Know Your Enemy: UFO: Alien Invasion 2.3

Oh noes! I'm going to miss! If only I was in some kind of first-person system, I'd have been able to line up my shot correctly.

Good news for all those who are annoyed with 2k’s moving XCOM away from XCOM. They’ve backed down completely, made a strategy game and released it for free on the Internet… yeah, sorry, that hasn’t happened. But popular open-source freeware spiritually-derived UFO: Alien Invasion has just released its two-years-in-the-waiting latest edition. I swear we’ve written more about this before, but I can only find Jim’s linkblog from a couple of years back, so possibly not. Improvements here include Alien Activity altering depending on player behaviour, fancier rendering, Assaultable Alien Bases, Crashed UFO Missions and – oh! – lots of stuff. Like tweaks. Nothing like a well tweaked game, I always say. Any fans in the audience excited by the update?


  1. Mwalk10 says:

    Played through this last year and was plenty of fun. The lack of destructible terrain is annoying, but you get used to it. Other than that It does a great job recreating the fun gameplay of x-com, but it doesn’t innovate much. Even the UI is only slightly better.

  2. Mwalk10 says:

    I played through this last year and was plenty of fun. The lack of destructible terrain is annoying, but you get used to it. Other than that It does a great job recreating the fun gameplay of x-com, but it doesn’t innovate much. Even the UI is only slightly better. Hopefully with the new update it will finally play on my laptop.

  3. Daniel Rivas says:

    Mac version!

    I shall investigate.

    • scoopsy says:

      Ooh, thanks for pointing that out! Definitely have to try this out now.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      Hmm. Is it just the mac version, or do all the clients display text filenames, instead of their content, in emails, etc?

      Very odd.

  4. Taillefer says:

    It was pretty decent last time I played. The UI wasn’t too hot, and the maps were fairly small and dull. But the update notes improvements there, so hurrah! It’s probably not a very good starting point for people who never played X-Com, but it would be interesting to hear from anybody who played this and not those.

    Personally, I preferred a modded UFO:ET, but I’ll check out the update soon.

  5. Katmandoo says:

    I played the release version of this, it’s actually really good, in fact i’d say it’s excellent. Actually that’s a bit far

  6. Peterkopf says:

    I’ve played it too, it was good fun, if slightly short of the mark. The build I played was far too easy, and the bobblehead soldiers were far too cute, but it was good clean fun.

    It’s gonna be interesting to see what happens with that Xenonauts project, even though it probably won’t be around for a bit.

  7. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    Downloading now! Pretty excited for this; the previous version I played was a lot of fun despite questionable UI decisions and the general wonkiness that projects of great scope sometimes succumb to.

    I wish they did the equip soldiers thing like X-COM, where you load up your shuttle with goodies and then equip the people right before combat. Alien Invasion makes you equip soldiers who are slotted for the shuttle before they are sent out, otherwise your grunts will not have guns.

    Also, flamethrowers are wonderful weapons.

    • fucrate says:

      Really? This is one of the things I hated most about X-COM’s UI, having to load the same weapons on the same soldiers before every battle gets really tedious. Maybe better would be a blending of the two, allowing for quick switchups right before combat but having each soldier have their preferred loadout saved.

    • Mad Doc MacRae says:

      Maybe. There’s something that feels off for the Alien Invasion equipping process for me though.

  8. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    Ive played an older version than this, and this change log seems to make right all i saw wrong (Even though i still played the game loads)

    Also, multiplayer could be fun. Ive played that standalone X-COM like multiplayer game, wasnt too great as I wasnt use to their exact mechanics. But being able to play the game single player first should should in in this games case.

  9. Horza says:

    The problem with X-COM remakes is that so far I haven’t found a reason to not just play them instead of the original X-COM (or UFO:Enemy Unknown as it should be called).

  10. Daniel Rivas says:

    Hmm. It’s a bit clunky, isn’t it? I think I’d prefer this in 2D, and faster in terms of movement.

    And on my DS.

  11. Cooper says:

    Quick on the draw there – sure I checked this yesterday to see if they’d released an update yet.

    Not sure the game’s completed yet – the last version simply slows to a stall at one point because the story hadn’t been written…

  12. The Hammer says:

    Brilliant alt-text there, Kieron. 8D

  13. sinister agent says:

    Ah good, I played this a couple of years ago and rather enjoyed it. The fact that even some of the weedy human weapons retain their usefulness (indeed, sometimes remain supreme) even well into the game was appreciated. Some niggles aside, it was a largely well-made thing. Air combat was weird, though.

    I’ll have to have a look at this again now. Have they set it up so you can save mid-mission yet? I remember there being a lot of snotty sneering on the devs’ website about how saving mid-mission is for cheats and girly-men, and therefore they wouldn’t even include the option to make it possible. Which grated more than slightly.

    Well worth a look, though – structurally it’s more x-com than any of the other attempts I’ve seen.

  14. bakaohki says:

    Oh no, totally here we go again. I really had high hopes for this game (when it started, which was not yesterday) – but knowing that you can’t destroy the environment I don’t want it (played with it for a couple of times, did not like it). Anyone played the original UFO games know how important that was (like burning up the fields, shooting out a fence, blasting away half the walls), so I’m not whining here, I just want half the tactics back.

  15. Coins says:

    I love X-COM or UFO or whatever you fancy. I am terrible at it though. Half the fun was getting to the part where you get rocket tanks and utterly decimating buildings, so not to risk soldiers to nasties inside. Not very cost-effective, but quite fun. I shall give this a try despite the fact I actually have to be good at this game now.

  16. dragon_hunter21 says:

    Considering I was but an embryo when XCOM came out and was raised primarily on Windows 98 and XP, I never really had a chance to get into it (Not to mention the fact that I’m too lazy to dig up the very first in the series). Now, I think I’m gonna give this a shot.

  17. Raúl says:

    Love the 2 ways you can throw the grenades, you can roll them!

    Its a really complete X-Com sim, I like it so far.

  18. Webster says:


    I played this way, way back several years ago in some kind of alpha state. I thought it was excellent but the website went under a year or two ago and I assume the project had fallen apart. I have some vague recollection of being an active forum member for a while too. I’m really pleased to discover that it’s still going!

    I’m off to download this at once. With speed!

  19. MadMatty says:

    I ain´t playing no Xcom without destructible terrain.

  20. bookwormat says:

    I swear we’ve written more about this before, but I can only find Jim’s linkblog from a couple of years back, so possibly not.

    What about spending some time with it and doing a wot I think? Personally, I would be far more interested in this than in long speculative preview articles about games that I cannot yet buy and that we have little to no real information about.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Have *I* written anything about XCOM?


    • bookwormat says:

      Have *I* written anything about XCOM?

      Not sure, but *I* did certainly not meant to comment on you or the upcoming XCOM game alone, but previews in general. As a reader I prefer opinions on games I can play over speculations on games that I can not play.

      And I would really like to read that WIT for Alien Invasion.

  21. Wisq says:

    Great, so they’re making a game. Wake me when they switch graphics engine so they can have destructible terrain, and therefore have a good chance of actually recreating X-COM.

  22. Mr.Ferret says:

    I’ve never played XCOM of any flavor before, this game is fantastic! haha. Makes me want to check out the others now too.

    • Bret says:

      Not sure, and this is more a gamble than a confident proclamation, but…

      You ain’t seen nothing yet.

      The first one and Apoc had worse graphics, but the ability to lay waste to everything…


    • Mr.Ferret says:

      Fair enough, ill be sure too check out the older ones, its just fantastic, right up my alley why haven’t i played anything like this before!

    • Mr.Ferret says:

      Have since bought the original on steam, loving it :)

  23. HelpingHand says:

    @Bret: The alt says; “Oh noes! I’m going to miss! If only I was in some kind of first-person system, I’d have been able to line up my shot correctly.”

    • Uhm says:

      Pretty sure it actually had a first person view mode so you can see if you’ll miss the shot, though. Ahem.

  24. Gregorix says:

    Not bad at all, campaign was a bit broken.
    And air combat was… odd

  25. Tom Camfield says:

    I’m very excited. I always found UFO a bit like Footy Manager, high on stats and hard to beat if you can’t be bothered to analyse them. UFO:AI is just easier to use (IIRC). End game wasn’t written last time I played, but I had fun playing through until then. (Mac version)

    Dunno if it’ll appeal to fans of the original UFO, I guess I like my strategy games a little faster…

  26. Mh says:

    I have to tell you that I feel that, despite it’s far lower resoution, the original game looks by far graphically superior.

    I will not be playing this.

  27. Nervous Pete says:

    Silly goose, Kieron’s first review as X-Com on the Amiga, for Amiga Power, if I remember correct?

    Something like 33% I recall, owing to Lord of the Rings extended edition load times and AI-thinky-dink pauses. Ahh yes, a golden time for high scoring games in AP if I recall.

    • Bret says:

      Kieron said XCOM, not X-Com.

      As in the new First Person Man goo shoot.

      Punctuation is becoming more and more central in our discussions, it seems.

  28. Victoria says:

    Thats a good news to everyone! And for me..I am excited to play it again :). Thanks!

  29. Tye The Czar says:

    Say, I have an idea. Firaxis is good with turn-based strategy games. So, why not have them develop a turn-based XCOM? Hell, they could even get input from the Gollop brothers.

    • jeremypeel says:

      They’ll only do it if they can twist it into an expansion for Civ somehow.

    • Bret says:

      Well, they already did that.

      Not that it rules out a repeat, mind, and X-Com and Civ have a history together.

  30. jeremypeel says:

    I know the concept of knowing your enemy is pretty widely cited, but does the title of this post count as a musical reference to the lesser-known Manics album?

    • Bret says:

      Think it’s more of a reference to X-Com’s origins as UFO: Enemy unknown.

      (Which is a pretty nifty title, all told.)

  31. Daniel Rivas says:

    “Punctuation is becoming more and more central in our discussions, it seems.”

    This can only be a good thing.

  32. H-Hour says:

    Nope, no destructible terrain and not likely to be in the future. Even if the engine was modified for it (no small feat), we don’t have the artists to make the destructable content. I agree a lot of the artwork is mediocre. The engine’s visual capabilities were really improved but very little of the artwork has yet been upgraded to take advantage of that.

    Which brings me to the real reason I’m posting: we need artists. Building for a top-down game may not attract a lot of artists, but it has its own charms, really! So come help us out.

    And thanks to RPS for the promo!

  33. Bullseye says:

    Hmmm….hopefully this will change. I agree, that by mid-game in X-Com, I’m punching holes in everything I see to get an edge over the aliens. The rest of the change log sounds great. I love seeing this one getting more and more fleshed off, but I have to admit, I hadn’t put a lot of time into the previous release.

  34. Gman says:

    You really are missing out. The original came out in my early years of computing and it has remained a golden example of simulation fun. As usual, remakes cannot quite capture the moment, but they do take me back.

  35. michal says:


    If you guys are interested in freeware fan remakes of X-com, here is another one:
    link to

    There is demo version available, but it’s quite outdated. Internal, developers only releases are far far more advanced.

    Basically, it’s like Ufo: Enemy Unknown remastered – with higher resolution, bug fixes, gameplay changes, new features – among them, there is possibility to play in singleplayer as alien (not ready yet) and in multiplayer (one person is alien, second is x-com).

    It uses graphic from original game (that’s why you must own it to play ufo: tts). But many graphics has been remade, with higher resolution.

  36. Wendell Fogmaster says:

    You have to set the language in the Overall Options. There is no default. After that, real text will appear. Now if I can only make it stop crashing before missions.