x-com3.gif - 10.6 K X-COM Apocalypse
Preview and Review by Al Giovetti
Genre: squad level combat
Release: 3/97
Developer: MicroProse Studio in Chipping Sodbury, England
Developer: Mythos Games Producers: Julian and Nick Gollop Publisher: Microprose in Hunt Valley, Maryland
Phone: 1-800-695-GAME, 619-693-1200
Website: www.microprose.com/gamesdesign/xcomap/xcomap.html
Requirements: 486 Dx, 33 MHz, DOS 5.0, 2X CD ROM drive, SVGA, 8 MB RAM, sound card
f_xcoma1.jpg - 20.8 K

Plot: Significant time has passed since X-Com Terror from the Deep. Humans felt safe from alien invasion, they develop complacency. In the year 2046, in the face of massive changes, the Earth builds massive cities underneath geodesic domes, called Megalopolises, and the population of the Earth moves into these domes to live, work, and play. Around the year 2070, things change again, this time the people of the earth seem to be succumbing to a rare madness. The megalopolises are struck by civil unrest, crime, and family breakdowns. When these events are investigated in 2084, it is found that the cause is another more subtle incursion of aliens, who have been taking over the minds of innocent citizens and through them taking control of key organizations and causing civil unrest.

The research tree has been set up to reveal the plot of the game which is intwined with the motivation of the aliens. As you discover more about the aliens, the more you will know about why and what they are doing.

Game play: The largest of the Megalopolis cities is MegaPrime, where the job of the largely depleted and financially ignored X-COM defense force, in 2084, is to investigate strange events in the city, determine which are caused by alien influence, and act quickly to eradicate them. After enjoying a measure of success the aliens see no purpose in continuing to act covertly, and they send ships to attack the city much as they had in the prior two X-COM games, resulting in real-time combat with X-COM craft above the city., with the result of squad level combat within the city when alien craft land and crash. Later in the game the aliens will invade in force with dimensional gates that will pull the X-COM teams into strange dimensional rifts to fight closer to the aliens new base of operations.

Combat: This time around alien operatives can choose turn-based or real-time combat. Giving the game player this choice is an immensely astute move on the part of the game designers. Most players and purchasers of game sequels expect and want the sequel to be like the original, but different enough to provide a new experience. Changing an aspect of a successful product like rounded or real-time combat, endangers the success of the sequel. But giving the game player the choice could lead to recruiting of others who do not like the rounded combat, while retaining the loyal customers who liked the rounded combat and therefore bought the first game. f_xcoma2.jpg - 14.2 K

Apocalypse adds many new skills, including interrogation skill, perceptive ability, biochemistry, quantum physics, forensics, engineering, sanity, driving skill, and flying skill. Another problem with the original game was the inability to move other than walk, turn, stand and run. In the new game the Silicon Graphics Incorporated rendered agents will be able to swim, crawl, jump, climb, and run in addition to the other movements.

X-COM bases are hidden below buildings throughout the city. Since each building will have its own dimensions, not every building will have the room for an entire base defense or research facility. Bases will have to be designed on an individual basis for custom purposes. The buildings will be much larger than any used in the prior games, with multiple floors, and basements. Aliens will also be different with some godzilla like megaspawn which need eradicating before they demolish the city like in the old game Crush, Crumble and Chomp.

X-COM vehicles can be equipped, like in the earlier games, with weapons, crew compartments, fast engines, and other components, save this time the craft will be travelling in the city. Battles between alien craft and X-COM crafts will cause damage to buildings and pedestrians which will cause tempers to flare and not always against the aliens.

Many people are concerned that the game will be too limited with only one city to play in. And while this seems true when one looks at the prior game play, the current game will have a level of city detail that will have many, many buildings, parks, organizations, and factions with a high level of detail. This level of detail is why the game is limited to one city. The entire world would just be too large, all things considered.

Research is divided into three arms including biological, mechanical, and quantum. A medical bay is required to heal injured troopers. Training areas and Psi-gyms will allow agents to improve their proficiencies.

Difficulty levels: Mega-Prime has five different plans depending upon the difficulty level that you choose. At the highest difficulty level, the city is huge. The largest city has criminal gangs, cults, the police, and various earth factions that are fighting each other. This unrest is exploited by the aliens making your job more difficult.

Graphics: The display and graphics are in 640x480 pixel resolution SVGA with much more detail and a larger viewing area than the previous offerings. Screens and graphics are more high tech and have higher detail than before with special shading and metal effects.

Utilities: A random scenario generator increases play value by generating an almost unlimited variety of missions. The random mission generator is combined with the scripted scenerios which follow the plot line. The combination of scripted and a random mission generator is, in my (humble opinion - IMHO - Ed) mind, the best of both worlds.

Multi-player: Multiplayer support is in the game.

Journalists: Glenn reports that there may not be turn based combat, just real time this time around. The Next Generation preview says characters will be able to swim.

Reader or Journalist, you can publish your review right here by sending us the text by email.

Next Generation, volume 2, June, 1996, pg. 92-93.
Scott Udel, Computer Games, number 77, April, 1997, pg. 30 - 34.
Glenn Broderick, volume 3, number 11, April, 1997, pg. 28.

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