PC Games UFO: Enemy Unknown / X-COM: UFO Defence


AKA Ass-Bandit
So, how many of you chaps have played or tried this ace game?

I tried it back around the age of around 10 - 12, and despite the massive difficulty curve (you pretty much have to hit the floor running to get anywhere), I liked it. Couldn't get anywhere though, due to said difficulty curve.

Recently, I downloaded the game for DOS and decided to give it another go. I've yet to get into a battlescape view (PROTIP: Aggressive attacks against very small craft is not recommended), but I'm still liking everything about it.

At the moment, I have two 4-man teams, each comprised of one heavy gunner, one sniper, one regular soldier, and one scout. Heavy gunners have either an auto-cannon or a heavy cannon (mixture of AP, HE and I ammo), regular soldiers have grenades and rifles, snipers have rifles and scouts have pistols and a couple of grenades. All soldiers, no matter their role, will have stun rods for when the chance to grab a live alien arises. Scouts will just be used to (obviously) scout ahead and find targets for the snipers. They will take cover when aliens are spotted, but have the pistols in case they need it, and the grenades for those moments when they're necessary. Heavy gunners and regulars go together, and the snipers hang back and take aimed shots.

That's probably a crap tactic, but this is bearing in mind that I'm currently stuck with the 8 initial soldiers. Obviously, I've started altering the base to force aliens to come one way to attack soldiers: two bottom hangers moved next to the upper hanger, living quarters moved down next to one of the initial bottom hangers with a live containment unit built next to it. Also, a single long-range radar system is being built.

Now then, what are your thoughts of the game? Any tactics and strategys to share?


AKA Ass-Bandit
It was released in 1994 for DOS and Windows, then later ported to the Amiga and Playstation. The premise is that aliens have started attacking our planet. In light of these events, a group is created to react to attacks, take down UFOs when sighted, and research the alien threat. This group is known as the Extraterrestrial Combat Unit, or X-COM.

The game consists of two stages - the geoscape, where you do all your base maintenance, assign research and manufacturing, send out jets to take down UFOs and troop carriers to go to known alien hot-spots; and the battlescape, an isometric battle view where you take control of your troops and remove any alien threats in the area.

The game is known for being quite hard, even on beginner, yet it has quite a large following.

Several further games were created: Terror from the Deep (pretty much a clone of the original), X-COM: Apocalypse (similar to the first two, but had added features), X-COM: Interceptor (action-based space combat/strategy) and X-COM: Enforcer (third person shooter).
Come on chaps, I seriously doubt I'm the only one here that's played this game. At least, I bloody well hope not...
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No, it's a great game.. Microprose, before Hasbro.. they did a good job with what they had to work with. lol. I don't think I've ever played a game that scared me like that.

(Btw, it's more difficult on beginner, than it is on experienced and genius. Because you don't get so many resources, loot, training and more bases - so the aliens can take over very quickly when they build a few bases.)


AKA Ass-Bandit
(Btw, it's more difficult on beginner, than it is on experienced and genius. Because you don't get so many resources, loot, training and more bases - so the aliens can take over very quickly when they build a few bases.)
That may be so, but don't the harder aliens come a lot quicker? There's also the fact that my skill with the game isn't that great. I'm still learning some of the tactics, such as throw a smoke grenade out in front of the ramp before leaving the landing craft.
Not really. The aliens have a set skill- level based on rank. And if you haven't been constantly shooting and focusing on developing skills with interrupts and so on (which is lethal on beginner as well) - then you often won't have enough training to offset the sudden increase in alien skill when you try to get the first base or large ufo. The same goes for psi - on beginner you would have to capture a high- ranking sectoid or etheral, after getting a mind probe or the learning arrays(I think..). And they just won't show up until half- way in the game. Meaning that on beginner, at that point, you'll spend two years getting blasted by huge UFOs you can't shoot down (tech is too low). And you will get psied to oblivion if you try to attack them with a team. I.e., instead of encountering one high- level sectoid on every smaller ship, and being able to create beam weapons by the time the large ufos turn up in force - you get fifty sectoids with psi- powers and that one commander on your first few critical missions. I mean, it's possible to do it - but you're never ready for it if you've never played the game before (I've still not heard of anyone not getting wiped out on their first few large missions because of this). Since typically you just don't have either the shooting skill, the stun- weapons, or the blaster- launchers, or the money for the equipment like armor and so on.. or the time units and energy, to be able to do it.

So begin on experienced. You may get shot to bits a few times, but it's probably going to be more satisfying even if you lose that way. You can also see an impact in the funding every month on that level if you do a good job. On beginner you typically don't have control over what the continents on the other side of the planet do - for a long time. And you risk building a base next to an alien base when you finally can afford your second one. Or realise that the aliens are extremely well developed by the time you can detect them. And then things go too fast.

Btw - tactics: there are a lot of different strategies that work well. Smoke- grenades is one. Night- missions and flares work. Incendiary ammo to block off exits work. Bombing storeys work :D. And putting down cover- fire works (aliens lose bravery, panic at worst, etc.). Fly- suits is a neat trick. Using heavy weapons and power- suits. Light armor and long- range weapons. Or quick weapons for quick movement and agile soliders on the ufo- clearing missions.

But I don't know. I always used to use laser- rifles and stun- rods. And then add a bit with the flares and grenades, and the motion sensor. Useless if the aliens don't move, but it can give you a warning sometimes. Smoke- grenades never worked for me, since I always just got shot the instant I got out, or the aliens got out of the cloud (much better with stun- grenades, or just regular grenades - at least the stats of the alien goes down a bit). Splitting the teams into roles also work really well. But you need to check the stats of the soliders manually, and check which ones have the highest potential (and the quickest growth for this and that skill). And then add a tag to their name on the personnel screen for example (sniper/psi/gren. etc.). Also, some of the stats are permanent. So it pays off to send a few of the soliders packing sometimes.

Another thing - don't try to sneak up on aliens before you've raised your reaction- skill a bit. :)


AKA Ass-Bandit
If you don't mind, I have a question - as you're probably well aware, there are times when alien activity suddenly spikes in a location far from your base (generally at the very beginning).
So, lets say I have a base set up to defend UK, france, etc, and alien activity is high in Australasia after the first couple of hours. Is is worth sending out Interceptor patrols, or should I save the patrols for western Russia, western asia, and north and south africa?
(I'm getting hooked on the game again, you know - all your fault :) )

In the beginning it's probably harvesting missions (and any of the first ships create huge spikes on the graph), or preparations for terror- missions (there's a set procedure the aliens go through every time). So if you build a new base some ways off, you might be able to get a lock on and intercept the terror- ship when it comes. Or be able to intercept some of the light science- vessels (and they land, and are lightly defended, so you can capture it intact fairly easily. Unless you shoot down all the scouts, and force the aliens to abort their mission). Otherwise - prepare for a ground- mission. The aliens are coming in force soon.

But if you see increased activity later on, specially in an area where you haven't seen ships in the geoscape - then it's almost always a base, either a new one being scouted for (followed by a few larger ones landing on a site), or evidence of regular supply- ships. So it could pay off to send a skyranger on a few patrols.