previewed on PC
From Out of the Unknown (well... the Czech Republic)
As a gamer I can be a little obsessive when I find a game I like. I have spent many more nights playing for 'One more turn/level/item' than I would care to admit; if it comes together, I may be doing the same come February and the release of UFO: Extraterrestrials. UFO: Extraterrestrials strives to bring back a turn-based strategy experience akin to the original X-COM series. This is no small undertaking given its popularity. Developed by the Czech outfit Chaos Concept, UFO: Extraterrestrials is expected to be released in February of 2007, after more than 5 years of development and numerous missed releases. Here is hoping this release date is met.
The game isn't just the spiritual successor to the X-COM series, in many ways it feels like a real sequel. The sound and gameplay mechanics are more than a little similar to those of X-COM but modeling a game after X-COM is not a bad thing. When it was released in the mid-90's X-COM garnered much praise and is loved by many gamers (myself included). It is very infrequent that I will enjoy a game that I am absolutely terrible at but that was how it was with the X-COM series; I loved it and boy was I terrible at it.
Where you shoot down UFOs and kill Extraterrestrials
The UFO: Extraterrestrials story takes place on a colonized planet named Esperanza where scientists are alarmed to detect a UFO (who would have guessed it!) which has crash-landed on a nearby planet. Upon investigation, records are found that indicate these aliens have invaded Earth and enslaved the populace. In an effort to combat the expected alien invasion a team is formed named the Counter Alien Force or CAF and it is your job to lead this force.
Those of you who are familiar with the X-COM series will feel right at home here. In general, there are three aspects that you will have to take care of: building bases, researching new technologies, and defending the planet against alien attacks (of course). You will periodically get money to upgrade existing bases and build new ones; this works very similar to the original X-COM as you can create a maximum of 9 bases placed on any landmass you like. Except for when you enter combat mode, gameplay takes place in real-time. But don't think that this is a real-time strategy game as most of the action and gameplay occurs in combat mode.
The meat of the gameplay comes from the combat scenarios. These scenarios will usually start off with a UFO being detected and at this point you will get to pick a ship and a consist of personnel and/or mechanized equipment. Your job is to attempt to intercept and shoot down them extraterrestrials. This is where the game gets interesting as you will have to decide what types of weapons and ammunition to bring, what ship to take and how to outfit your ships. You will have to make decisions on if you would rather bring that tank that takes up the room of 4 additional people, or bring the people instead. This, my friend, is where battles are won or lost. If you were lucky enough to shoot down the UFO your job will be to clean up remaining living aliens; if you didn't, then your task is the same, just more difficult as you will likely have more aliens to exterminate.