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X-COM: UFO Defense

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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

it's not easy being green, and from 1992

Wowee, this is something I need to magic up a fortnight for. Since 2009, the OpenXcom project has been unhurriedly continuing in its quest to make the original X-COM more contemporaneous, – a standalone version that doesn’t require DOSBox, that makes the interface a little more modern, that offers more rule-tweaking for those that want it, that finally kills some of the bugs which have dogged the original for the past two decades, and even one that scales up to mega-resolutions impressively convincingly. As of the new version 0.9, it’s basically got everything working, and you basically get an in theory improved, but faithful, X-COM to play right now. (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Next week, the missing sea monkeys of Terror From The Deep

I need to set aside a couple of hours to have a thorough read of Julian Gollop’s ongoing design plans for his Chaos remake – he’s sharing a remarkable amount on his Gollop Games blog. Today though, I take the easy route – monkey see previously unrevealed concept art for the original X-COM/UFO, monkey must post about it. Because said concept art features, as well as some very different looks for X-COM’s familiar rogues gallery (e.g. what I think might be an Ethereal design has big thighs) there are some never-before-seen additions. Including what appears to be a giant mutant rabbity thing. (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

I say ‘vs’, but the reality of this meeting between the 20th and 21st century masters of X-COM is that they repeatedly seem on the verge of embracing each other, rather than trading blows in a bitter row about time units and action cameras. Rev3Games arranged for original X-COM co-creator Julian Gollop to meet Jake Solomon, the lead dev on Firaxis’ XCOM remake, the result being this rather delightful recording of their seventeen-minute exchange. (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

In this concluding part (the first one is here), we discuss boardgame influences, commercial success, what XCOM might mean for the future of strategy, the need for realism within science-fiction, and why XCOM wound up rather buggy.> (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

'Tell us everything, mutie!'

With Firaxis’ de-hyphenated, largely very well-received remake of the legendary, incomparable, enormous-haircutted X-COM now out there saving the Earth from the worst scum of the universe for several months, now seems the time to sit down with its enthusiastic main man Jake Solomon. What went right, what went wrong and what comes next? As per recent tradition, we had a very long chat.

Covered in this first part – the base, the skills, the missing element of surprise and what they’ve learned if they ever do this again. Edited out to spare you the horror: his Punch & Judy-style impersonation of an Englishman.> (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

The Stunday Papers

Somehow, I wasn’t aware that there was an official novelisation of 1993 strategy/everything game X-COM until just last month. Given my decades-long fixation with X-COM, this was rather like discovering that there was a book about my mum that had passed me by completely.

Diane Duane’s slim text X-COM: UFO Defense – A Novel, published in 1996 by game guide firm Prima, has long been out of print (and never made it to e-print), so despite long scouring of fansites my only option was to explore the secondhand market, which in general wanted over £20 for this 250-page paperback. One joker’s even asking £500 for it. Fortunately, a lucky eBay bid got it to me for a mere £11, and so it is that I now own this fascinating oddity: a novelisation of a strategy game, written by an author with a long history of penning books based on existent sci-fi franchises. Could it truly recreate the tension and horror of X-COM? The thoughtful trauma of the minute-to-minute decisions and the long game of base-building and troop-nurturing? (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

The RPS reactions went as follows:

Alec: WoahAdam: Holy molyJim: Woah

Legendary developer Julian Gollop, best known as one half of the sibling-based team responsible for X-COM and Laser Squad, has just announced he’s making a brand new Chaos game. (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Oh dear, it turns out it’s a first-person shooter with quick-time events and checkpoints after all. Move along, nothing to see here.

No, no, rest assured Firaxis’ XCOM: Enemy Unknown is, like its 1993 predecessor X-COM: UFO Defense aka UFO: Enemy Unknown, a rich brew of turn-based strategy, base management, a sort of roleplaying and the sudden, frequent, horrible death of people you’ve developed an unhealthy fixation with, as you and your changing squad of soldiers struggle to save the Earth from alien invasion. This remake, until fairly recently, seemed like an impossibility – large publishers had lost faith that big-budget strategy games could pay for their yachts, iPads and watches heavy enough to beat a donkey to death with, and the X-COM name was sullied by spin-offs that had about as much in common with it as Hulk Hogan has with Stephen Hawking. X-COM was over, surely.

X-COM is back. I’ve waited 15 years for this, and now I can wait no more. Here’s what I think. (Note – this write-up covers singleplayer only. Thoughts on multiplayer will follow at a later date).> (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Which reminds me, I really need to find a way to attend one of the RPS socials

I’m only just curling myself out of the tiny ball of rage I’d become due to missing out on getting to play Firaxis’ X-COM reboot the other week. Instead, we sent Adam. Adam! He’s famous for saying stuff like “aliens are for losers” and “turn-based combat is a dusty relic of a bygone age” and “I wouldn’t be caught dead in a Skyranger”, then he starts body-popping and singing Flo Rida songs.

I take some small measure of comfort from the following end of the world-themed and rather splendid E3 trailer for XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which you may yourself watch below. It’s impressively dramatic and explosive, in a way that I can only presume will be somewhat at odds with the slower-paced, turn-based combat of the real thing, but more excitingly it shows a Cyberdisc transforming, some sort of new alien that might be made of crystallised light, a Chrysalid in action, hints at some sort of psychic powers for soldiers and a glimpse of a very pissed-off Muton trapped in an alien containment tank. I likey. (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

With their Guile haircuts and their baggy jumpsuits, the original members of X-COM couldn’t suppress an alien if their lives depended on it and, boy, did their lives ever depend on it. The new XCOM are all about suppression though. There’s nothing they love better than pinning some hapless sectoid behind a car and then flanking the mind-probing little bastard. Of course, all this suppression and whatnot is change and change can be more frightening than a chrysalid in a confined space. Here is a developer diary that intends to explain why modernisation is not necessarily the enemy you know.

(more…)

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