Let’s Fail: Rogue Legacy Part 1

My girlfriend and I have begun our very own Let’s Play series! But unfortunately that has been put on hold while we fail at playing Rogue Legacy.

Fun drinking game: take a shot every time Murdock says, ‘Bollocks’. Note: We are not liable for any illness or injury that may occur.

5 Things I would like to see in FIFA 14

So, with FIFA 13 heading towards the exit door and FIFA 14 slowly appearing on the horizon, its time to have a look back at the last year of awesome goals, annoying controls, iffy AI and controller smashing annoyance. FIFA 13 was probably the strongest FIFA game to date but even then it got blood-curdlingly frustrating at time. So what major differences would we like to see in the next instalment? I’ve taken a few minutes to comprise a short list of what I would like to see. 

A few honourable mentions before I begin because I either didn’t think of them before I started writing or I didn’t feel they were as important. I’d like a better physics engine as players are constantly tripping over each other just by brushing past or falling over a piece of paper someone left on the field. I would also like to see a Road to the World Cup style mini game, which you can get to a point in FIFA 13, except that it’s called the World Championships and just doesn’t feel like the World Cup. 

I’d like to have a bit more freedom in the Player Career mode. It would be nice to be able to buy things with your salary, appearing on shows, do news conferences and interviews. And while they’re at it, they could make the goalkeeper mode less boring as well. 

1) LESS SCRIPTING 

Scripting is a bit of a myth in FIFA. There are people who swear it happens just about every time and others who say it’s all down to the fitness levels of your players etc. If you don’t know what scripting is, it’s FIFA lingo for a goal, or game that you can’t prevent or win. For example, if your winning 2-1 in the 90th minute and suddenly it feels like your players are crap, you can’t manage to get the ball and the opponents run straight to your goal and score, that is scripting. 

I’m not sure I truly believe that this happens, but you can’t deny that the amount of 90 minute goals scored both by the AI and the player is an absolute joke. You hardly ever see last minute goals in the premier league and yet you will be scoring them every game or so in FIFA. So, I would like to see less of it. Conceding a goal gets even more frustrating when it feels like there’s nothing I could have done about it. 

2) BETTER FINESSE SHOTS 

Again, for those who don’t know what this is, a finesse shot is choosing placement over power. In FIFA 12, they were overpowered. If you used one you were almost certain to score assuming you were within scoring distance and didn’t blast it over. However, in FIFA 13, they nerfed them to buggery. This wouldn’t be a bad thing if they didn’t do it so haphazardly. They’ve turned them from all powerful shots into the equivalent of a five years old’s shooting. 

So some kind of balance would be nice. To not score ever single shot, but not miss ever single one. 

3) LESS PACE WHORING 

In FIFA 13 all your team needs is pace. If you have a fast squad you will be just about unbeatable. Sure there are other stats that make it easier, such as having high stamina, but generally as long as your fast you’re going to win. The way the AI has your players making runs effectively means a well time chipped through pass over the top will leave the defenders eating dust, so as long as you don’t choke when you get one on one, you’re going to score. 

Defenders are generally slow, but strong whereas attackers are fast and weak. This is supposed to balance out as centre backs can muscle forwards off the ball, but they can’t get anywhere near them in the first place. I would like to be able to employ a better tactic than ‘run past the opponent’ in FIFA 14. 

4) OFFICIAL CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LICENCE 

Any football fan knows that the Champions League is the biggest tournament in club football so it makes absolutely no sense that the official football game of the FA isn’t actually allowed to call the tournament the ‘Champions League’ using the much more generic ‘Champions Cup’. I think having the official name and logos will add to the atmosphere of career mode more than just about anything else. 

Also, a small nit pick, but I would like for them to have the correct match orders in the Champions Cup as well. They don’t seem to understand how the fixtures are set during the group stage which annoys me more than it should. 

5) BETTER PLAYER FACES AND STADIUMS 

Marouane Fellaini is the face that really annoys me in this game. He is a really good player attracting interest from all the good clubs, but his face just looks like crap in the game. It looks like EA grabbed the postman that morning, stuck an afro on him and tried to pass him off as Fellaini. It’s not enough just to use the players name, I want to actually feel like I am controlling the official players not their uglier twin brothers. 

As for the stadiums, there are a couple in FIFA 13 such as the Etihad and these ones are by far the best. The generic stadiums just don’t feel right for some reason. Any small boys dream is to play at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge or the Emirates, but, as an Everton fan, I have always wanted to play at Goodison Park. Unfortunately, there is no sign of it in FIFA 13. 

As I said, I believe FIFA 13 is the strongest in the long line of football games, but it is no where near perfect. Polish the game play, fix a few issues and generally tart it up and I believe FIFA 14 could be the defining football game.

Papers, Please Review

There aren’t many people whose version of a good time is mindlessly stamping pieces of paper for people who secretly hate you and who you’re not particularly fond of either. Personally, it reminds me too much of a few failed retail jobs, but ‘Papers, Please’ does the impossible of taking a boring job and making it…well…not fun. Even more depressing. 

Papers, Please is set in the fictional dystopian country of Arstotzka where they apparently assign jobs by a ‘Wheel of Fortune’ affair as you have been randomly chosen as the new Immigration Inspector at the new checkpoint. Arstotzka have recently ended a six year war with neighbours Kolechia and you are tasked with weeding out the liars, drug dealers and criminals trying to creep into your beloved country. 

You have various mechanics to do this with, but the most commonly thing you’ll be doing is looking at the date to see if their passport has expired. It doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs, but the game quickly introduces special instructions at various points in the game. For example, at certain points the game won’t allow a certain nationality through, will force people coming to you’re county to work to show valid worker’s permits and giving out ID cards to all foreigners so you can make sure they aren’t too tall etc. It’s oddly compelling and satisfying when you realise that someone is three centimetres too tall before slamming down the ‘DENIED’ stamp all over their pristine passport. In between your job, you wander off home to manage your bank account. You get paid pittance for your crappy job leading to some difficult decisions when you arrive back to your family and you realise you only have 25 credits which is enough to use to eat, or to have heating and not both. 

It makes you determined not to screw up, as if you do your superiors will issue you a penalty causing you to lose even more of your meagre salary and, further in the game, you have so much to remember to do you’ll sometimes forget to check the obvious, like making sure they match the picture, or that the date of birth is the same. I played the game for an hour straight, then took a breath and realised I needed more oxygen and it took me a few minutes to realise why. Every time I let someone through I was holding my breath, waiting for the dreaded printer sound that indicates you’ve screwed up. Any game that also makes me suffocate must be doing a good job. 

If there was ever a game that proved you don’t need shiny graphics to be a good game, it is definitely this one. The entire game is made entirely with pixels giving it a retro feel. The lack of beautiful visuals actually adds more to the game giving it a gritty, surreal feel that hammers home the more poignant moments in the game, such as when a woman with a terminal illness can’t get the right documents to get through and obtain the surgery she need, so you have to choose between sending her back to inevitable death or letting her through taking a cut to your own salary that may be the difference between your children eating that night or not. 

There is something of a storyline as well. Every now and then something will happen, whether it be being given a list of criminals to watch out for, being approached by a secret group trying to ‘save’ the country or just a dirty old man trying to sneak through border patrol with a hand made passport. You’ll also have people trying to jump the barricade and getting shot down by the soldiers near by, or by you if you’re quick enough, suicide bombers attacking and a few regular customers visiting you repeatedly to keep your chin up. 

I’ve listed a lot of good things here and, if I’m honest, it’s a bit of a struggle to find criticisms. There definitely were some. No game is perfect, but they all seem to get dog piled by what the game does well. But, I owe it to my integrity to find a few nit picks. Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether there is actually an anomaly on someone’s passport or whether it’s just the way the characters were drawn as the pixellated aesthetics can be hard to decipher at times. But then, it is fairly quick to check whether or not it’s just your imagination, so you don’t lose too much time. Sometimes, when you’re given missions to do they’re really vague about how to do it. At one point I was told an assassin was trying to get through and I had to ‘stop him’. I wasn’t sure whether this meant deny him entry or kill him, but seeing as I was given some poison as well, I assumed the latter but no matter what I tried to do I couldn’t seem to do it. I guess it’s the pacifist in me, but it meant I had to deny him access and was promptly fined for turning away someone who was allowed in. 

But these things just don’t seem to be such a big deal when I think about them. The game is charming, atmospheric and really makes you want to do well. For a while, I was repeatedly restarting when I went wrong because I was getting sick of the dreaded printer noise and the pile of fines growing on my desk were starting to mock me. I would be lying if I said I had ‘fun’ with the game, because that’s not really what it exists for. It shows you the life of the downtrodden. It shows you a cruel world where you have to scrimp and save to stop your family from freezing during the winter. Where you have to accept bribes simply to be able to eat. 

The gameplay may be fairly simplistic, but it gets the job down. I can’t think of another game that has made me this terrified of failure and for that alone it is worth a recommendation. 

9/10 – Don’t go into this game expecting a rip snorting adventure. This is a game where you watch someone waste their life in a menial job. Go into it with an open mind and you’ll be as transfixed as I was.

Suikoden II Review

Right. I’m going to try to do this review with the utmost professionalism and restraint.

Suikoden II is THE BEST GAME EVER and if you haven’t played it you’re not human, let alone a gamer!

I said I’d try, not that I’d succeed.

Suikoden II tells the story of Riou, a member of the Highland Army Youth Brigade, and Jowy, his best friend when, one night, the camp is attacked, apparently by the City-State. The rest of the unit is wiped out trying to flee while Jowy and Riou work out that maybe there’d be an ambush at the ONLY escape route. Clearly, these two characters are the only smart ones in the game.

Our heroes attempt to report to their commanding officer and over hear him talking to the best villain in any media, Luca Blight. A man so cartoonishly evil that he literally laughs his head off while murdering a woman who is acting like a pig. Really. This happens.

Anyway, Jowy and Riou eavesdrop that the attack was actually at the order of Luca, who is prince of the Highlands, to make it appear that the City-State broke a recently signed peace treaty and inspire his country into a war that no one wants. The only way for our heroes to escape is to leap off a waterfall after promising that, should they get split up, they will return there. Riou gets found by a few State soldiers and nursed back to health and that’s as far as I’m going with the story. The story line is so unique and charming that I can’t go into detail without giving away spoilers. This review would turn into a two thousand word essay on that aspect of the game alone.

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The game play itself is as you’d expect for a turn based RPG. You select your attack, or item, and choose which enemy or ally you want to use it against. You have magic taking the shape of runes and your characters can link up together in ‘Unite’ attacks. This is where two or more of your party attack at the same time, using up both of their moves, to do a special attack . Typically, Riou and Jowy’s is the most affective unite in the game, but it makes it fun taking a different party than you usually use and trying out all the various abilities you can use.

It’s a good attempt to make every single character feel useful. In some games with there are characters that I just never use, Mass Effect is the biggest example of this. As soon as I get Garrus and Liara I never use anyone else.

I said, ATTEMPT because that’s exactly what it is. In reality, you will have five other characters you like, either personality wise or combat wise and you will simply never use any of the others unless the game forces you to. This is particularly annoying when you get lumbered with an awfully weak character and told you have to spend the next hour with them in your party. There are several times I was wiped out and I place the blame firmly on one characters head. He knows who he is.

This also makes it frustrating in possibly the most memorable scene in the game for me. You are charged to ambush an important member of the Highland army and need three groups of characters to take him down. You can get away with only winning with Riou’s group, but he becomes so much more difficult to beat if you fail with the other two. It’s the toughest boss fight in any game and features the most memorable scenes ever for me.

There are also several mini games within the main game including a lovely little iron chef game, again, I’m not making this up. A chef joins your army and receives challenges from others and you have to select what food he makes. It’s hilarious, if a little out of place. I refuse to believe that the leader of an army defending itself from the Highlanders has time to cook.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses. The game has a special place in my heart, however it can still be frustrating at times. The dungeons are possibly the worst part of the game. I understand that they want to test our skill, but the general feel of any dungeon in the game is, if you want to get from A to B you first have to go through X then back up to M before going to C, then back to S. It has the most circuitous routes I have ever seen, including one time when I went the entire way through the dungeon then realised I was BEHIND where I started! We have magic, why didn’t we just blow a great big hole in the wall and save ourself two hours and fifty thousand random encounters?

Oh lord, the random encounters. Remove the word random and replace it with “Every two step” encounters. That’s a far more honest term for them. The main culprit being in the final area, which I suppose I can understand, but it doesn’t make it better. I swear, in the space of a ten second corridor I was attacked five or six times. Luckily the game employs a system where you can ‘Let Go’ an enemy, so if you are far too strong from them, you can immediately exit the combat with no penalty which sounds good, but it absolutely destroys the immersion and flow of the game. So, I get attacked by six Highland soldiers, I tell them it’s fine, they can leave and they go without a fuss? They’re not very good soldiers then are they? Maybe this entire war could have been avoided if I just told Luca Blight, it’s fine, he’s excused.

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Back into the positives come the battle systems, of which this is an AWFUL screenshot…I decided I wanted to use more screenshots of games but promptly forgot until I was almost at the final boss battle…Ahem…

Anyway, you control various infantry, archers and magic users made up of the various 108 characters you can collect. Some are stronger than others and some your main focus should be not getting them killed. If they are defeated in battle they can die permanently. For real. And if they die, you cannot get the best ending in the game.

That’s right, multiple endings! This brings me to the last obnoxious point of the game. You need all the characters to get the true ending, however, there are characters that if you miss you can NEVER get back, therefore making it impossible to get the best ending. There is one character where if you don’t go to a certain bit of a certain city at a certain time, he doesn’t appear again and you have to reload a save usually cutting out hours and hours of grind. There are some characters where, if you’re skipping through dialogue too quickly, you can accidentally press the wrong reply and tell them to get stuffed when they ask to join you. Again, these characters will NEVER appear again.

Saying that, they do try and make it clear what characters are recruitable. A characters sprite stands out from a mile against the NPC sprites and all characters of importance have a portrait to accompany their speech, so if you see one you can bank on either having to kill them later or them joining you, or sometimes both.

Overall, I feel my first paragraph sums up my feelings towards the game. It is my favourite of all time. The characters are likeable and well rounded, that goes for all 108. They all have their unique quirks and most of them have a funny line or two to make you warm to them. It does get harder to like characters you recruit towards the end though as they are with you for such a short period of time. And typically these are the strongest characters in the game as well.

If you like JRPGs, play this game. It is hard to come by, but I’m sure you can emulate it if it comes to that. In fact, if you don’t like JRPGs try this game out anyway. The story is a roller-coaster that included bits that made me laugh and, I’m not ashamed to admit, parts that made me cry. There are truly heart wrenching scenes in this game and you’ll always remember the first time you complete it.

10/10 – No surprises if you’ve read any of this review whatsoever. I could forgive a lot because the story line is so good, but the combat is so well presented and executed that it doesn’t NEED to be forgiven. Plus the fact the battle system breaks up the tedium regularly so it never gets dull means that, if I could go higher, I would. I seriously can’t recommend it enough.

The Problem with Triple A Titles

I have always been a gamer. Even my choice of friends eventually boiled down to who had the best video games consoles when I was younger. My householde was too poor to afford the original PS when it first game out. My first console ever was a sega master system and that was about fifteen years after its release. The only games I owned were Ghostbusters, which was a strange title where you would attached a vacuum cleaner to the top of the car and drive around sucking up ghosts, and Alex Kidd. That is I owned Alex Kidd because it came with the system, not that you suck up Alex Kidd using a vacuum cleaner, although I feel that would have made it more interesting.

It wasn’t a very good game. In fact if it wasn’t for Alex Kidd then I would have said my purchase of the master system was pointless. However, one of my friends had a sega, I can’t remember what kind, with a football game on that we played a lot and I had access to a PS1 through another, so my childhood was mostly spend playing games albeit on other people’s consoles.

Now, in the space year 2013, I have struggled to get into a lot of games. I have owned, played for a bit, then got bored of several mainstream titles including, but not limited to, Gears of War, Flashpoint, Call of Duty and Battlefield. So my question is, why? Why am I finding it so hard to enjoy these titles? You have to image that retro games are retro for a reason. Because either they didn’t work, or have since been surpassed. All I know is, if I want to unwind, I reach for Crash Bandicoot before I reach for Skyrim.

The modern day game is focused around realism. It’s a really frustrating fact. Back in the day, a game could be about absolutely anything. It could consist of a Marmite monster travelling forwards in time to find a world conquered by Golden Syrup and is tasked with freeing the world from the tyrannical pancake beast. But today, the ideas bucket appears to be running dry and most developers run to first person shooters for their yearly income.

The day we give up on achieving ultimate realism is the day gaming starts becoming fun again. Health meters are one of the biggest casualties in gaming and I think the industry is weaker because of it. Sure, it’s not realistic to be able to put a number next to how injured you are, or to gaffer tape a medikit to your face and be all right again, but it beats the hell out of sitting behind a brick wall for a few minutes waiting for the blood to disappear from your screen.

I mentioned a while ago that Painkiller was one of my favourite shooters of all time which is still true. It’s a fun, fast paced, flowing, free for all that doesn’t let a little think like realism get in the way of having a good time. Sure, the story was absolute rubbish but the game play more than made up for it. The enemies were interesting and varied and there were endless different ways to kill them all. The shot gun was extremely satisfying and sent monsters flying half way across the map with a single shell, there was a gun that fired logs at enemies attaching them to walls, trees or whatever else was around and a gun that shot shurikens and lightning.

What does Call of Duty have to compare? More realistic guns, I would concede, but are they fun to use? Ducking in and out of cover, firing at anything firing back isn’t my idea of a good time, especially when, in some cases, you can’t tell if an enemy is dead until your face has been replaced with lead. Spec Ops is the only game that is an exception and that’s only because of the storyline. It doesn’t change the fact that the game play is uninspiring and uninteresting.

Even RPGs have evolved. I’ve played Oblivion recently and Dragon Age Origins and was disappointed with both. It’s a bad sign when I have to use the developers console in order to complete a game, which I had to do for DoA. I did this for Oblivion too, but not even cheating could save it. I found it boring, bland and unimersive. What kind of world do we live in when we’ve even made fantasy games dull? The combat wasn’t visceral enough, it felt like I was swinging my sword through thin air even when the enemy was two inches away and it had a habit of shoving you into an area and not telling you anything. Plus the conversation system was a load of rubbish that took me out of the game every time I had to use it.

Dragon Age was just generic, however the story line was enthralling enough that I had to keep playing it to the end, with likeable characters, solid story telling and well written conversation, I just didn’t want to have to deal with the combat so ended up cheating.

Compare it to games like Planetscape: Torment. Roughly 99.9% of people reading this would have just said, “Huh? What’s that? You’re just making up games now.” Planetscape is possibly the most underrated RPG in the history of gaming. It’s narrative is outstanding and compelling and, while combat trips over it’s laces and impales itself on its sword, the back story behind the characters, the games pacing and originality are what set it apart. You get experience based on your conversation techniques. Persuading an NPC to see things from your point of grants far more xp than smashing his head in with crowbar.

Bringing this rant disguised as a blog back on topic, modern day games have failed to hold my interest because they’re crap. Realism is boring! When will developers realise this? I play games to get away from real life. To enter new worlds, meet new people. To BE someone else. The less realistic the better as far as I’m concerned.

I long for the day we give up on ultimate realism and return our focus to making games FUN.

The Walking Dead Review

I never really understood the appeal of Zombies. I get that the dead returning to unlife is scary and if it happened in real life I’m sure I would find myself sat in the corner softly whining, leaving all the big tough men to deal with the problem. But I’ve never been afraid of them in video games.

I loved the original Dead Rising and even found the second one to be a bundle of laughs. Maybe that’s the problem. It’s hard to be scared of something when you’ve clocked over a hundred hours killing them with chainsaws. However, I have discovered an exception to that rule.

 

The Walking Dead is developed by TellTale games, famous for such enjoyable funfests as the rebooted Sam & Max series. It’s based on a series of comic books I’ve never read, in the same world as a TV series I’ve never seen, so I can honestly say I went into the game as an every man. I failed to see how a company that’s become popular with adventure games could make a Zombie game truly scary. And yet, they succeeded.

You begin the game as Lee, a convict being taken from one prison to another. The nature of his crime appears vague at first, although you do find out the gory details as you play through the game. Suddenly, the cop escorting him crashes into a pedestrian crossing the road and swerves off the road.

Lee comes to, just about alive, and finds the cops body outside the car. Believing him to be dead, Lee takes his time inspecting the wreckage when, surprise surprise, the cop turns into a Zombie and tries to kill him. This is the first time I’ve been scared of Zombies in a loooong time. You to push yourself away and frantically scramble with a shotgun, left by the dead cop, trying to force some shells in it before the Zombie cop turns you into desert.

As you go through the game you’ll discover colourful characters, all with a back story, some more likeable than others and have to make choice based on the groups survival. More often than not, your choices will decide whether a character lives or dies.

This in itself may not sound like an outstanding basis for a game, but a lot of the time you are given just a few seconds to make your decision. Several times I was given a choice, picked one out of panic then face palmed a few scenes later.

The game subverts the common representation of a Zombie game, deciding, correctly, that the Zombies are scarier with the fewer you have to kill. In the first episode you barely kill ten enemies. When you compare that with Dead Rising, where there is an achievement for killing fifty thousand, it certainly increases the fear factor. Like I said, once you’ve killed enough Zombies to fill the entire grand canyon, it’s difficult to feel threatened by them.

The story is probably the stand out point of the game. The exact nature of the Zombies remains a mystery and there is absolutely no hint of biological warfare or a mutated disease, which is fantastic as far as I’m concerned. That approach has been done to death. Mysteries lose all their intrigue once you explain it.

The game play is where the game falls flat on its face, knocking a few teeth out. All the combat tends to be is mash the ‘Q’ button until you have a chance to shoot or stab the bogey, then press another button to do that. However, it works because of the fairly linear story and still has the option of failure, which is where a lot of mainstream games fail nowadays. Most titles are so scared of you missing anything that they hold your hand through the entire game which detracts from the experience.

The only other downside I can see, is that it’s one of the games that claims your choices have an outcome on events and while that’s true enough in the short term, by the end of the game every single player will be in just about the exact same situation with the exact same characters alive. This isn’t a bad thing per se, but it’s the fact it claims to the contrary that does. There’s nothing wrong with a linear story, despite what modern day games believe. In fact, in these occasions the story tends to be better.

In conclusion, the characters are likeable, the atmosphere is perfect and the choices, albeit almost pointless, are difficult enough that you feel like you need some time to think about it even while the game is screaming at you to make a quick decision. The game play can hardly be described as game play, but it’s the uniqueness of the storyline that will get you hooked. I shows you exactly what a survival horror game should be like. It’s panicky, scary and a struggle just to survive.

8/10 – A fantastic experience, let down slightly by a few lies here and there. Overall, it has more than enough charm to get you hooked. If you’re going to get a Zombie game let it be this one.

X-COM: Enemy Unknown Review

It’s getting increasingly difficult for me to continue doing these reviews, hence the six month hiatus from this site. For starters I’m poor and it usually comes down to me choosing whether to buy a video game or eat that week and not matter how good Mass Effect is, I can’t use it as nourishment. More’s the pity.

Another reason maybe that modern day games tend to be, let’s say, uninspiring. I’m not a fan of the Call of Duty games nor many others actually so it kind of makes sense that all the games I enjoy are old and it makes even more sense that the modern ones I enjoy tend to be remakes or rehashes of good games from yester-year.

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Such as, X-COM: Enemy Unknown, which is a reboot of the 1994 release of the same name, or the slightly different name judging by my research. It’s either UFO: Enemy Unknown, X-COM: UFO Defense or just plain X-COM: Enemy Unkown. I don’t know, give me a break, I was like, two years old when it was released.

The original was exactly that; original. It featured new mechanics never seen before or since, with a possible except of the old GOOD Syndicate game, which made it rather hard to classify at the time. To be honest, I’m finding it hard to classify now as well. Third person, turn based, shooter with base management and some air combat as well? Or TPTBSWBMAAC for short.

Interesting concept and one that I found curiously compelling. I like my real time strategy so a game that feels like its in real time but allows you to carefully calculate your next seven moves as if your playing a rather violent version of chess is right up my alley.
You are the commanding officer of the X-COM Project (Short for eXtraterrestial COMbat Unit) and are charged by all the world’s governments to sort out the mess that they’re too busy for, and yet threaten to pull funding for the smallest thing like a very curious episode of Dragon’s Den. Where are their own military forces? You’d have thought they could spare a few men to help out when the future of the human race is in the balance.

But I digress. You start out with a rag tag band of mewing schoolgirls and have to turn them into hardened veterans while defending the Earth’s populace from increasingly frustrating alien enemies. You receive distress calls from various countries around the world and are plonked into a small map with between ten and twenty enemies and don’t get to leave until they’re all dead. Should you fail, or simply ignore a country for too long, their panic rating will increase and if you allow it to get too high, that country’s government will pull its funding. It’s still possible to complete the game without some countries, but it becomes incredibly more difficult.

While going through this, your tasked to capture and interrogate enemies and try to discover why the aliens are here as you build up your base of operations, which is possibly the most important aspect of the game. The aliens will keep on evolving, so if you get a few research projects behind, you’ll discover that the difficulty curve suddenly resembles a two hundred foot cliff face.

The actual combat involves you moving around your units into strategic positions and adequate cover and taking shots at the enemies while they try and do the same to you. Your shots have a percentage to hit and there is nothing that will increase the chance of your keyboard getting smashed more that your sniper missing a ninety nine percent hit chance. On the other hand, there is nothing that will make you smugger than ripping apart a squad of aliens in a single turn, especially if you kill an alien with a twenty percent hit chance along the way.

There is a lot going on in the game and this review has barely hit on a handful of them. The biggest thing I’ve missed out is the air combat, mainly because there isn’t any in this version. Sure, there pretends to be. You build up a few jets to take down UFOs but all you do is watch your plane shoot at the enemy while giving it a few buffs if things look hairy. Not that I ever needed to use any buffs as you don’t really need to bother with UFOs until towards the game and by then I had the best ship avaible and was killing every type of enemy craft with one or two shots.

X-COM is one of the games where I will happily be playing it for what I think is an hour or two, then decide to get a drink or a bite to eat and discover that it’s nearly four in the morning. It’s an extremely immersive game and I even found myself getting attached to the generic soldiers you get given.

If you haven’t already played it, which let’s face it, you probably have as I am about a year and a half late to the party, then I can’t recommend it highly enough.

9/10 – I’m removing a point because of the stupid bug that spawns a group of enemies right onto your squad AND gives them a free turn. I lost two squads because of it. I have never raged harder. (It’s worth noting that this has since been fixed…so they say.)