overpowered to accelerate things) but it is not hard to appreciate the “inner-beauty” of the gameplay once you get into it. All the other franchise trademarks like customizable soldiers, inventory management and UFO base building are at their feature-filled best.
I played most tactic games since the good old DOS days, from Ufo Defense over Jagged Alliance, Fallout over titles like Silent Storm up to last year’s great XCOM – Enemy Unknown. But none ever could compete to X-COM Apocalypse, if you have the slightest interest in the genre, you absolutely owe it yourself to play this! If Firaxis is working on a sequel to their re-imagination, I wish they would go to Apocalypse for inspiration. It might be too complex for today’s streamlined standards, but it gets so much depth out of this complexity, that keeps it interesting even after all these years.
- true tactical depth
- strategically complex
- all franchise tropes in effect
- fierce technology lifecycles
- complexity requires ramp-up time
- boring graphics