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X-Com Revisited

June 26, 2013

Dear Reader,

X-Com was one of the first computer games I really remember playing; it holds a spot next to Syndicate, Might and Magic: The Darkside of Xeen, and Legacy: Realm of Terror as one of the earliest games I really sank my teeth into.  Throughout its re-development, I was worried about how its re-release would affect my perception of the game, as so many other of my childhood memories had been modernized, and in some cases, ruined (like Syndicate).

There was, in fact, an X-Com booth at PAX two years ago, and I didn’t go inside.  For one, I’m not much for standing in lines; I figure there’s something else as interesting but less popular somewhere I could be doing.  Secondly, though, I sort of didn’t want to know.

I know I wasn’t being fair, but so often I’ve been underwhelmed or down-right disappointed by relaunches of things that I simply didn’t want to get my hopes up if it looked good, and most of the reviews said it was.  Even after release, the praise for it kept raining in, so I figured fine; I’ll give it a try when it goes on sale.

If you’re not already doing this, and if you have a little disposable income, you might want to set up a rotation of checking the sales on,, and Steam.  You’d be surprised at how disparate they are; while Steam’s selling games for 60 bucks, Greenman has them for 20, and sometimes vice versa.  It was due to one of these sales that I found X-Com for about 13 bucks and immediately bought it.

I’ve only played it a few hours so far, but it strikes me as by far the most faithful reproduction of an earlier franchise that I’ve experienced.  However, it’s also ironed out many of the more annoying features, making it a wholesale improvement over the first product, which already was an excellent game.

For example, agents who get to cover automatically assume the logical position (crouching, etc), and they’ve done away with overall movement points and simply have 2 actions per turn.  That feels very D&D-ish, which I’m comfortable with.  Additionally, it seems that the inventory system has been greatly simplified, which is a blessing.  Lastly, you don’t start ON your ship, thank god, as in the past occasionally the first person down the ramp got obliterated by “hidden” aliens who’d gone into “overwatch” mode before you even got a turn.  That could be very frustrating back in the day.

I’m playing on ironman mode, meaning there’s no save scumming to undo mistakes.  I played a perfect game for several missions, but then got unlucky; a 70% chance to hit missed, followed by a 50% chance, leaving an alien a whole turn to make me sorry about my bad luck.  It was the “new guy” on the team who got it, too, the first to be recruited once I opened up 5 man teams.  Oh well, at least he wasn’t 3 days to retirement.


Stubborn (and xenophobic)


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