UFO Enemy Unknown
Jason Compton

An equally appropriate title for this game would have been "Laser Squad Goes To Roswell." A production by some of the same people who brought the 80s 8-bit and Amiga classic Laser Squad to life, UFO is a strategic combat and planning game which pits you, the director of a secret anti-UFO multinational organization, against the combined forces of aliens who are bent on converting, subverting, and annihiliating the population of Earth.

A game that is as many things as UFO is sometimes is best described with some very up front and direct assessments.

-UFO is not for the impatient.
-UFO is not for those who cringe when they hear the word "strategy" (or at the very least, not for those who cringe with good reason, rather than simply not having ever given it a try.)
-UFO is not non-stop action and alien blasting fun--although there's plenty of that.

To really enjoy UFO takes patience and dedication. It's not an easy job you've been handed. Not only are the aliens rather better equipped than you are to start with, but they typically have the strategic advantage over you at the beginning of the game. Until your surveillance equipment blankets the Earth, you're likely to only hear about an alien in Earth's skies until they've attacked a city--and then they're holding the ground.

UFO takes place in two major modes. One is the "planning and waiting" mode, which gives you access to a map of the world and the ability to create, maintain, and upgrade your UFO X-Com facilities. (You're in charge of X-Com.) At first, your budget is a major constraint, but nonetheless you have to hire personnel and build rooms that will make your job easier.

The other is the strategic combat mode. This is where the game shows its Laser Squad roots, although the old engine has had some polishing up. You command a squad of specially trained soldiers in a 3D-isometric map, often on search-destroy-capture missions. The 3D view, while prettier than Laser Squad and offering such amenities as line-of-sight, multiple heights, the ability to kneel and take cover, is overall more difficult than the old LS interface simply because getting a clear shot can be much tougher with everything taken into account. I found myself getting wasted early and often.

As the game progresses, you learn more about the aliens and alien technology. There's a sort of storyline running through the game, although of course at first you're just focusing on your own survival while trying to do your job well enough to keep the money rolling in.

I honestly wish I was better at planning strategic combat. I still get pasted by my friends in Laser Squad, and the computer-controlled aliens in UFO have a field day with me most of the time--although I do get lucky sometimes. UFO is going to require that you be better than me to get the fullest out of the game.

Guildhall's republished version comes on a few floppies with a printed manual (black and white rather than the color of Microprose's original manual, but otherwise identical.) The game has absolutely terrific atmosphere--the graphics and music are chilling and disturbing, exactly what they should be for such a game. A fast machine will come in handy for the game although you can get by with an 020. Guildhall is republishing both AGA and ECS versions of the game.

UFO is not particularly graphics-board compatible but is 060 compatible. The game is HD installable and runs from the WB. Documentation protection exists, and you're provided with a manual just like Microprose's, but in black and white only.

Note: Microprose made two additional X-Com games for the PC, one focusing on underwater lifeforms, and the latest, Apocalypse, dealing with all of humanity crammed into one last mega-city which you have to defend from aliens. Given that having all of humanity crammed into a single city is a pretty crappy way to live anyway, I think X-Com Apocalypse makes playing UFO Enemy Unknown a real downer--why bother defending the planet if that's how the X-Com universe ends up anyway? I really hate sequels sometimes...

Budget re-released by:

Guildhall Leisure (Acid Software)
Unit 15
Guildhall Industrial Estate
Kirk Sandall
South Yorkshire

++44 1302 890000 voice
++44 1302 890010 fax
guildhall@glsukok.demon.co.uk e-mail

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