UFO: Enemy Unknown

UFO: Enemy Unknown (1995)

  • Gamepage
  • Developer: Microprose
  • Publisher: Microprose

The very first game in the X-COM series (it was known as X-COM: UFO Defense in North America), this deep and involving turn-based strategy title is widely considered to be one of the best games ever released - on the PC. On the PlayStation, its gameplay was no less appealing, but the requirement for an entire memory card just to save games in Battlescape mode made it into an unpopular prospect for most gamers.

Of course, that's no longer a concern, since both the PS3 and PSP employ virtual memory cards; in fact, the PlayStation version of the game may well be your best bet at playing Enemy Unknown these days, given the difficulty of getting older games to work on modern PCs. It's unquestionably a game worth returning to; the combination of tactical and strategic elements, which saw you managing the X-COM organisation as a whole as well as taking your troops into turn-based battles was very compelling, and has been often copied.

The game also managed, despite its dated graphics, to create a genuinely tense, creepy atmosphere. Several innovations contributed both to building atmosphere and to making the gameplay interesting - including a clever line of sight system and the use of night-time battles, both of which made the player keenly aware of the fragility of his lightly armoured troops. Those who played X-COM back in 1995 all have vivid memories of long nights spent with the game; arguably the most surprising thing about it is how little of its impact has been lost in the intervening 12 years.

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Rob Fahey

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