Also available on PlayStation, Amiga, Amiga CD32, and MS-DOS
X-COM: UFO Defense - or, as it was called in Europe with WAY better box art, UFO: Enemy Unknown - is the first game in the prolific XCOM strategy series. Release nearly a quarter century ago, the game has a lot of the quality of life issues that turn a lot of people off from MS-DOS games these days. Fortunately there's a fix for this in OpenXcom (and the further improved OpenXcom Enhanced +) that not only improves a lot of the quality of life issues that will turn off modern gamers but fixes a number of bugs and allows for relatively easy modding.
The core of X-COM involves maintaining a base and small military force with which you try to repel the alien invasion of Earth. While you're fighting off the alien menace, you have to investigate the aliens and where they're coming from and, ultimately, devise a way to stop them at the source. There are five difficulties in the game (and some of the mods tweak settings that make the game a little more approachable), and while the game still shows its age with the mechanics in a lot of ways, it's a very approachable game if you play it on the first or second difficulty and go into it with a little bit of patience. Even on easier difficulties, the game gets really tough at the end especially considering how heavily it relies on RNG mechanics, but it's extraordinarily addicting.
The visuals certain have the blocky MS-DOS look, but the pixels are pretty sharp when you set the resolution to a higher setting although I would advise not setting it to full screen; even setting is to 1920x1080, when it set it to full screen, it was mostly black with a TINY little box of the actual game screen. The sound effects and music can get repetitive, but they're generally pretty enjoyable. The biggest problem with the game is that it can be a little hard to tell what's environment and what's an alien in certain situations, but that's mostly remedied as the cursor turns from red to flashing red and yellow when you're over an alien or one of your soldiers.
Your soldiers do get more powerful as you play and gain stat points, but don't get too attached to any one soldier; whenever a shot actually hits its target, it does between 0% and 200% damage determined by RNG, so you'll end up with situations where a really strong weapon does nothing to an enemy but a weak enemy kills your strongest dude in one shot. Armor helps, but if that RNG comes up with 200% on a shot fired by an alien at one of your guys, it'll let you absorb one shot at most. There's a lot of frustration involved with this, but even at the most frustrating points, the fun always overpowers it.
X-COM: UFO Defense (or UFO: Enemy Unknown if you're in PALand) is definitely a game that shows its age, but if you have the patience to figure out the archaic menus and rough-around-the-edges presentation, there's an extremely fun and addicting game underneath. The story and lore, while fairly generic sci-fi in a lot of ways, are really interesting if you research various alien corpses that you get during your missions and find out about the different species and alien weapons. It's not a game for everyone, and its age makes it a lot less approachable than the more modern XCOM games, but if you like sci-fi and/or strategy games, I absolutely recommend it.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.