Knights Of Cydonia: X-COM Gallery

Not at all inspired by John’s visual homage to Day of the Tentacle, I find myself compelled to present this large roster of attractive images from a game I’m rather taken with. UFO: Enemy Unknown, also known as X-COM: UFO Defense, is an exciting new science-fiction tactical action game from British developers Mythos, due for release in October 1994. You’ll need to make sure your IBM-compatible personal computer has been upgraded to 2Mb of RAM and a VGA monitor for this one!

Well, I think this looks absolutely super – don’t you?


  1. Shrewsbury says:

    Hurrah! I look forward to its release, my creaky old IBM PC needs a spot of upgrading, methinks, so I shall see if I can mail order some parts asap!

  2. Martin Kingsley says:

    *sighs happily* It’s so beautiful.

    Mind you, I was absolutely RUBBISH at X-Com, but it was still wonderful.

  3. Mike Giggler says:

    Looks like it’s lost the magic of Laser Squad, if you ask me.

    • Britpunk says:

      Rebelstar > Laser Squad

    • Tei says:



      The Marsec corporation manufactures the best weapons in the galaxy, but its boss, Sterner Regnix, uses unsavoury methods to extract the best from his top scientists. The use of mind control drugs and cybernetic implants is widely used, but officially denied by Marsec. The Inter-stellar Trading Standards Authority is powerless to intervene. A small band of ex-employees have decided to assassinate Sterner Regnix. They have located his private home on the planet CX-1 and will stop at nothing until Sterner is dead.


      ASSASSIN SQUAD: Deploy on the red and yellow deployment squares around the house. Entrance to the house can be gained through opening the east or west doors.
      DROID SQUAD: Sterner Regnix and his body guard of combat droids deploy on the blue squares inside the house.

      ASSASSIN SQUAD: If the Assassins manage to eliminate Sterner Regnix they win the game.
      DROID SQUAD: The droid squad wins if they eliminate all the assassins and Sterner Regnix remains alive.


      Laser Squad manual.

  4. Squashua says:

    I always wondered if they stole a bunch of comic book art from Wildcats or something (see “Hidden Movement”, the athletic alien leader in the chair, and the snapshot of green-clad purple aliens being gunned down.

    • Helm says:

      seems heavily Image Comics influenced, yes. I wouldn’t hold it below them to have swiped panels directly yes, the Amiga days (especially in the demoscene) were rife with copying. Doesn’t diminish the greatness of the game. And even if they’re not swiped, the superhero zeitgeist of the time that colours this game too has not aged well.

  5. Krazmaz says:

    I do so love that game. With a passion. In fact, I’m going to play some right now! In my underpants! In the dark! What an age to be alive!

    • SiHy_ says:

      I was wearing clothes but goddamn it, you’ve convinced me- UFO, underpants, dark, now!
      Great way to liven up the old cubicle!

  6. JuJuCam says:

    I don’t see why I should be forced to upgrade for this one game when my 286 works perfectly for every other game, I guess the graphics look ok but it’s not worth it if it’s not any fun IMO.

  7. Mister Adequate says:

    Jesus Christ it’s a Chrysalid get in the Skyranger

    • sinister agent says:


    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Never found Chryssalids that much trouble outside of terror sites. Autoshot with Heavy Plasma usually kills or at least stuns them since they have so much HP or pull out the old faithful Blaster Launcher when they’re at range. As long as you use decent cover tactics you should be able to put at least 2 autoshots on them & unless you get very unlucky they’re down for the duration of the mission (or if you have terrible accuracy on your soldiers which is your own fault really).
      They’re only a hassle on terror sites because they can make 10-15 more of themselves in addition to the 3-6 which arrive with the Snakemen.
      I always had more hassle with Ethereals & the psi-capable Sectoids mainly because of how long Psionic training takes.

    • Matt W says:

      Fucking chryssalids.

  8. jsutcliffe says:

    UFO and X-Wing were my first PC games (having been raised on an Amiga). Those were some damn good times.

    Shockingly, though I don’t recall finding UFO especially hard when it came out, I totally sucked at it when I tried it again a few years ago.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      PC version had the difficulty bugged. Playing on anything above beginner would switch down to beginner after your first tactical mission. Never fixed in any patch.
      Not sure if the Amiga version had the same bug but it was fixed for the Playstation version as they used the TFTD engine.

      This is the main reason why people think TFTD was far more difficult than UFO.

    • Bret says:


      My ass. One of, sure. A big one, even.

      But I’ve played both on beginner, and the nigh-invulnerable Lobstermen, nightmarishly dull two part missions, and the fact every weapon available was borderline useless pretty much convinced me that TFTD was more nightmarish without touching the difficulty slider.

      And don’t ask how I got a copy of the sequel before the first one was even released. My dad knows a guy.

  9. Bret says:

    Man, I love X-Com.

    Leads my steam playlist overall by a large margin.

    And I’m almost sorta good at it these days!

  10. Vinraith says:

    A brilliant game, and still damn good looking considering its age. I guess it proves that good art design stands the test of time no matter how “primitive” the tools used to create it.

  11. Monkeybreadman says:

    I’ve got a preview copy and i have to say it is brilliant.

    If something like a USB stick gets invented i’d put it on there and be able to run it on my computer at work. I can dream….

    • Monkeybreadman says:

      Present day – This game needs a 2010 remake. Again, i can dream….

    • Renzatic says:

      USB? What’s that? Sounds like some fancy new power supply.

      :hooks up Gravis Gamepad to AWE64 to play some Skyroads:

  12. Illuminati says:

    Looks good. When I’ve finished Doom2 I’ll try it.

  13. H4NNiB4L says:

    I’d gladly leave a comment here, but it appears, that i still dont have dialup connection at my home.
    Ill come back in 1,5 years. Although, the first url address i’ll type in that super advanced IE browser will be (theres still no google, damn it!)

  14. JuJuCam says:

    Also, I’m shocked that it doesn’t support EGA. They’re locking out at least 50% of the current PC gamer market!

  15. RedFred says:

    That guy in the red in the second shot knows how to sit in a chair.

    Oh yes.

  16. Gritz says:

    Who keeps four radars when they have a hyperwave decoder?! Madness.

    • Monkeybreadman says:

      Amen brother

    • rei says:

      Wasn’t there a bug that makes you keep paying upkeep for your modules even if you demolish them? Might as well get the benefit of the pretty graphics in that case.

    • ZamFear says:

      @rei: Yes. But if you build over it again, you stop having to pay for empty space, so you might as well swap them for something useful (since that base layout is going to be ridiculous to defend, I’d go for 3 fusion defenses and a grav shield).
      There’s also a bug that makes having more than one of each radar pointless as well, so there’s two long radars too many to begin with.

  17. LionsPhil says:

    I miss the days when games were packed with beautiful art.

  18. Bret says:

    All of you waiting for this?

    I’m posting this from the far off future year of 1999.

    It’s all true. Dear lord, IT’S ALL TRUE.

  19. Dartheus says:

    Thats not a reference to John Carpenters Prince of Darkness is it?

    • Bonedwarf says:

      I’m curious about the name Adam Pearce. Fans of a certain form of entertainment will recognize it. (And no, I don’t mean porn.)

      Was a great game. Loved it to bits. So exciting.

  20. Oak says:

    The HIDDEN MOVEMENT screen.

    The fear.

    The trembling.

  21. Handles says:

    Ahh Adam Pierce is wielding a Blaster Launcher. I used it love the quick one-two of blowing a hole in the top of the UFO with the first shot, and then wiping out the entire floor below with the second. Tended to reduce your salvage gains, but worth it for the carnage.

    • ZamFear says:

      @Handles: Meh, as long as you keep the engines in one piece, that’s all that matters :)

      Also why is he holding a stun bomb? Using it as a good luck charm?

    • Subject 706 says:

      Oh, Blaster Launcher, I have such fond memories of you…leveling barns, blowing up gas stations, generally making holes…we have done so much together you and I.

      How I love you, Blaster Launcher, how I love you.

  22. Mart says:

    That base is a nightmare to defend!

    • AS says:

      Indeed, someone needs to re-plan their base. It looks like the 80 item limit would also be hit as well with such a messy base, and it’d take forever to search and destroy everything.

      And how do you manage to keep all of Europe, while losing France?

    • Stromko says:

      Well, China has the great wall, and France decided to try out a line of defensive forts just one more time for old time’s sake. Who knew UFOs could fly?

    • Britpunk says:

      Happened to me in one of my games. Before I manage to get decent crafts, aliens sent 3 x-large and 1 large UFOs to London, Paris, Madrid and one of the scandinavian cities. Managed to defeat 3 with ground assaults, but the other one got away and by the end of the month they’d signed a pact.

  23. litrock says:

    I’d never played this game myself until I bought it on Steam a few months ago. Never having played PC games back in the day (I was 9 and tearing around Super Mario World or whatever at that time) I found myself utterly befuddled by the insanity that was this complex, esoteric interface.

    I ended up struggling around for a while, and then watching a let’s play of the game on youtube. That let’s play was more fun watching someone play a game than I can ever remember having. The game is still really neat, even to someone looking at it as only a thing of the past. I muddle around in it from time to time now, but I still find the interface to be my greatest hurdle. The rest of the game is brilliant, though.

  24. DD says:

    Speaking of Muse, I am attending their concert this Saturday!

  25. PleasingFungus says:

    Played a ton of it after I got it off Steam. Got more-or-less stuck after a while… had fun until then, though. Might go back to it someday.

    (Never got power armor, fancy ships… I was probably doing something wrong, but I really don’t know what.)

  26. disperse says:

    Ahh, brings back the memories… horrible, horrible, memories.

    No, really, love the game, but the inevitable gruesome death of my recruits traumatized me.

  27. Jadan says:

    Oh my gosh, was that a nude shot of a rear end? Whatever will the ESRB say? Safe to say this game won’t be sold in Austrailia unless the do some serious censoring.

  28. nabeel says:

    <3 X-COM. These retro galleries are a great idea.

    If anyone owns a Game Boy Advance or DS Lite, there was a relatively recent game by Julian Gollop called <a href="link to Tactical Command, basically just the tactical combat part of X-COM.

    • Stromko says:

      I enjoyed that game, never did finish it but got rather far. Challenging and nifty, though not as good of an interface. Another screen to display more information at once (particularly on the loadout screen), and of course a touch interface would have helped things, too bad they didn’t update it for the DS in particular.

    • oceanclub says:

      The GBA game is the only game of this type I’ve played in any detail. I did buy the X-Com games on Steam, but without reading a manual, I was utterly baffled. Can anyone suggest which of the games I should start with first, and if there’s a tutorial out there?


    • ZamFear says:

      @oceanclub: The UFOPaedia has a beginner’s guide which may be some help.
      Starting Your Shadowy Paramilitary Organization.

    • nabeel says:

      It was convenient for getting into quick skirmishes, something to keep my fingers busy while I listen to podcasts or something.

      Might as well start with the first in the series, ie. UFO Defense/Enemy Unknown. That guide that ZamFear linked is good. If you’re familiar with the GBA game then you are probably going to understand the combat part fine, it’s the strategy part that’ll take some figuring out.

  29. Bahumat says:

    Sigh, how I still love this game so much.

    Desperately in need of a remake. Don’t change a goddamn thing about it otherwise; just update the resolution, give it graphical support for modern systems, and pretty up the graphics (but please, do keep the original art style).

    They could resell this game to me every 5 years and I’d buy it.

  30. MWoody says:

    Let’s not forget TFTD, i.e. X-com + Lovecraft. The game suffered from some problems – poor bastards made the maps bigger and it actually made the game a little worse – but it has a dark and creepy aesthetic all its own.

    The third one looked (and played) like shit on a cracker, though.

    • Britpunk says:

      Ugh. TFTD. How I love it but what the hell were they thinking: So after spending a good four hours creeping round the deck of a cruise ship, full of perilous nooks and crannies, I finally pin down the last Tasoth Soldier that’s been playing havok with my squad, which is by now reduced to three troops.

      I open fire with my sonic cannon. Miss. Fuck. No more TUs. My last troop with any TUs left is way down the ship with nothing more than a sonic pistol. Surely not? I fire and the sonic beam sails through the air. It hits home! The Tasoth drops! I’m the king…..

      ….A screen pops up. Now I have to go deeper into the ship to clear below deck? WTF? Oh christ…

  31. neils clark says:

    I removed RAM from a computer in order to properly play this game, once upon a time. And I kept that old Gateway for years. For the love of X-COM.

  32. neils clark says:

    Anyone down to remake this game with me?

    • MWoody says:

      Many have tried, both commercial and free. All have failed, to varying degrees.

  33. Olli T. says:

    TFTD was seriously almost too scary to play. The punishing difficulty didn’t help, either.

  34. Feste says:

    That autopsied Chrysalid looks so happy; he just wants to make friends with you and lay his eggs in your brain. What’s wrong with that?

  35. GT3000 says:

    Absolutely nothing.

  36. fucrate says:

    April Fools! This game is actually old.

  37. Dominic White says:

    Bah, that first shot? With the alien guy in red? So anime it HURTS. It’s developers dumbing down for those console kiddies, I tell ya.

  38. Huggster says:

    Still one of the best games ever made, even now

  39. Rinox says:

    Why did they stop making games like this (concept, not graphics) anyway?

    • GT3000 says:

      They haven’t.

    • Rinox says:

      Squad-based TBS games that go above a mere succession of missions (ie basebuilding, research, diplomatic relations etc.)? There haven’t been all that many have there?

      I guess Fallout: Tactics was kinda like that, but yeah…

    • Subject 706 says:

      Well since we’re FINALLY getting a new Jagged Alliance, they’ve started making TBS games again. Unless it will be shit. Then I will cry.

    • Taillefer says:

      There certainly aren’t many which go beyond just the combat. Several games have tried to emulate UFO, though. There are the games by Altar Interactive, there’s “UFO: Extraterrestrials” (gold edition recently released), the freeware project “UFO: Alien Invasion”, which is sort of finished and, I think, still receiving updates to add to mechanics and features.

      A new one would be most welcome.

  40. Risingson says:

    The first game I ever hacked.

  41. JoeDuck says:

    Wait, the inventory screen did not have the stats of the soldier! How did you get the stats in the inventory screen? I NEED TO KNOW!!!!!!
    Someone above commented the bad interface. He is right.
    Others talked about the comicky graphics. They are also right.
    The guy who said it was buggy? Spot on.
    And yet, we are talking about the best game in history, better than half life, Xwing, Mario and Quake all together.
    I honestly think a successful remake is impossible to do, because part of it’s charm is that it’s a small game and today, game design is usually a matter of “more of everything, specially the graphics”
    Let me explain:
    – Battles are small, 8 soldier affairs in relatively small areas. The battles are thus manageable. They suffer in the later part of the game, because with a lot of soldiers and huge ufos, they tend to drag on and on.
    – Although micromanagement is required, the number of bases, planes and soldiers is closer to an RTS than a turn based game. This makes each decision meaningful and you can have in your head how many proximity grenades you have in your base, for example.
    – The tech tree is not that big, nor is the strategic map. You don’t have to research 5 boring things to get access to the one you want.
    – The battle environment seems composed of basic tiles randomly glued, like a final fantasy tactics thing, but in fact what we have is a 3D procedurally generated, destructible environment with dynamic lightning (yes, it IS dynamic, throw an incendiary rocket at night and you’ll see what I mean) and fog of war. Which sounds quite modern to me.
    – The graphics… are old but great. I have honestly no idea how to improve them. No remake has captured the flavour of these graphics, neither professional or amateur designers seemed to find the right flavour.
    So I wil finish with one simple statement. This game needs no remaking, but it would benefit from a lot of modding. If we could get our dirty paws on the battle engine code, then I personally would do a first mod with a 2 person coop against the aliens, each using 4 soldiers.
    The second mod would be 2 soldiers in coop with 4 soldiers each vs. 1 alien with 6 aliens.
    Small and simple, same graphics, same engine, same maps, same turn by turn play.
    I’d add the network code, a chat room and that’s it.

  42. cw8 says:

    Mind Control > All

  43. Pema says:

    Actually, I enjoyed TFTD more.

  44. gulag says:


    I was just extolling the virtues of this beautiful game yesterday to some mates. You could argue that there are many games that picked up the ball put into play by X-COM and ran with it, but never quite re-captured it’s essential charm.

    I think the art style has a lot to do with this. Making it ‘darker’ and more realistic in style doesn’t really make X-COM better. That ‘Champions’ era art-style sets the tone perfectly. An update, smoothing out the UI, and using a full 3D engine would be a wonder to behold.

    Yes, I’m well aware some inspired souls had a crack at exactly that in the Quake 2 (?) engine, but it wasn’t really finished.

  45. Pew says:

    I always wondered what Gambit was doing in that Hidden Movement screen.

  46. DavidK says:

    Loving these galleries. More!

  47. the_fanciest_of_pants says:

    I’m sorry but all I can think about is how much of a pain in the ass it must be to defend that base in picture number 2. Goddamn man, put the hangers in the corners, or at least against a wall.

  48. ZephyrSB says:

    All you silly IBM types and your upgrades, I’ll be playing this on my Amiga thankyouverymuch.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Amiga version came out many years later. I played UFO first on a mates PC & it was defintely at least a couple of years before I got it for my A1200.

      PlayStation version is still the best though especially if you have the PlayStation mouse. They used the TFTD engine so they fixed bugs which are still in v1.4 on the PC (you can do things like right click on a door to open it which is in PC TFTD but not PC UFO/XCOM). Plus you get music. This & TFTD are the only reason my PlayStation isn’t in a box at the back of a wardrobe. Far superior to the PC versions & that’s mostly down to Sony’s QA standards.

    • Britpunk says:

      I tend to disagree Malibu Stacey. As a conversion it was fair enough, but the Playstation version was totally crippled by agonisingly long load times. TFTD was even worse for this. I still regret flogging them both when I was poor though. (actually I’m still poor, as is life).

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Better game with longer loading times or fast loading times & bugs all over. I know which I prefer.
      TBH I never noticed the loading times but I may just be used to them & AFAIK the only time the game loads anything is when going between geoscape to tactical battles and vice-versa.

      I’ve thought about looking into some sort of PSX emulator so I can pack the PlayStation away & just play them on my PC using the PSX discs but I’m too lazy and forgetful.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      Malibu Stacey: Actually, Amiga version was released by Microprose in 1994, just like PC version, only a couple of months later (PC version came out on December 31, 1993 in some parts of he world, this is the reason people celebrate that day’s anniversary with fireworks, unrestricted alcohol use, sex etc.) There were many versions, AGA (better graphics but slower, 5 disks), OCS/ECS (worse graphics, faster, 4 disc), and later CD32 (on CD-ROM, for “Amiga console”), and also various re-releases, for example by Guildhall Leisure. I remember teaching my cousin how to play the CD32 version. Amiga version had better sound than PC version, and graphics looked better thanks to “soft” pixels of TV-displays/monitors, at least to me. This is still my favourite game, despite the fact that Amiga version has no night/day cycle.

  49. ErikM says:

    Bought the complete X-Com series on Steam a while back. Man, to think that I once completed Terror from the Deep. They’re so goddamned punishing! Great games!

  50. SirWhat says:

    xcom had destruction back then.

    i want proper xcom4 that keeps and improves gameplay but in some fancy new engine (frostbite?)