Monday, October 27, 2003

Die, alien scum!

I've temporarily abandoned Halo in order to save the Earth from a more direct threat - the Martian scum in UFO: Enemy Unknown. You're probably wondering what the hell I'm doing playing a 9 year old game, when I've still got things like Halo, Neverwinter Nights and GTA: Vice City on my ever expanding "Uncompleted" list.

Well, you can blame Rob, because he keeps annoying me on MSN about how good UFO: Aftermath is. Enemy Unknown is the spiritual ancestor of Aftermath, and is probably the finest Turn Based Strategy game ever made. Despite the now awful 320x240 EGA-o-vision graphics, which can only be rendered on modern PC's if you turn off DirectDraw, Enemy Unknown is utterly atmospheric, beautifully balanced, supremely detailed and ultra-tactical. If I was ever stuck on a desert island with just five games for company, this would be one of them.

I've played through a couple of months of game time, and I was lucky enough to capture a Sectoid Leader in an Abductor, so I'm already researching the Psi-Lab, which should make my life a whole lot easier in the forseeable future. I should be mind controlling aliens by the end of June (and in the game!). Fear my big powerful brain.

One of the beautiful things about Enemy Unknown is that you can rename all the soldiers - which means I inevitably rename them to friends, associates, and people I don't like very much - who I assign to the soldiers with crappy stats, and promptly get them killed. It's very cathartic.

Having already completed the game many times takes away the initial sense of wonder and discovery, as you research all the alien technologies and life forms, but this means that you can play the game in an entirely different way now.

My objective now is to research a full, complete UFOpedia, have eight fully equipped and functional combat bases, and last as long as possible on Earth until I *have* to go to Mars before the alien infiltration missions threaten to shut down X-COM. I think I made it around 18 months last time - this time I want to see if I double that. I'll let you know how it goes.

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