Yo. And... What up. Dawgs? Maybe. Ebonics aside, this is an EldritchEvil report and, as such, lacks an appropriate beginning. Maybe somebody will tell the guy he needs to get his act together.
I've decided to take Battlereporting in a new and more community-friendly direction with this report series on UFO Defense: X-COM. XCOM is a game that was published in Europe by the game company Microprose, famous for games like Master of Orion, and other classics. It gained considerable popularity across the pond, even getting ported to North America and being well received here, as well. In order for you to understand what I mean by "community-friendly" you need to grasp something about XCOM.
For the record, XCOM can be found for free on the internet, with two ways of playing it: one, by getting the original DOS version and using DosBox; or two, grabbing the windows version and applying a fan-made patch. Keep in mind, the game is abandonware, so fear not.
Right: XCOM. XCOM has two "modes" of play: the real time resource management and base building mode, and the turn-based combat mode. The Geoscape, as the base-building mode is called, runs at several speeds (5 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 1 day) that you can adjust to allow for micromanagement, or to allow for no boring delays. The Battlescape, the other mode, is a turn-based squad combat game on a 2d map made of squares. Simple, yet elegant.
The story of the game is that aliens are causing problems on Earth, and a secret meeting in a secret place in Geneva, Switzerland has created: X-COM, the Extraterrestrial Defense Force, a secret organization of elite soldiers, scientists, engineers, spies and cleaning staff.
Now we come to the community. It is my plan to name my soldiers after battlereports.com persons. To sign up for service in X-COM, post a comment expressing your interest. You start with eight soldiers at your Base, and I will name the three with best stats after selected personalities, and one after a character of my own, to provide a basis for the fictional part of these reports. The other four will be Cannon Fodder, or CF classified soldiers. They will take enemy fire for our heroes, bravely dying to Plasma fire. Please note that X-COM is hard. Very, very hard. The first difficulty can be a bit of a cakewalk up until you hit Mutons, at which point it becomes hard. The second difficulty is challenging. Anything above that is suicide. I will play this game on Experienced difficulty, the challenging one. Hopefully, we won't take many battlereports.com casualties once we get armor.
To avoid turning this introduction into a monstrosity even more fearsome than it already is, I will provide information on the aliens we fight, the technology we research, our guns, and, indeed, the game itself, as the situations arise. Now, gentlemen, sit back, and watch the story unfold...
Kevin looked nervous. Possibly this was because men in dark suits had arrived at his suburban home, thrown him into two weeks of intense training, tossed him aboard a transport ship -- lovingly named the Skyranger-1 -- and sent him off to fight the alien menace. Whatever alien menace that was. Perhaps, though, it was because of his fellow soldiers, although calling them that did the word a disservice. Four of them were loud, ugly and generally undesirable brutes who Kevin mentally classified as Highschool Bullies. The three others were more unique, and as such, deserve description: a small, thin man who constantly fidgeted with his hands called himself Ender's Shadow, which was then shortened to just Enders. Another was a physically unremarkable man in a white coat, who smoked constantly and had shifty eyes. He called himself Lithium, after a rare element. The third soldier was a tall, heavyset man, who spoke little. He called himself Four.
Kevin was just Kevin. And he was nervous. Because he was going to fight aliens, and these people were going with him.
I fire up XCOM and start a new game. You start the game with having to make the decision of Where to Put Your Base. This is a fairly important decision. Since you're being funded by the more miserly nations of the world, it's important that you keep on their good side, or risk having your funding lowered. As such, it's best to place your base in such a way that it can cover a large area of funding nations. Conventional wisdom dictates that you choose either North America or eastern Europe. Since having a base in America would mean that our soldiers would have to deal with Mexicans, we'll go to Europe.
Keep in mind, folks, that all the screenshots of this game will be actual size, unless I have to make them bigger. 320x320 resolution is where it's at. Moving on: with our base firmly established in eastern Europe, we should take some time to detail the planetside half of the Geoscape. Menu on the right, with time options under it, and under that are view rotators. When a UFO is detected by your radar, you send out a plane to intercept it, which means follow it until it lands or you run out of fuel, or try to shoot it down.
When a UFO lands or is shot down, you send out a transport, like the Skyranger. Inside this transport are soldiers, possibly Heavy Weapons Platforms and of course all your equipment, like guns, ammo, flares, explosives, armor, medikits, etc. When the transport arrives at the UFO, you engage in a mission to try to recover it, by killing or incapacitating all the aliens, and getting inside the UFO to see its engines (should they still be intact) and take their fuel, Elerium 115, and other useful artifacts. Other possible Geoscape happenings are Terror missions, where a large number of aliens land in a densely populated urban environment and start murdering civilians. You gotta react fast and deal with these every time, even if it is at night. Although you don't have to pay for blowing up buildings, streets, gardens, etc. you do have to pay for the killing of civilians, especially if YOU do it, although an alien doing it hurts you, too.
There are also Alien Bases, which you have to find by patrolling over likely spots. Those contain a whole LOT of aliens, on their home turf, and it is very dangerous. They must be taken out posthaste.
Base established, I click on the "Bases" button on the sidebar.
As you can see, I named the main base .php, to annoy all the elitists on /forum. Under the name is the area it controls/protects, Europe, and how much cash I have on hand -- four million USD. Which seems a bit stingy, considering that XCOM is the only thing stopping the earth from being overrun by the alien menace. Oh well. Under that is the fast-toggle bar between bases, and then, menu options. On the left is the physical base itself. I have three hangars -- the large buildings that make up the corners of the triangle. The top one contains a Skyranger class transport ship, and the bottom two Interceptor class fighters. The middle contains an access lift, living quarters, general stores, a radar system, and laboratory, and a workshop. Time to start whipping this base into shape. I start construction on another laboratory, another living quarters, an alien containment, a large radar system, and another general stores. The laboratory will allow me to put more Scientists to work, the living quarters, more men. The alien containment will let me keep alien prisoners to research, and the large radar system will give me a wider range of UFO detection. The general stores give me more space for loot. Finally, I tell the scientists in our base to begin researching Laser Weapons. I plan to get Laser Weapons, Laser Pistols, Alien Alloys, Personal Armor, Medikits, and then Laser Rifles as the first things to research. Laser pistols are a good deal weaker than rifles, but armor is necessary to keep soldiers alive.
With the construction of buildings out of the way, I go to the purchase/recruit section, and begin to recruit more men. Five more soldiers, five more scientists, five more engineers, fifteen electro-flares, a Rocket Tank (HWP) and 10 rockets for it are on the way, leaving me with three hundred thousand USD left. Whew! Expensive. With all that out of the way, I go to the soldiers menu, and pick out the Four Best Soldiers for naming.
This is the soldier status screen. Top left: rank icon (he is a rookie, at the moment, which means he has never shot at nor been shot at by an alien), and then his name. You may notice he has SS after his name. This is my way of classifying soldiers. Let's talk about that.
When outfitting soldiers before a mission, you have no way to see their stats. It's useful to classify them according to their strengths, so they can be outfitted appropriately.
SS stands for Sharp Shooter. These are soldiers with high Accuracy ratings, and decent TU (Time Unit) scores. Other good stats to have are Reactions, Strength and, of course, Bravery. Which Kevin has almost none of. Which should be okay, but, you never know...
Soldiers classified CF are Cannon Fodder. Meat shields. Worthless soldiers. Usually guys with super high bravery but absolutely nothing else. Soldiers classified G are Grunts. Decent stats in everything, these make up the core of your squad. SCs are Scouts, soldiers with a large amount of TUs, Stamina and Reactions. Accuracy is a plus. HWs are Heavy Weapons, soldiers with decent Accuracy, high Strength, and decent TUs. They lug about big guns like Autocannons.
Just so you know, Lithium_ got a G classification, Endersshadow got a HW, while Mark4 got slapped with a SS and has the best stats out of the whole group, overall. For the curious, here are their stats.