XCOM: UFO Unknown

Old old old
In 1994 people knew how to make a good computer game. Specifically MicroProse and Mythos Games and there seminal title UFO: Enemy Unknown which this year (like so many film titles) got a reboot. Firaxis and 2K have said that it’s a new game in the theme off (or homage to) the original but to anyone who has played the original it’s a fairly straight copy. The research tree is pretty much the same as are weapon upgrades and mission types. It’s also as frustratingly addictive. Just one more mission always turns into the lose of another hour of your life. Obviously the graphics are vastly superior to the original as well. However there are a few issues. Somehow in 1994 they thought of everything where as in 2012 the games been vastly simplified.

Taking the stock
In the original you had to design you base around your needs. If you hire to many soldiers, engineers and scientist you had to house them all. This meant that you had to prioritise between the three. In the remake your only priority’s are based around finances and the forced choice of location on some missions. Likewise you had to build storage space for your loot. This meant you had to prioritise what artefacts you kept and what weapons you order or build. The new game takes all of this management away and focuses squarely on making money and shooting things.
Missing in action 
The soldiers in the original game could only see the direction they are facing. This meant you had to tactically decide which position they are left in at the end of the turn. If facing the wrong way they’ll not only miss their snap shot but also get killed by the monster lurking just behind them. Although not critical it massively raised the anticipation of entering a building or performing a base attack. Now a focus on cover is pushed but soldiers can always see 360 degrees. Maybe this is an improvement, maybe not. I mean I can certainly look behind me whenever I want but it does seem to dumb down the tactical aspect.
Don’t mess with the dead buddy
The most noticeable omission for me is corpse raiding. Ok so your medics been gunned down, why can’t any other unit go and grab their kit and continue on their Florence Nightingale ways? Predominantly I’m guessing this is to do with the class system but even this seems overly restrictive. The old system let you build up your characters how you wanted them. If you want someone who is good at being a pack horse then weigh them down and force them to run around the map a lot. If you want a crack shot give them a good weapon and have them shot at every target. The new system is much more basic. I like the addition of the skills tree but I also prefer the freedom of the original
You used to be able to rock up to a crash site with as many gun slingers as you could fit into your ship. Now it seems that 6 is your limit. The entire planet is under threat but we are insistent you resolve any problem with a maximum of 6 people. It just don’t seem fair.
Second floor wait it out. The feature I used to like the most in UFO though was getting on a mission where I could get everyone onto the second floor of a building and then shoot out the stairs. Everyone would then grab a window and wait. Classic old school wait and bait. It’s all gone now though due to enemies not moving until discovered.
Don’t get me wrong. I like XCOM : Enemy Unknown. It’s addictive and fun. My main concern is that either developers and games designers have got lazy in copying an old game and missing out on a lot of what made that game complete or they think the people of today are too dumb to want a strategy game with too much strategy in it.

Leave a Reply