Aug 18 2009
This game was that rare breed, a turn based strategy game I actually liked. When I was playing it I wasn’t sitting there wishing it was real-time, its charm was in the careful planning, the pixel perfect positioning of soldiers, the carefully timed “Storm the front’s”.
Released in 1994, UK-based Mythos Games did the developing and Microprose published, UFO was a smash hit. The elegant blend of squad-based strategy and resource management gave a new lease of life to this style of game. Building on the success of games such as Laser Squad and Games Workshop’s Space Hulk, UFO added some real suspense and a technology development tree that only games like Civilization could match. The closest game to UFO would be Syndicate from Bullfrog. One was turn-based, the other real-time and since I played Syndicate I have never played another turn-based game except for this one.
You oversaw all the action from your HQ and used the world map to try and track alien activity and when found dispatch XCOM squads to shoot it down and investigate the crash site.
A hand-picked squad, some veterans from previous missions would ‘tool-up’ and go on a bug-hunt. Everything could be planned down to the finest detail. Certain soldiers were equipped minimally and with their greater number of movement points they would be your scouts. Medium range soldiers carried smaller, accurate and more rapid-firing weaponry while the remainder were armed with more serious firepower.
Capture an alien corpse or some new weapon and get it back to your craft and your team of scientists would develop new equipment based on the alien technology.
One of the weapons you get later in the game is the Blaster Bomb. This weapon could be moved like a regular soldier. Forward 10 metres, left at the corner, straight up 20 feet and in through the window. “End Turn.” Kaboom! Adios alien.
The careful allocation came down to movement points too. One of your men had spotted an alien in the bottom floor of a barn. He has 28 movement points. 18 points got him in line with a window, 6 to equip the grenade, 4 to pull the pin and 6 to throw it. If you have been paying attention (as I was often not) you will notice that you now have a soldier with a live grenade in his hand and not enough movement points to throw it – as soon as you press “End Turn” he is going to explode. This happened a few times while I was playing and I always took a note of the soldiers name to save the dental-record hassle