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UFO Enemy Unknown
About UFO EU.
A game from The early 90s with many sequels and similarities.
In playing this game on an Amiga emulator recently and not being able to stop playing it. As it has recaptured my imagination again having played it originally back in the 90s. After an interesting encounter with a strange being in a shop where he worked. What seemed a genuine offer of friendship turned out to be an attempt at fencing stolen goods onto the unsuspecting I. Yes perhaps as human as myself but this strange being was/is a thief! And though I enjoyed the game despite irritations with it, I gave it back via his boss after he'd sacked him, as I didn't know or want to know where he lived. His ex-boss reluctantly agreed as my sign of severing all ties!
Now. It can be quite addictive. I found the emulator on ebay claiming to have every Amiga game. I haven't looked at the rest as at my age (42) I don't want to get into it. This one game already takes up much of my time. So Ive decided when this game comes to an end that's it. Back to my real work. -mainly cleaning!
An Introduction or list of criticisms
Now in coming back to the game. Ive started on a low level, and won't go higher. The reason being the turn based war scenes. These are extremely random. I remember a magazine review at the time stating that had this part of the game been more like Cannon Fodder it would've been awarded a higher grade. I forget what the score was but having also played an updated game on Smartphone it looks like some attempt has been made to take account of this. Though UFO ? /XCOM Enemy Defence (?) is still turn based.
So why did i go back to it? Well, apart from playing the hero that saves the world. I like building. Making things better. I like how the earth forces ("XCOM") starts as underdog but has the capacity through successful missions to study the aliens, and their weapons/technology to advance and become equal in the fight against surrendering the earth.
This is something that the earths politicians seem over-eager to do. In their desparation to look good and have peace, it seems they'll bend over backwards to sign a peace treaty and stop the funding of the project. Once all have gone, if you haven't found the main base (Mother ship, in Defence) then the game ends and you are told the aliens lied (which must be obvious to every-one but the idiot polititians and the alien infiltrators which we don't see. Nor do we see the agents of XCom, which only seem to show themselves when you've done poorly enough to miss an alien base.
Better without an ending
I feel games that end detract from themselves somehow. Since Railroad Tycoon, Civilisation, Theme Park and the like. It's not the same as board games where you're playing against somebody (though now you can with civilization),
It feels almost as bad as a machine crash right in the middle of something.
Hey now Don't say it's over
There is nothing that can be done in UFO.. to stop Aliens Infiltrating governments. And I hate losing so much that I save the game regularly and reload it if/when one of my soldiers/tanks get destroyed!
Having said that, if the game continued with a chance ultimately to win the earth back. I would no doubt play until I /my side, or the aliens were completely destroyed. But the game suggests there are more in other star systems/galaxies. And there is the key to continuing the war.
When The Avenger ship reaches Mars. The Cydonia mission being do or die. Though there are follow on games that take things from there. Id rather keep what Ive got! That is to say; money, technology etc. And build from there.
The manual seemed to suggest that things that are sold probably go to criminal elements on the black market, or God forbid, even the aliens themselves!
Now, if you're not familiar with the game. I don't like this idea at all. Captured equipment once researched, even advanced earth equipment made by XCOM Engineers having been researched by Scientists then used by Soldiers of XCOM or sold. But being of the somewhat dreamy pursuation. I like to think there's a RESISTANCE led by those countries armed forces initially taking part in funding the project. And that these resistance forces do much work unseen. Behind the scenes, if you like. And even trying to stock up for any onslaught by the aliens in the respective countries; in case it gets too overwhelming in number for XCOM alone, or the project is shut down etc.
When i first played many years ago. I was so determined by this aim that I even made ships long after i needed them to give away (because of the bug). Now. I just give what becomes obsoleye (as you can't dismantle anyway) For Instance; The Lightning is a good stop gap and quicker, cheaper to make than an Avenger (The best craft available to be made once enough research has been done).
However Romanticizing (in my screen-crazzed head) that Firestorms can be sold and work with earths Skyranger's or the Lightnings. Each country could start with a minimum of two Firestorms each (air combat only XCOM Craft) and one Lightning (lander craft XCOM. no tanks HWPs) or if they must have a tank, they might loan a skyranger off Russia. All this would probably be assisted by swarms of USA loaned Interceptors?
Anyway. from my 'dreaming in dreamland' point of view. All Im doing is stocking them up to help them help out if needed. -And keep the project going of course.
Believe it or not, there was a reason for me to try this. I was trying to stop governments signing peace pacts ( through the alien Infiltration missions).
The next idea I had was to capture The alien Commander, and Leader/s from the big battle ships. Though that hasn't worked either! Clearly the game is programmed to only need these to find cydonia. But in dreamland/the programmers future projects, surely in Infiltration missions these guys could also be Researched/interogated to find how the aliens take human form, and where and how they do this -(perhaps as Immigrants from a foriegn base???).
Unfortunately, as there's nothing programmed beyond Cydonia or Bust, the game has to end somehow and therefore the programmers made Infiltrations mandatory. Though i haven't completely given up on there being a way to pursuade governments to change there mind.
Im thinking, perhaps it goes by points. If you get too many. like in a game programmed from a book on The Commodore 16 years ago. If you got too much in debt on Star Trader, your ship would be repossesed. However if you got too much money, the bank would reposses the ship anyway? And as the program did have a couple of bugs. it is uncertain whether this is also a bug in Star Trader.
Infiltrations in UFO EU. is probably a good way to stop XCOM becoming a business. Though the game could've increased the enemy -much is made of 'the alien hordes' of which a glimps isvrarely seen; at least on the lower levels.
Base (1 of 8 in this)
Take me to your leader!
If the game were expanded the ideas for the possibilities are mind blowing.
1. Governments being what they are. Surely there could be a way that XCOM could work on them, pursuading them to tear up the pact, or at least working to catch the spy's that take human form (currently assumed/unseen in the game).
XCOM agents occur sometimes at the monthly review with the location of a base. (I assume only if it has been there a long time not found). This could perhaps be expanded for above, and to set funds aside to employ more and have them focus on certain areas with selected aims/objectives etc. Uncovering plots could be added to finding bases. As long as there are enough agents in that area to increase the chances significantly enough.
Attack of the clueless
I used to use multiple ships to bring down the Battleships. (The largest and only to be able to fire beyond The xcom plasma weapon/s.)
I gave up on fusion bombs (except for bases, where i have 3or preferably 4) because on ship there's only two. Which can be wasteful when trying to catch smaller ships and ending up destroying them instead.
The same reason i stopped (for the moment at least) using two plasmas when one will do.
To take on this big ship with one craft. (You need crafts with two weapons. preferably The Avenger as it can outpace it) With a plasma and a lazer. Select Standard attack. 2. When Avenger reaches lazer range, you can risk going aggressive -if their craft keeps missing. Though it is still a risk! Or select Cautious Attack. And vary the distance by switching to standard for at least another lazer shot. Until the craft is damaged so much that it automatically switches to Stand-off mode. When this happens switch to Cautious attack so you keep firing! You might just win! ...If you have two plasmas on the craft. You can select Aggressive Attack, go as far as you dare until the safety damage switch kicks in. then as before set cautious/standard.
It soon became obvious though that the only alien missions you have to scramble craft to take on in the air are Retaliation missions. Even leaving a Terror ship until it lands, though you lose the ship, may just remind governments the real intentions of the aliens and how useful XCOM actually is! I say this because so far I haven't beaten the impulse to chase the so and so'se which has no effect on negating governments succumbing to infiltrations from these strange beings. So, either there's more to it than points. Perhaps terrified citezens have an unseen score relevant to helping against the infiltrators.
With Retaliations. Protect your base by setting to a way point, then attack the aliens from that direction.
That is assuming you have the faster craft etc.
Though, I have only ground tested this (on easy levels). I resent the randomness of the battlescape. I once read in a magazine review of the time that "Instead of time based, if battles were more like cannon fodder..." the reviewer would have given it a higher rating, certificate of excellence etc. I kind of agreed. Though my imagination had taken off by then, as Id played it for free!
The UFOs use Elerium 115. An element made up of materials not found in our solar system. This is where the Immagination takes off!
When you've got the faster landing craft. You can often wait until the invader lands then sound out a ship. This way no air battle that is better because even in the best scenario. The alien ship crash lands resulting in most, if not all the elerium it was carrying being destroyed. (it is obviously very volatile -explosive- material!!!). Dont use granades in, or Fusion launchers in or near the ship, and if a soldier shoots and hits something that explodes, or even the power source. It's bye, bye, elerium! So, be careful.
My initial sales involved all the earth technologies -once built and in a good enough strategic position to spare the engineers. Are:
Motion Scanner (never learnt to work this anyway)
lazers: pistol, riffle, heavy, Cannon, & Tank
7 items. The tank being the most profitable.
8 = Personal Armour, especially once all ships are built and hangers filled. As there is usually Alien Alloys coming out of the stores by then. And in the unlikely event of needing a new ship, these alloys can be reproduced on earth!
Now the way to more elerium is discovered, the profits can really start!
There are two types of tanks requiring elerium. Plasma, and Fusion, the latter also needs weapons to be made & stocked up for it. I don't see a need for this HWP as the soldiers hand held version is powerful enough and takes less space. Having the added advantage of being provided and stocked up from successful raids.
Raiders of the lost...
After a google search, I read that in Infiltration missions. Once the second Battleship arrives. The base is there, and the pact is already signed. You can only slow it down.
Previously. I kept The old Skyranger and the two Interceptors that come at the start of the game. But reading the excellent tip that no matter how long it takes to find a base. The system updates only every 30mins. game time. So. now if any ship on patrol does not find a base after two or three game hours, i will move it some way within the sought region. And use the Interceptor less, especially now as elerium is easier to come by I use the Skyranger less. -Thoough Im not rushing to get rid of them, I now only have one of each. I will make sure the All BaseStores are at 300 minimum of elerium and rising before I phase them out completely.
Now, this is where the money making side of things really kicks off. And if this was found to happen in reality, there would be uproar! If you attack the base you get the points. Pointless points as the battle is lost already! Leave it and Supply ships will come... extra elerium -let them land and pounce!
Why both aren't discovered/fought by the troops is either a clever landing or just a bug in the program. (obviously, the capitalist in me!)
He who Dares dreams
If you defeat the aliens on mars. It reads that in saving earth, you've uncovered loads of advancements to keep your researchers going for many years.
...Who funds this research?, and if the threat is diminished what is the point? So, what is to become of The XCOM Project?
What happens to the countries that "Simoke-um Peace pipe!? Do those that held out wage war on these? -
-Do the remaining aliens escape to their homeworld to warn and set up the war again? Perhaps helped by the peace at all cost do gooders.
If continuing. Perhaps XCOM Agents may discover the plot. XCOM now being a living -game- "reality" (no. I havent completely lost it. not quite yet!) And the countries of the world while not really needing to fund the project. Need the "XCOM Corporation" to build up their war defences! -as will criminals, I suppose.
So XCOM must trace the alien world with a view to finding the elerium source. .."A-hem!"! I mean, err. defending the earh! ..from possible future attack..
And so now, the sho is very much on the other foot. Though, perhaps if not funded enough this may initially go on unnoticed (trips to and from the homeworld).
How would XCOM sell equipment, new discoveries etc. to pact signers?
a battlescape scenario
Up up and away
In truth. For several game months now. Ive been in a position to assemble the best of my troops together and take on the mars mission. "Cydonia or Bust".
But of course when I do the game ends! And prolonging it. Besides my silly dreaming, allows me to increase XCOM wealth massively. (over 300 million. Despite learning some of these tips quite late!)
That day dreaming. Besides allowing me to humiliate the 'poor' aliens, has allowed me to come up with many ideas of how the game could continue.
A question of conspiracy
Perhaps if a country suspects XCOM is prolonging the war. It would be more likely to withdraw from the project. But as USA have gone, whom does the Interceptor get returned? (I may have mixed this up. The skyranger might be American, and Interceptor Russian; same difference).
OK. So in reality Im reading too much into it. It's merely a computer program saying add that or deduct this, funding=x and so on. But suppose it was todays virtual reality (or even real life!), what would happen in this scenario? Would XCOM keep paying the rent to the country? or stop? Would the craft be withdrawn from XCOM? Instead you can still get more craft if required! Or/and keep them until project is ended altogether by too many leaving the project.
At this point, the game currently ends. And we are told "The alien hordes are overwhelming in number." ( Hence the idea to stock up earths forces.) and "though they start out peaceful, their real objectives soon become apparent." and are clearly quite sinister as humans are shown with extra limbs etc. Clearly another monster race for their invasions. (This makes me wonder what their homeworld is like? Do they suffer a dying planet? Is elerium available all over in their star system/galaxy?
...have i too much time on my hands? etc.!
some niggles and open ends
In cydonia/ mars mission. Soldiers can go and survive in personal armour, without breathing assistance!
Though this is another self dream pursuation. now elerium is easier to get. I am thinking of equiping Rookies with a Power Suit until they earn promotion, even if i have enough Flying suits. Whearas before Personal Armour is a good stop gap. Also considering selling powersuits when there's too much elerium ("He-hee, who would've thought!")
If on getting to the alien galaxy. Would Agents be able to get into their governments? To say, find out what other worlds they have waged war with, andhow species came to be to serve them, and from where, what? etc.
PsiWar. (ie. mind control) I was over the moon with this when i first played. Though the limitations are. 1. You can't start training until the month has elapsed. So if you buy new or transfer recruits the latter' training will stop, and you have to wait to start it again! (Those that prove to have a strength rating below 60, send home (or to the resistance, as my wild imagination has it!) as they will be no use against the Ethereal race, and struggle against Sectoids.
If you take an aimed shot with the soldier kneeling. The soldiers aim improves -if they hit. Also if a recruit cannot use a weapon like a Launcher either fusion or stun. Keep the loaded weapon in their hand. Give them a pistol and the more aliens hit/killed will improve their time units. Promotion will increase this significantly.
A niggle on the load weapons screen. Is that no-one seems to want the launcher (fusion). And much prefer to go out with a pistol. (i use a lazer pistol as backup for these specialist soldiers).
In a real war. "Alien Hordes" would still need building. Suggesting that there are manufacturing plants (or sections for this on the bases, at least on mars or/and in their homeworld/s. However in this really virtual war. The computer can just produce more on more to infinity with no extra memory than it takes to produce one virtually. Not sure how this would work if game were expanded.
I am using The UK, Amiga version. Through an emulator bought from a bloke on ebay who said he'd copied and cracked the lot. I just wanted it to have it. Im not playing any of the others, and at age over 40 didn't expect to get this involved in the game.
The game in the USA has, I believe, a different name. And both have all but vanished. Though it seems to have resurfaced because about a year ago, I played a similar game on Android called "UFO Enemy Defence" if memory serves. I was again let down by the ending. And it's harder to play, though the designers have tried to fix the black market idea, though countries have an unrealistic deadline. Though i do get it, that if you can't provide it they may be more likely to look to the aliens to get it.
I recently saw an Ad. for XCOM 2 featuring a new alien (though similar to sectoid) in any case. Im not bothered about this. I would much rather have a more flexible (non directed) story line. With no ending as eventually saviours of countless races/planets, and even funding/supplying civil wars here and there!
serious under / overtones?
It wasn't obvious at first, and certainly not a conscious purpose for writing or even playing the game in the first place. But as i read through i notice there are possibly/potentially some kind of similar tones to real life. Whereas "marginal groups" take the form of the aliens against western governments. And inevitably cause chaos and perhaps even the eventual destruction of tradition and life as we know it on earth. And governments claim it's a good thing as they are getting money, labour etc. instead of having to spend it or deal with the issues facing them.
I hesitated to put this, anticipating the wrath that might come my way. Though it is worth noting i have not rejected friendliness from any-one in any marginal /minority group where I have felt it genuinely offered. However since terror attacks, and others for example trying to change the constitution of things to make it more familiar with their own likeness rather than the purposes of that which it was originally built for. I have thus found this harder to do so. (not yet impossible, again if genuine with no agenda etc.) But I feel this is a natural element from a survival instinct, rather than any negative prejudice learned from the misguided. I still do all I can to respect others etc. That is to say I won't cause others harm knowingly... But I dont believe it is unfair to say if you dont like a place it is more normal to leave it. Not to blow it up or/and try to change it! Though perhaps this is another blog!
A brief walkthrough
As I meant to write about the game. I do not want to end on a serious political point. Suffice to acknowledge that I am aware of it.
So this is a very brief walk through that should work even on Superhuman (the highest/hardest) leveĺ.
The game tends to come to you a bit. So whether you choose to click on usa or europe. You will see Aliens. Give your base a name. I just go with simplicity as it is easier to remember. ("USA1", "EU2", "OZ3", etc.) I number the bases in order of creation. So when the pop says something like "Lazer Cannon completed at Antarctica4" for example. I instantly know which to click to on the bases screen to sell/use it and start the next item manufacture.
When You've got your first base set up. Go straight to it. (dont dawdle time is ticking!). Set scientists to lazer weapons tesearch. Dont change until you've got as far as Heavy Lazer.
Immediately purchase 4 more soldiers. Forget about tanks at this stage, they are a bit useless, take up too much room and cost a fortune!
Get as many scientists as the base will allow. Build another living quaters. (You will need more of each of these and more engineers as soon as the quaters are built!)
As soon as you are told "You can now produce Lazer Pistols" do so get enough for each soldier. Then keep producing them as much as you can. Not too many as you will (if you're taking any notice of this) will have set the next research project to Lazer Riffles. So will switch to these in the same manner. When Heavy Lazers come in, you can sell back the cannon weapons as they are cumbersome anyway and the soldiers can barely use them -initially/without effort from you to train them or/and find a more suitable soldier; a higher rank perhaps.
Dont buy Incenduries. As yet your soldiers have no armour, and are more likely to be burnt alive than the aliens!
Do invest in another Science lab, and workshop. As the importance of having plenty of these at bases early on will become apparent. But dont put more than four workshops and two labs on a base. As you will eventually grow your operation to 8 bases. And there are other facilities like an Alien containment. Get one now. (They hold 10 aliens and so long as you get one on every base ASAP. you wont need more, but there's nothing worse than the message "Alien dies due to lack of containment facility" and as some occassionally get injured instead of becoming corpses, it's better to be ready.
Also as you have the money get another general stores. You will need more of these as the game goes on. I tend to end up with three or four per base. They hold equipment; weapons and such, which can fill up quickly.
Whatever happens early on. You are more likely to catch a small alien vessel with the skyranger -when it lands. As you dont need weapons for this. Whatever you do. The Aliens will soon Terrorise a city. Get there fast with the skyranger and zap the aliens, not the civilians. (they are easy to tell apart).
You might find with this tactic of waiting for the foe to land that it is better to have two or even three skyrangers than two interceptors. See if this tactic works for you, as the bigger alien ships laugh in the interceptors face, and all can outrun them!
You will find the place to sell/sack, purchase/Recruit, Build new facilities, even new bases etc. in the base screen. leave that for now.
Back on the geoscape. Click advance by 1Day -at a time. And wait. When something happens you will be notified, and allowed to deal with it accordingly in 5secs mode.
You might wish to avoid dealing with craft (concentrating on terror) until you have researched Heavy Weapons. (In which case your next step is to Research medikit. And do be sure to keep selling items as this is more effective and quicker than waiting for government funding at the end of the month. HWP Lazer Cannons give 94,000 profit but are expensive. And with the only break of filling your craft with plenty medikit (about 6-8) you will make money quickes selling Lazer cannons.
Upgrade with bases and facilities as soon as you can. Click on a cenyral empty square to get your lift shaft item. You only need one short range and one long range Radar at each base. Later you will gain the technology to build a HyperWave Decoder. It's range is vast and it doesn't miss a trick. So you can place your bases quite a way from each other to cover as much land mass as possible (remember, they can't land on sea!)
As you do this getting your rader at an initial workshop and research facility. then when these are built, you can get a living quaters (which takes less time to build than the workshop in particular. However, if/while you're desperate to research. you might go for this and living space before the workshop. Perhaps putting the long range rader fifth is a good tactic as it really does take an age to build workshops!
Hangers come next. You wont initially need more than two. And seldom, if ever require four. In areas of land mass, go for three. In the south pole (antarctica) two should be suffice. Make sure there is a look out post early on there. And living quaters and stores for soldiers, in case aliens spot it and it needs to be defended. As anything less than fusion defences is something of a waste. When the technology arrives have 3 fd. and the 1 grav shield. (two gs wont make any difference and waste space. 1 mind shield should be sufficient.
When psi comes. As much technology is researched. the need for labs gets less and less. until there's nothing more to discover (sad face), then on the up side. the research lab technitians can go home! (I tend to save the original 10 and one base square on one base for silly nostalgia -more my imagination about what a remake could be! ..?)
When you use Two hangers instead of three allows for more research/workshops. While the lower levels allow time, in the higher ones speed is of the essence. Build fast to get to the final mission. Dont forget to buy enough living space to house the workforce!
see diagram below.
Amazing BASE (unless you know different)
above: An early plan
A) should say Fusion for fusion bomb defences, not Plasma.
also. research / /& some workshop space can later be used as hanger space, if you wish/need extra ships/soldiers.
And it later became apparent that blank spaces on grid 2+ (/& beyond) needed to be living quaters to house enough workers to go with research & manufacture.
"And now the conclusion!", as they say in Star Trek.
epilog (as they say in The Invaders, a Quin martin production)
It may be rare that base layout happens so well placed/planned. A case of needs must.. etc. But try to make as few changes as possible as these waste precious time and resources.
For instance. I tend to do autopsies once Ive got the main alien equipment. Mind Probe, Heavy Plasma & clip, Stun bomb & launcher, Fusion power through to base defences. So then i can sell the smelly corpses without keeping some for them back for research, and allow a breath of fresh air for the staff!
But unless I need the space in Alien containment, Besides researching Alien Origins, (as this leads to cydonia or bust) I dont particularly waste time interogating navigators/medics or engineers for ship and species intel.
Try to get plasma tabks as they are useful scouts. psi weapons -though there are a couple of things needed first including Ethereal autopsy... (if memory serves)
There is a bug in the program. So if say You transfer two Snakeman/? Engineers to the same base. You will lose one of them!
Finally Tactics on the combat. I can't really teach much about best formations. As these will most likely change as you go on. Initially I send one soldier out to look around. If he sees something and has viewed 360 degrees. s/He can take a shot. Or hide if less time. (even squat, though less likely to help on the higher levels as the foe become increasingly accurate, while XCOM seem to become increasingly dumb; shooting all over creation more often.
Dont bother buying human granades, they tend to have little effect. The defeated aliens provide their grenades. I still wouldn't call researching these a priority as it can be quite annoying to prime the grenade only to find out you cant throw it where you wanted. If It had an accept/decline button would help. though i believe later editions have corrected this flaw somewhat.
it may be worth buying a few stun rods later on only. as psi becomes available and well developed. disarming them becomes a doddle (easy) and as they are easy to store on the back. often easier than marching required soldier/s to the specialist with the researched stun bomb.
Well. Ive taken you well beyond the start. Further than I originally intended. I look forward to your questions/comments and base plan of your favourite, and how you work with/around the initial partial set up of base1.
- Game Review Hub: XCOM Enemy Unknown
XCOM manages to stay true to the series roots, while making it more accessible to newcomers, and it will still have you ripping all your hair out and loving every minute of it.