Friday, September 12, 2008

Byte: Funny old game

One of the nastiest things in the early part of UFO: Enemy Unknown is when you have managed to shoot down a Sectoid Terrorship before it reaches its target and you have to do a recovery mission on it. Admittedly, it's better to do it that way than actually let them do the terrorism, but tackling a Sectoid Terrorship in any circumstances is a pretty hideous proposition. This is mainly because of the Cyberdiscs: evil, damnably accurate miniature UFOs, which have the nasty habit of blowing up everything within a 20 yard radius when you kill them. And there can be anything between one and six of them on the ship. Nice.

But the worst thing about recovering a Sectoid Terror Ship in the early part of the game is the Sectoid Leader. You see, Sectoid Leaders have psionic attacks, and until you capture and research one (and can then consequently research Psionic Laboratories), you have absolutely no idea of which soldiers under your command might be vulnerable to psionic attack. So you've got to take the ship as quickly as you can and nail the leader, otherwise it can mind control parts of your squad, meaning that you have to electro-pod them into submission (assuming you have a medikit to revive them again - since if they don't wake up again before the mission ends, they get counted as an alien and you lose the soldier), ignore them, try to get out of their line of sight and hope they don't throw a grenade at you (though I tend to get all my soldiers to dump their grenades as soon as I discover it's a Sectoid Terrorship - I've learnt the lesson of the badness of having people keep hold of them when they can be mind controlled the hard way), or you have to shoot them yourself, on the principle that it's better to lose one soldier than five.

It's a horrible sound, that squeeee! of a psionic panic or mind control attempt, but it can occasionally make me inadvertently smile, basically because my soldiers are all named after people I know, and I've got a very twisted sense of humour. Like so:
Dan Griliopoulos is under alien control
"Huh... You know, I always suspected. Must be something to do with that premature greyness..."
Richard Cobbett has gone berserk
"Tsk. Well that's not out of character at all. What set him off this time? Has Uwe Boll bought the rights to make a System Shock film?"
Mark Kelly has panicked
"Bloody pansy."
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