X-Com is quite simply one of the greatest PC games of all time. If you disagree, go back to your Zeldas or whatever and stop reading here. For the rest of you, the enlightened, you will be interested to know that a successor to the original game with the same style (which is what made it so awesome) has been in the works.
Gad, I hope it doesn't come out until after my life slows down, or at least I can forget about it until then. But come next summer I hope to be playing the bejeebies out of Xenonauts!
What made X-Com, and to a lesser degree it's immediate successor (a version where you fought aliens underwater) so friggin' awesome?
1. Multi-level play. X-Com wasn't just one game, it was many rolled into one storyline. You had the political game, keeping nations happy. There was the base-building game. The money management game. The research game. The alien detection and interception game. And the lovely squad combat game. And they all intersected and affected each other, making for a rich experience.
2. Career prep. X-Com was from the era of games that were about data. You had tables that tracked funding, alien activity and so on that you could overlay, compare, track by country or region, etc. and follow over time. It taught data mining. Lots of alien activity a few months ago in Nigeria? Let's start looking for a base there. Activity over there you hadn't noticed? Time for a new radar station. What's the most efficient thing to be producing? (After a while, your production of weapons - I generally sold laser pistols - was so lucrative that you could largely ignore your actual government funding.) Let's track the performance of our recruits, test them for aptitudes and send them in for better training. Manage inventories to give your teams enough equipment for their missions, balance inventories and storage space, staff and space/$, don't overinvest in inventories of tech that will be outdated before too long, etc. After winning X-Com, you felt like you could run a large company. Corporate and government managers should be required to win at X-Com before being hired.
3. Kaboom. That awesome ground game. Turn-based squad combat with a number of options and a pretty fully destructible environment. Glorious. Alien behind that hedge? Toss a grenade, or have one guy dump enough fire into the hedge to expose the alien to further shots. Aliens near the mini-mart? Send a rocket into the gas pumps. Sectoids running around in the cornfields in the dark? Pop some incendiaries that way. For those of you that have played Chaos Gate, X-Com is the precursor to the combat system used there.
4. FEAR. This is something that some old games did well, that I haven't often found in later ones. When your guys started getting mind controlled and panicking, you might also. When you first run into a Chrysalid in a terror mission and realize that all those civilians are turning into MORE aliens, who when you shoot them turn into WORSE aliens, you experience some fear.
If you haven't played X-Com before, buy or borrow it and do so. It will be well worth it, and hopefully your appetite will be whetted for Xenonauts too!