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Illegal Aliens

Entry 1060 posted in: 3. Gamebits

I woke up this morning with a Karen Carpenter tune whistling through my head.
Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?
It is the distinct proof that my brain is slowly alzheiming away. Although it is of course a great song… but not very cool to admit that…

I had promised to do a lot of blogthings, there is an article for the Church crying to be written, I need to extrapolate on my ArianeB walkthroughs now that there has been an online update, my friends at the Late Night forum are flooding me with news and goodies about The City Wakes festival, I still have the Orb album The Dream to listen to, the complete series of The Prisoner to watch, and so on…

To add insult to injury I found last week exactly the right time to download UFO: Alien Invasion. I had downloaded it before once, over a year ago, but then the game was way too alpha to be enjoyable and it had quickly disappeared from my harddisk. But this time was different…

I am of course on a nostalgia tour here because UFO: Alien Invasion is an open source equal of the classic game XCOM: Enemy Unknown, that was issued around 1993 by Microprose. The game was known under different names such as XCOM: UFO Defense and UFO: Enemy Unknown, depending on the country or the publisher you were buying it from.

XCOM was a warfare game, with two different gaming layers, one slightly real-time, the other turn-based..

The Geoscape, a map of the world, let you decide where to build a military base. Given a limited amount of money, you had to divide the funds between military buildings and equipment, research facilities, hospitals, the obligatory power plant and radar… With the remainder of the money military and non-military personnel could be recruited, weapons bought, research sponsored, etc….

After a while the radar would spot a UFO attacking a village and it was up to you and your task force to stop the assault.

The game would then switch over to the Battlescape simulation screen. Basically this was an isometric world where your band of soldiers would try to kill the evil aliens from outer space. Capturing them alive was even better so that your researchers could have a go at proper vivisection. These Battlescape scenarios were turn-based: it was up to the human player to position his soldiers so that they would be able to eliminate the enemy without being subject to enemy fire, taking into account the limited energy (needed for movement and firing) every soldier had per round.

Both simulative worlds, Geoscape and Battlescape, would of course interact with each other. Before each battle, weapons and soldiers had to be chosen in the Geoscape world and after the battle wounded soldiers needed a rest in the hospital, provided you had build one and manned it with medics.

In 2007 XCOM was voted the best PC game of all time by the IGN staff. And now you can play it all over again, in 3D, downloadable at UfoAI. Alien Invasion is not a clone of the original game, it uses its own graphics, music (excellent music BTW) and story-line. Some features are still a bit buggy and not all weapons and buildings have been implemented yet. But I suppose it will be only a matter of time before these will be sorted out.

While researching several bits and pieces for this article I stumbled upon Ufo2000.

UFO2000 is free and opensource turn based tactical squad simulation multiplayer game. It is heavily inspired by the famous X-COM: UFO Defense game. While UFO2000 engine was specifically designed to be compatible with the graphics resources and maps from X-COM, you don't need any proprietary data files to play as a new fan-made set of graphics exists and is included in UFO2000 distribution by default, so the game is ready to run out of the box. But if you want an exact X-COM look and feel, you have an option of installing original X-COM and TFTD data files and use them for extending UFO2000 with additional maps, weapon sets and units.

This remake is closer to the original but can only played against human opponents as AI hasn't been implemented.

If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: open Theme Hospital - 3 different ones