Usually stuff like XcomUtil, it's all on that UFOpeadia, if it isn't, then it's really not worth worrying about.
The difficulty bug you refer to is the fact that despite what difficulty you select at the start, it makes NO Difference in the vanilla game, as it's all the same difficulty (This is about the worst bug that you're likely to encounter outside of larger agents getting stuck in small buildings.
Would you kindly not read this signature?
SPV Guild - Farting about since 1998
A far greater sin was making it far too easy to screw up a movement by not requiring a second click in movement. As it stands it's easy to accidentally have the mouse snap to another grid square and have your guy go cheerfully walking away from cover and into the open. That was a genuinely bad piece of UI design, because the rigid grid makes it very easy to have accidents like that. It's exacerbated today with fast mouse movement unless you slow the game down in DOSBOX quite a bit.
OP: Get the original. It's cheap, there's an abundance of information about it to get you started, and it's a classic. I wouldn't bother with Terror From the Deep, because it artificially ramped the difficulty right up by making everything take a thousand hits to kill and flooding the place with aliens.
Xenonauts will be closer to the old XCOM than the new XCOM, but that means some arbitrary things like time units and soldier stat progression are done just because the old XCOM did that, not because there's any real justification for it. For a purist like me, that's cool, but if you don't like the original XCOM mechanics it's not worth getting.
The new XCOM takes a different path, so the die-hard purists will bitch about changes like removing time units and stats progression and multiple bases (I wish we had multiple bases!) but by all accounts it keeps the asymmetrical warfare component and uphill struggle which is the hallmark of the series, as well as the tense battles. It just has different combat mechanics, and some changes help with the flow and might help prevent that endless hunt for the last alien hiding away that you spend the next 50 turns looking for.
Also, read the manual.
I just listened to the Three Moves Ahead podcast, and at one point the panelists hit on something that I think marks the key difference between the way the original plays and the way the remake will play, and it relates to decision making. In the original, one has a broad, fluid decision set. The game starts and you are shown the globe and asked to place your first base. It can go anywhere you like- literally any pixel of land can be selected. In combat, you have usually 10+ troops available, and without a cover system the range of places they might sensibly be moved to is very high, especially with the flexible time point system of action. Equipping involves selecting items to place in the hands, on the belt, on each leg. Soldiers have a dozen different stats which increase gradually with use. Your success in the game is the aggregate of many smaller decisions, over which you have a lot of control, although it can be tricky to parse out the effect of individual decisions precisely.
The newer one makes decisions far more granular, with far more clearly defined consequences. You build your base by picking a country, each of which gives you a bonus. Combat has 4 to 6 units, who now need to be in cover all the time. Combined with soldier abilities this gives you a series of discrete choices as to which cover you move to, which action you take after your move. You equip your soldiers by picking a weapon, sidearm, armour and single piece of gear from a menu. You even get mutually exclusive missions presented, with rewards and consequences. You make your decisions from a smaller available set, with the effects being clear, but also hugely significant, and you should often find yourself going back and forth as to what to do with many of them.
As an aside, I think the influence of Sid Meier is clear- he's the 'interesting decisions' guy. The lead designer, Jake Solomon, worked directly for Meier for most of a decade, and considers himself something of a disciple. We end up with a game that I think will derive much of its tension from having to make constant decisions with large consequences, and frequently having to work out the risk/reward from those decisions.
No value judgments intended in the above . Both approaches are capable of producing very compelling games. I love the original and I'm very excited about the remake.
Vinraith, I think Wizardry's advice is good. I think concerns about the clunkiness are perfectly valid, but often overstated. In particular, the strategic side has lots of well labelled menus leading to screens with obvious functions. You'll spend a little while poking around the base menus in particular, you'll build a few things, start some research, buy some stuff, and then you'll be off. In the tactical screen the issues come from having to learn the button icons and accidentally moving a soldier while trying to select another. Not quite knowing what to do or what to expect is in large part by design. We all fell in love with the game learning to play it.
Last edited by arathain; 06-10-2012 at 01:27 AM.
UFOextender (the latest version is April 2012 afaik). Get the higher quality music tracks (read .ini of UFOextender). Important things to turn on in the .ini (if they aren't already on): more smoke, auto sell (it'll make your life 1000 times easier). There are many more that you'll like to check once you've got the hang of the basics. Good alien hunting!
You can only understand why it is so good in the first place by playing the original instead of trying the butchered remake. It changes too much that I fear the remake don't have that magic from the original like what happened to Deus Ex HR.
XCOMUtil is essential as it fix a few UI issues (you can set double click for movement, auto sell etc) but other than that you're good to go
I've been playing the old game for the last week on and off and had a great time. It approaches things in a way that just isn't seen very often these days. The UI isn't the best but nothing you can't overcome. The original is available for just $1.25 now in NA (not sure where the angry dome is).
If you can get it for that, I'd humbly submit that you'd be as mad as a box of frogs to choose not to.
I think you might have to fight your way around their version of Steam if you get it there though.
All I did is just to avoid another buyer's remorse.
If you've played other strategy games [JA2/Silent Storm/Swat 2] the game will make a lot of sense to you.
Do people really find the original X-Com's UI that difficult? The Battlescape had a few un-named buttons for the reaction fire TU thingies and I recall grenades were a bit confusing ("Wait, I've primed it, but I have to throw it too? Oka... Oh, no TUs. Was nice knowing you, Rookie.") but I don't remember much else being terribad.
"Swans are so big, they're like the Ostriches of the bird world"
Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.
Another alternative is to try and play Terror From the Deep which, from what I've heard, takes the original and basically improves on it. ;P I have always been a fan of the original and still play that game quite a bit. In my opinion, the original is probably my favorite strategy game of all time. ;P
I won't be buying the new one actually for a while, partially due to a really full backlog, but when I need a UFO fix, I can play the original again. ;P
You really have no excuse not to buy it now - 75p on GameFly:
"Swans are so big, they're like the Ostriches of the bird world"
Vinraith - I would urge you not to dismiss the remake before it's even out. The RPS folks seem to have really liked it and felt it had retained it's tactical depth. Obviously you should not take that at face value and do your own research once people have been able to see the full game. I just feel that ruling out the remake completely could be a disservice to yourself. I'd definitely play the original though, whether you play the remake or not.
If you have trouble with the original, TFTD is worse. And the interface didn't get any boosts. Also by default it has a crippling research bug which makes it impossible to research armour unless you follow a very specific research pattern, though fan patches can fix that.
OK, say I've been convinced to just try the original. What mods/tools do I need? XComUtil? Extender? What settings should I use? Is there a consensus on this stuff among fans?