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Game Zone: X-Com: UFO Defense

by Alessandro Ebersol (Agent Smith)

Folks, where has the world gone? After all that we have been going through in the last few years, we are now having a wave of UFO sightings. Yes, unidentified objects are popping up everywhere, and if they are just Chinese balloons, we are fine. BUT what if they are not? If the aliens are really visiting us and preparing an invasion ?

Well, to prepare for the aliens' arrival, nothing better than playing X-Com: UFO Defense, a strategy game by Microprose, released in 1994.

Aliens Attack!

X -COM: UFO Defense (known as UFO: Enemy Unknown in Europe) is a 1994 science fiction strategy video game developed by Mythos Games. It was published by MicroProse for DOS and Amiga computers, the Amiga CD32 console, and the PlayStation.

Originally planned by Julian Gollop as a sequel to 1988's Laser Squad, the game mixes real-time management simulation with turn-based tactics. The player assumes the role of the commander of X-COM - an international paramilitary organization that secretly defends Earth from an alien invasion. Throughout the game, the player is tasked with issuing orders to individual X-COM troops in a series of turn-based tactical missions. On a strategic scale, the player directs research and development of new technologies, builds and expands X-COM bases, manages the organization's finances and personnel, and monitors and responds to UFO activity.

The game received strong reviews and achieved commercial success, acquiring a cult following among strategy fans; several publications listed X-COM: UFO Defense as one of the best video games ever made, including IGN ranking it as the best PC game of all time in 2007. It was the first and best entry in the X-COM series and directly inspired several similar games, including UFO: Alien Invasion, UFO: Extraterrestrials and Xenonauts. An official remake of the game, X-COM: Enemy Unknown, was created by Firaxis Games and published by 2K Games in 2012. Mythos Games' and Julian Gollop's own original spiritual successor project, The Dreamland Chronicles: Freedom Ridge, was canceled in 2001 and then partially transformed into UFO: Aftermath by another developer. Gollop's new X-COM project, Phoenix Point, was released in 2019.

The story of X-Com : UFO Defense, for those who don't know...

The story of X-COM, set in the near future, at the time of the game's release, begins in the year 1998. The initial plot centers on increasing reports of UFO sightings, as reports of abductions and rumors of attacks by mysterious aliens become widespread, much the way it is happening now... Is life imitating fiction ?

The nations of the world come to perceive this as a threat, and try to form their own forces - such as Japan's Kiryu-Kai force - to deal with the crisis, but these efforts are not successful. On December 11, 1998, representatives of some of the world's most powerful nations met secretly in Geneva to discuss the issue. From this meeting is born the clandestine defense and research organization Extraterrestrial Comb

At first, the player will only have access to conventional weapons, but as the game progresses, the player learns more about the enemy, their species, mutant creations, and technology. In the end, it is revealed that the "leaders" behind the alien invasion are a race known as Ethereals who possess powerful mind-control abilities and enslave other alien races to carry out their plans, and that their main base in the Solar System is located in the Cydonia region on Mars. The player must then prepare the final assault team, attack Cydonia, and destroy the mastermind behind the alien invasion, the Alien Brain biocomputer.

The game can end in several ways. If the player's performance is poor or worse for two consecutive months, the player runs a deep deficit for two consecutive months, all the player's bases are captured, or the player mounts an assault on the alien Mars base and loses, the game ends in defeat, where in the PlayStation version, the nations funding council makes a futile attempt to negotiate with the aliens, who violently murder the negotiator. While in the MS-DOS version, the funding nations sign pacts with the aliens promising peace, but instead destroy every city and poison the water and air to destroy any resistance, the remaining survivors are placed in slave camps to help terraform Earth for future alien colonization. If, however, the player is victorious in the final attack, the game ends with the victory of humanit


Well, I am a huge fan of this game, and when I saw that there was a community made version, I wasted no time in bringing it to our repositories.

I used to stay up all night defending the earth against the aliens, and it was a great game. As described above, it has two phases: A managerial strategy phase, where the player manages the X-Com bases around the world, and, because of this, many factors must be taken into consideration: where to establish the bases, how many quarters to make per base, how many scientists to hire, how many soldiers to recruit. And, of course, always invest in better equipment, both for the soldiers and for the bases, which have aircraft capable of shooting down attacking UFOs.

The difficulty goes from very easy to the super human level. At this level, the aliens are invincible and attack incessantly. It is quite a challenge.

Its second phase is turn-based combat, like a good war game, where the player must lead his squadron to the wreckage of downed alien ships, or, in more advanced levels, alien bases on earth, and, in the end, on Mars.

It is necessary to be very careful with your squadrons, as your soldiers are upgraded throughout the game, and losing them is costly, as they cannot be resurrected. Dead soldiers must be replaced by new recruits with minimal skills.

Of course, playing for so long, you eventually get tired of it and get a stat editor for your soldiers, increasing their powers much faster than playing normally, but it is a way to balance the game's relentless AI.

How to play on PCLinuxOS

To play Openxcom on PCLinuxOS, you must have a copy of the original DOS game, X-COM: UFO Defense.

Install openxcom, via terminal or Synaptic.

Run the program for the first time, it will create an .openxcom folder in your /home directory. Note the "." at the beginning of the folder name. This will make it a hidden directory on your computer.

From there you should copy any X-com game you have into a subfolder inside the .openxcom folder.

For the first game, you should have a subfolder called UFO, in capital letters. For the second game, a folder called TFTD, in uppercase as well. In these folders, as described above, the respective games should be copied.

After that, just click on openxcom in the program menu and start the battle against the aliens!

So, a game that mixes 50's fiction movies with managerial strategy, it's not every day that it appears.

I hope you enjoyed it, and happy gaming!

P.S. If you don't have the original games, they can be bought cheap from GOG

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