|Always a risk, keeping soldiers this close together|
The battle on the surface of Mars is just the prelude, and involves a scattered selection of Sectoids. They've never been the most fearsome of aliens, and now that I've got a squad of my strongest Psychic soldiers they pose even less of a threat. Since I have no need for their technology at this stage, I decide to use a few Blaster bombs, and level a few of the pyramid buildings.
|A bit more spread out here, searching through these pyramid structures|
Even though I have them outnumbered and out-gunned (thanks in part to my two hovertanks), I still manage to lose one soldier. A lucky snipers shot in the darkness hit one of my less well armoured troops in the head, and there was nothing I could do to save him. There is no time for grief though, our entire planet is at stake! I responded, almost casually, with a blaster bomb and obliterated the sniper and the surrounding area.
|I think I hit it...|
With the surface clear, it was time for the final base assault. The layout was familiar, we had cleared several bases like this on Earth, but this time we were looking for something different: The command centre that was in charge of the invasion of our planet.
Slowly spreading my soldiers out amongst dark, forbidding passageways, I saw new enemies, mixed with old. The base was filled with Etherials, creatures of immense psychic energy. Their minions were creatures that terrorized Earth's cities, including a new one that appeared to be some sort of bipedal robot.
|The mechanical creature is shown on the right, below the flames|
Progress was slow, punctuated by brief moments of plasma fire and the occasional massive explosion. Just as I was about to lament this entire phase of the game for lacking any sort of challenge, I got on the receiving end of a blaster bomb. Even with my soldiers well armed and armoured, the massive force of the blaster bomb killed three of my men immediately, and injured two others.
With renewed fervour, my remaining soldiers swept the base for alien soldiers and their hideous and terrible creatures. None would be left alive, this was to be an extermination. With the main floor of the alien base completely clear, there was only one place left for the aliens to hide. Up two single-person-sized alien elevators, I find the command centre and my final goal.
|Better safe than sorry, I started to destroy large areas|
My first soldier is greeted by a group of Etherials, and a pulsating sphere. The command centre seems to be run by some sort of large fleshy mass, like a brain suspended in a jar. Their defences are breached, and a blaster bomb clears the room of Etherials, leaving a clear shot to the brain.
|The brain thing, and it's guards|
After a brief attempt to bargain for it's life, and a quick burst of plasma fire, the brain is destroyed. The Alien menace has been averted, and Earth is safe - for now.
So that completes this journey through the 1994 classic UFO: Enemy Unknown, and it's been fun. The basic formula of the game is still engaging even after all this time, building up Earth's defence forces until you can strike back.
This was a big moment in turn-based gaming for me, where previously I'd only had experience with a little bit of RPG combat or similar. A vast difference from arcade or action-based combat systems, a turn based approach really suited my preferred style of play. I guess that's why I generally play adventure games and cRPGs, where the challenges are rarely about player's reactions.
I played but never completed the two following games, Terror from the Deep and Apocalypse. They never quite lived up to my expectations for the series, although I feel like I should give Apocalypse a second chance one of these days. After that, I gave up on the series for it's deviations to space flight and third-person shooter, but it appears to have made a triumphant return with the reboot.
I'll be taking a little detour here towards Dishonored, but I will get back to XCOM at some point, and we'll see how well it lives up to it's ancestor!