Thursday, October 13, 2011, revised X-Com on the horizon?

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balance inventories and storage space, staff and space/$, don't overinvest in inventories of tech that will be outdated before too long, etc.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!


  1. I had never heard of this game til about a year ago, I stumbled onto some kind of Xbox Live preview. My brother in law seen it and flipped his wig, dug through some old stuff in the garage and produced the game. After he started playing it again I didn't see him for like a month. All I'm saying is be careful, make sure to stock up on Mountain Dew and Slim Jims before you initiate your war against the xenos.

  2. What great news!

    This is one of my all time favorites. You hit it on the head with FEAR. When your own man pops around a dark corner and takes you out it scared the heck out of me, or when you are slowly going through a corn field at night and those nasty buggers jump out at you.

    I haven't played it since my 486 days, but I bet it would still hold up today. It had such a great story line, and the fact you can ambush the aliens while they are dissecting a cow was just great.

    I played this game so many times and it ranks up there with Civilization as a game you can always go back to. X-com was also a trend setter. It was one of the first games where you had that 3rd person view, and X-com 3 was one of the first real time based strategy games out there.

  3. AHHHHHH!!!! CHRYSALIDS!!!!! RUN!!!!

    I am excited and pensive about this news. People have tried to recreate the X-COM experience ("Incubation" comes to mind) with limited success. A re-imaging sounds wonderful, but I am reminded of when I tried to go back and try out Asheron's Call after playing WoW for a couple years. All my wonderful memories of exploring Dereth did not prevent the sudden realization that "you can't go home again."

    Still... X-COM! Where's my wallet?!

  4. @Chris - I've got a fridge and a phone for getting deliveries, I should be fine.

    @Powerposey - I can't afford the time, but I'm thinking of loading it up again now...

    @Mike Howell - For all the replay value, the first time through was certainly the best, as it was all new, and you discovered what aliens did what, what weapons were best against who, etc. I'm hoping that a rebooted version will allow me that same sense of discovery again.


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