Review by kurtrusselshair
"The best strategy game for any home console"
First I must say my love with this game came years ago when I originally purchased it for my PlayStation 1 nearly 13 years ago. It was one of my all time favorites, recently I decided to pull it out of the box pop it in and go back to battle for the sake of the earth, in my heart the game is a ten all around, but to be fair in this age that I review this collectors gem its antiquated graphics are barely passable and were old 13 years ago, that aside to get the full review of what really makes this game great read on.
Graphics- 4 (7 in 1995), while having huge maps with multiple buildings, all of which are entirely destroyable to the last wall, they are nothing more than simple sprites with copy and pasted textures. While there is a real game specific charm to the art work, most on screen creatures are only defined enough so you get the idea of what the alien should look like to have it reinforce in the noncombat ufopaedia which provides the "detailed" drawings of the critters. All of you solders look fairly the same, however the body armor that can be added later in the game looks great, for this game, but still very simple. The fire that occurs when using various explosive weapons is ok for the era, and its the weird little charm of using a wall of incendiary missiles/fire to keep your alien foes at bay that gives this game the charm I describe, tacky yet fun, bad yet appropriate and graphics are the only part of this game that isn't at the level they need to be to make this game perhaps still the best turn based strategy game out there. The graphic low points are sprite size, image detail,map variety detail, base detail and overall menu related images as well. The 2 high points come from the fun animations that you see when these little sprites are moving, and the images used in the research and ufopaedia at least help you appreciate what they were trying to do visually in the early/mid nineties.
Sound-9 (10 in 1995) The sound is fitting here, clear, and has a very classic 50's sci-fi feel to it. While music is just for the intro and select mission returns and departures, there is a simple background track while you are doing your base work, and most importantly the sound effects in the battle scape are very crisp, appropriate, and to me funny when you hear those little aliens scream when you blow them up with high explosives. the lasers sound like lasers, plasma weapons like plasma, and every weapon, bomb, missile, door opening and death scream is fairly unique and crisp. the best part being that with little in game music and fun top notch sound effects this is a fun game to put on some of your own jams and spend the night in the dark just getting down with the old school haha. Low points for overall lack of soundtrack, high points for it doesnt need one the silence is scary as the aliens move in cover of dark and the sound effects were ahead of their time for strategy games.
Controls-10 (10 in 95) 2 options here, both work well for the game and accurately as any console strategy game ever has gives you a close enough feel to having a mouse and a keyboard it becomes that intuitive. I myself like controller option 1 for the geoscape and pre-battle menus, then I can easily switch in battle to option 2 which is perfectly mouse like even with the ps controller. Low points for still being a console with no keyboard attachment, high points because the controller actually can work as well as the mouse and that's all you need with turn based strategy.
Gameplay-10 (in 95 I turned it to 11, nothing was this fun or deep) This is what makes this game, tough, hard nose strategic combat and a fully developed research concept that progresses the game to the end rather than a series of pre-ordained features or a tight story. This is why I was missing school, sleep, and sex in high school haha, the missions here in XCOM are better than all 3, and as you go further into the game and capture live aliens and do the research on them you uncover more of what you need to do, go on more missions, larger missions, until you are satisfied. It starts with shooting down a lone ufo, that's what hooks you for 13 years. After the ufo is shot down you send your team of soldiers who are fairly weak at this point to investigate where the battlescape starts and you move your soldiers like playing free form open field chess against the alien chess pieces in multiple environments hidden by fog of war with each other knowing a shot of hot plasma or some other truly hideous way to die is waiting right through the door of the building your going to investigate. It is that good folks, after downing and investigating a few crashes the ufo's start getting bigger, with jars of human and animal parts they experiment with in them, crazy operating rooms, and crazier aliens lol but all this gives you a claustrophobic chilling experience as you know they are looking for you as you are for them in these places. At certain points they invade large cities of the world and you have to go and save innocent people from these sick bug eyed opponents or a variety of aliens all with special powers and weaknesses. After completing these missions you get a score which relates to your approval rating and funds for research,base building, personnel hiring, weapon manufacturing and buying, basically you are the secretary of defense in terms of the depth of non battle field play its that deep. Combine that depth with tense exciting and very strategic battles and this games simple little engine is the engine that could because games today still do not have this balance. Low points, it is hard, no joke, its hard even on beginner, but after a day or so because even dying is fun you will be doing ok, high points are everything is done with the intent you will be having fun and challenged and done perfectly.
Replay value- 10(1995 10) you wont stop, and every once and a while for at least 13 years you will come back to it for a few days of hard core gaming the way it used to be before all games were so amazingly easy.
Overall today 9 out of 10, then 10 out of 10, the game play alone is so good its worth 9 points, for those real gamers out there this is your holy grail of strategy games, the best ever on a console, and the leader for 13 years running, even if you can get the pc version from steam for 5 bucks you will find pure unadulterated joy , but for you collectors like me expect to pay at least 75 dollars or higher for the ps1 version.
Also rumors of the Bioshock team doing this game make me happy, as they are the only team that maybe talented enough to do a true xcom remake this good and shows you the kind of respect the community has for the best of the best, xcom ufo defense.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/05/08
Game Release: X-COM: UFO Defense (Long Box) (US, 10/25/95)
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