The game retains the high replayablility factor of the classic games combined with updated graphics and smooth game play
It is nearly impossible to review UFO:Extraterrestrials without comparing it to the classic X:COM UFO Defense and it's nearly identical sequel X:COM Terror from the Deep games. These games created a niche in the market place that hasn't ever been equaled or surpassed not even by other X:COM franchise titles. UFO:ET comes the closest to matching the game play and feel of the original X:COM of any follower of these venerable games.
Every game needs a rocket launcher
The game has been in development since January 2002 by Chaos Concept in Czechoslovakia. The game is clearly a labor of love by the developers and it shows in the game. The artwork is carefully composed and well executed to create an atmosphere of eerie alienness in both the world, Esperanza, that the game is set in and with the increasing alien threat to the human settlers of the world. The back story is simple and direct but sets up reasons why this world would be threatened by alien incursions and how the government of Esperanza decides to deal with it. This is where you as the player step in.
The game, like the original X:COM games is divided into two major portions. The first is the global, or Geoscape in X:COM terms, view of the entire world. In this view you are able to construct bases, and monitor the globe for alien activity. There are also links to the familiar UFOPedia, and to base management. Drilling down to the base management screens you are able to view your soldiers, equip your fighter and transport aircraft, manage laboratory researches, and manufacture new items that your scientists have discovered in your workshops. You are also able to modify your bases by adding additional modules.
This part of the game shows the most major difference from X:COM game play. The geoscape, and base management portions of the game have been greatly simplified. You are only allowed to have one main base where you do your research and workshop activities as well as launch all your tactical missions from. While you may construct bases in other locations on Esperanza you may only build hangers and base defenses there. You can locate fighter aircraft in these bases but are unable to even build living quarters or any of the specialized modules that are only allowed in your main base. Base management as been further simplified by removing the requirement that you track storage space, living space and the number of soldiers, scientists and technicians on the base. Each laboratory or workshop that you build in your main base provides 10 additional scientists or technicians. Each soldier arrives as they are trained and sent by the government of Esperanza. The player has no insight into when soldiers will arrive and can not request more as needed. This can be a problem if all your soldiers become wounded or killed leaving the player with few options to continue fighting the alien invaders. Funding is the primary problem in this portion of the game - craft returning to your base appear to automatically rearm which drains funds from your account each time. It appears to be automatically reordering items (or perhaps fuel) instead of requiring the player to manually manage the base supplies. While I would prefer to manage those actions myself other players may find it convenient for the game to take care of those details for them. You are also allowed to run a deficit in some areas, when your funds drop below zero research and manufacturing activities are placed on hold but you can continue to attack UFOs as they are detected and your ships will continue to rearm and refuel when they return to base increasing your deficit. Once you are able to increase your available funds back above zero, by either receiving monthly funding from the government or by selling captured or surplus equipment the research and manufacturing processes begin again.
Send in the troups
The view from above
The second part of the game is where UFO:ET is at it's best. The game remembers the load out of each soldier from previous missions which greatly speeds up deployment of your squads. Another innovation is that when the player sends the transport aircraft to respond to a mission you are immediately taken to the squad load out screen allowing you to make any last minute changes to the equipment and weapons that you will bring with you. The opening seconds of tactical combat recall the same feelings from X:COM of pounding down the ramp of your aircraft hoping to secure the area immediately around you so that you can begin operations. As combat continues it becomes clear that the developers of UFO:ET spent a great deal of time creating very alien aliens as well as creating a reasonable hierarchy of aliens. The aliens have different specializations and tend to work in groups unlike original X:COM games where you would get a whole ship of one type of alien - in UFO:ET they effectively use combined arms with some aliens sniping from a distance while others use their psychic attacks before closing in to hand to hand combat. Players are rewarded for using similar combined arms tactics and for effectively using cover and terrain to their advantage. Usually, soldiers are not lost in a battle unless you are forced to withdraw from the field leaving them behind - but instead once they are reduced to no health they fall insensible to the ground dropping all their inventory. If the combat is won they are returned to the primary base where they enter the hospital until they are fully healed. Until they are healed they are unavailable for any further combat missions. The biggest drawback to tactical combat is the lack of an overhead map which would aid tactical planning for the player - instead one is forced to scroll around the screen to attempt a tactical overview of the battle field.
Scouring the office space
Overall the game is well done and will be very much enjoyed by fans of the classic X:COM games and anyone who enjoys tactical combats. The game retains the high replayablility factor of the classic games combined with updated graphics and smooth game play. Chaos Concepts would have been well served to have their final text reviewed by a native English speaker for both the UFOPedia entries and the opening credits movie. While there are no Zero Wing level mistranslations there are enough odd phrasings and miss-used words to show that the development was not in English. Some will be frustrated by watching funding disappear in the geoscape and by the inability to hire new solders as needed as well as the omission of a tactical map. Overlooking these flaws will reward the player with a fun tactical combat game wrapped with strategy elements.
Top Gaming Moment:The first tactical mission that I attempted to do "cowboy style" within seven rounds all four squad dies and my combat vehicle were wiped out, but I learned my lesson careful tactics result in surviving the mission.
TOP GAME MOMENT
The first tactical mission that I attempted to do “cowboy style” within seven rounds all four squad dies and my combat vehicle were wiped out, but I learned my lesson careful tactics result in surviving the mission.