I don’t know how many of you have played and remember X-Com: Enemy Unknown, but it was one of the earliest games I played that (together with Monkey Island and Civilization and Star Control II, and a whole slew of great games) played a huge part in my formative years as a gamer, and probably was one of the reasons why my taste in games is what it is now. Monkey Island and Star Control brought me an appreciation for great dialogue and story, and Civilisation and X-Com made me love turn-based strategy and tactics games. To this day, things like final fantasy tactics, X-Com and Civilisation still scratch an itch that more modern genres don’t (and no, I’m not a great follower of the modern FPS genre).
X-Com also came from the old school gamer school of thought where games are supposed to be HARD. And UNFORGIVING. As a game where you defend the world from alien invaders, X-Com was more or less a real time strategy overlaid on a turn-based squad combat system. X-Com also came from the old school gamer school of thought where games are supposed to be HARD. And UNFORGIVING. The governments could pull your funding if your performance wasn’t up to snuff or if they fell prey to alien diplomats. Your soldiers would only be wearing combat fatigues and facing floating robots that rain plasma death. Death (and game loss) could come at any time, and take any form. And people who played that game would remember the unreasoning, primal fear at the sight of a Chrysalid; a bug monster that looked like a cross between a crab and the things from Aliens, and that would impregnate any human with an egg that would eat its way out of its host in a few turns.
Unfortunately, X-Com sequels have been pretty hit or miss. X-Com: Terror from the Deep was just Enemy Unknown with water. Apocalypse was interesting, but to me suffered from a fiddly interface. And don’t even get me started on Interceptor and Enforcer, which totally left the strategy/tactical genre to go into flight sim and FPS, respectively. And the latest ‘X-Com’ continues this trend, as 2k remakes X-Com into yet another shooter, strangely enough set in 1960s Americana. It might be a good game (and I’ll probably still check it out), but short of the name and the aliens, I have no idea how it’s going to be X-Com in any way.
So imagine my surprise (and joy) when I here that something suitably X-Commy will be coming our way! From indie publisher Goldhawk Interactive, Xenonauts is what they term a ‘reimagining’ of the original X-Com game. It’s the same type of turn-based tactical combat overlaid with real-time building and strategy that we know and love, but with a suitable number of tweaks that makes it unique. Set in the post cold-war era, this sort of tension lends itself easily to the ‘oh crap we’re all going to die’ atmosphere that made the original x-com so immersive. We’ve also heard things like an updated air combat system, as well as serious consequences to failing or ignoring missions (such as strained diplomatic tensions, or maybe even a ‘scorched earth’ policy of nuking the areas of alien incursion).
Details are still up in the air, as this game is still in development, and previously this game could be pre-ordered (and interested parties could check out on alpha build), but due to Paypal issues, this has recently stopped. So unfortunately, this post has little in the way of detail about xenonauts. But there’s some interesting things you can find on youtube, and you can be sure that as a hardcore X-com fan, I’ll be checking in on their alpha build once they’ve worked out how to get their pre-orders up and running again.
Xenonauts is scheduled to be released end 2011, although I’m guessing sometime in 2012 might also be a possibility.