X-Comparisons Inevitable: Falling Skies

Are there any fans of Falling Skies out there? I have vague memories of a trailer for the first season but it left about as much of an impression as a gnat on a trampoline. As the end times approach for the sci-fi show about the end times that follow an alien invasion, some enterprising developers have released an XCOM total conversion that takes place following “the destruction of an Espheni tower at the end of season 3”. Quite how DreamWorks will feel about this use of their intellectual property is…

Oh. It’s not an XCOM mod. It’s an officially licensed game based on a series about an alien invasion that looks a bit like XCOM. And by ‘a bit’, I mean ‘almost exactly’.

Turn-based squad-level tactical combat against aliens can come in many guises. Sure, the command viewpoint and ‘cinematic’ camera angles are a little familiar, and, yes, elements of the UI are recognisable, but at least the Skitters don’t look like and behave in a manner not entirely dissimilar to another alien lifeform.

Developers Little Orbit have featured on RPS before and they have several Barbie titles in their back catalogue, among other games using toy and cartoon licenses. A turn-based tactical skirmish game is a step up from that, I guess.

Chicken Little has a week to prepare – Falling Skies is set for release on September 30th.

55 Comments

  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    I’m not a fan, more a disgruntled viewer.

    It’s shit, but shit I keep watching.

    I have no doubt at all that the game will be pants.

    • skyturnedred says:

      Me too. I have no idea why I keep watching.

      The game does look clunky, but I see some potential.

      • FireStorm1010 says:

        Lol i had exact same experience with the first 3 seasons. I kept thinking its shit, but kept watching.
        They must be doing something right lol

        • Corporate Dog says:

          I think I got roped in just because the first season was set largely around Acton, Mass. which is where my sister lives IRL, and I found that inexplicably amusing.

          But, yeah. Not a great show by any stretch. Still watching it, four seasons in. It’s just a really stale-feeling apocalypse that could probably stand a few more credible human antagonists (and better writing).

          An XCOM clone set in this world DOES pique my interest a bit, though.

          • His Divine Shadow says:

            Well, it’s post-apocalyptic, big budget, has aliens and mechs in it, and doesn’t have zombies. The entire first season was frustratingly one-note, with overpowering evil aliens and resilient heroic humans fighting them to the last man “because that’s what makes them human”, in between spewing pompous speeches and suffering family drama. But it suddenly opened up later, when the Volm appeared, who even showed some promise at possibly *not* being unconditionally Dei-ex-machina, elves-at-Helm’s-Deep -good, and also political power struggle among the humans started to escalate. Sadly, both of those potentials were completely squandered, while the levels of family values propaganda kept being annoyingly high. The collaborationism theme is the only thing that is still mildly interesting.

  2. melnificent says:

    It’s been nearly a year since the last XCOM so I’ll take it.

    • Ansob says:

      Xenonauts came out three months ago, dude.

    • eggy toast says:

      Invisible, Inc. is very solid and Xcom-y. Hard to imagine the Barbie game people are going to do better that Klei, anyway.

      • DrManhatten says:

        First Invisible Inc has no real combat it is more off a stealth game , second your squad has a very limited size, third it is EA (and we all know how well that can go). So overall no not a good comparison at all. Xenonauts is a far better comparison although I don’t find the ground combat so intense as it is in XCOM. But the base strategic layer is far superior.

      • melnificent says:

        Spacebase burnt my last Early Access bridge.
        I’m waiting for the other early access games I’ve backed to complete so as to rebuild them.

        Also no Linux build so can’t play it anyway.

  3. ForlornWinter says:

    I mean, if they’re really that intent on copying X-COM, maybe it’ll be good? The interface, what peeks we got of it, looked clunky, but, you know. So was the original X-COM’s.

  4. Amun says:

    We need more articles about sexism.

  5. DaftPunk says:

    How can they copy so much of one game and not get sued or something similar ??

    • Everyone says:

      Game mechanics cannot be protected under copyright, nor can they be patented – thank goodness, otherwise various companies would be trying to patent “method using cubical objects to provide random data” and then sue anyone who so much as glanced at a D6. Although if they didn’t relate it to game mechanics maybe that could be patented … ohgodwhathaveidone??

      Anyway, art (written, visual, 3d, whatever) is protected by copyright, so as long as they didn’t copy the code or copy the art assets (as in literally screen grab and then use) they are ok. There are clones of games, as in “inspired by” and then there are direct copies. One is legal, one is not.

      • Baines says:

        Companies patent gameplay mechanics anyway. They just word it so that it sounds like something else. And they get away with it, because any attempt to challenge means a costly legal battle that might not even find the patent invalid.

  6. aunshi says:

    Falling Skies had a really good first season, and could have been X-Com the series…. unfortunately it massively suffered from idiot writers/Speilberg going for “dramatic effect” over logical plot progression…and anything making actual sense.

  7. Drake Sigar says:

    I’m not keen if it’s based off a television show. Sure there are TV properties out there converted into good games, but it doesn’t happen often.

    • TheTingler says:

      I can name South Park: The Stick of Truth, a small handful of Star Trek titles, and the occasional Simpsons game (like, one per decade). Any others?

      • Drake Sigar says:

        TellTale’s The Walking Dead isn’t based off the TV show, pretty sure Pokemon games were being released before the cartoon and had nothing to do with it, CSI had a bunch of ok to poor games… how about Power Rangers? Don’t know much about the modern ones but I recall a couple of decent beat-em-ups back in the 90s.

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          Harlander says:

          Pokemon games were being released before the cartoon

          In fact, the opening of the first episode of the Pokemon cartoon is a monochrome, Game Boy-looking battle scene imitating the original games before filling in to a full colour representation…

    • Anthile says:

      The Game of Thrones game is a weird case. It’s mostly based on the show, with some of the actors reprising their roles for voice acting, but it also uses characters that were cut in the show. Then there’s events that foreshadow things in the latest books. Well, it may not be the best game there is but I kind of enjoyed it.

      • Drake Sigar says:

        The Game of Thrones RPG is weighed down by flaws but I liked the bits it did well, and one thing it did really well was feeling like a 100% genuine Game of Thrones story. It just fits so well.

    • Mr Propellerhead says:

      “I’m not keen if it’s based off a television show. Sure there are TV properties out there converted into good games, but it doesn’t happen often.”
      The inception and premise of X-Com itself was heavily influenced by a television show.

  8. aircool says:

    At least someone is making another turn based game, there’s still not enough of them. I was playing Divinity: Original Sin (which is incredibly awesome) and that got me back into XCOM.

    • aepervius says:

      Try wasteland 2. I am astonished in the production value I have seen so far and the quality. My only problem with WL2 so far is only that there are way too few area which are not “brown”.

      • mbpopolano24 says:

        Confirmed. If you like TB games, both D:OS and Wasteland 2 are magnificent, I am in gaming heaven since late June.

  9. AbyssUK says:

    Sorry but falling skies the series is nothing like xcom, i see no elite soliders picked from the best of the best fighting for humanity, i see a ragtag group of people surviving and fighting back when they can.. how is that xcom ? I agree it isn’t brilliant but still get it right :)

    Anyway, the title could have been used to make something really awesome game wise, think dayz with alien invading intelligent forces.. would make an awesome arma3 mod…

    • TimorousBeastie says:

      “Sorry but falling skies the series is nothing like xcom, i see no elite soliders picked from the best of the best fighting for humanity,”

      While I agree that’s the narrative, I’ve played a lot of XCom over the last 15 years and the one thing I’ve not seen is elite soldiers picked from the best of the best fighting against humanity. It’s not that bad in the new one, but generally they’re still utter newbies to begin with, unable to hit anything at more than a dozen metres. In that regard, a rag-tag group that slowly turns into an elite through bitter experience actually fits more with the gameplay.

      This does look pretty awful though, watching people get shot while flanked by giant mechs and taking a fraction of their hit-points doesn’t really scream desperate fight for survival against a technologically superior force to me.

      • hotmaildidntwork says:

        Are you suggesting that the shadowy, faceless figure that provides XCOM with funding and objectives would LIE?!?

        Seriously though, I’ve long suspected that XCOM is actually some sort of highly expendable force recon group where they throw all the dregs of various national militaries that would have been a liability in combat but couldn’t be discharged for various political and legal reasons.
        Think about it, these are people who, upon being shot at by an alien, will immediately panic, turn 90 degrees, and shoot the squad-mate crouching next to them.

  10. GAmbrose says:

    If you think Falling Skies is bad, try watching Extant…

    • Cinek says:

      hahaha :D
      Now that would make a material for incredibly boring game.

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        Harlander says:

        “Press X to assume that this completely unknown and totally alien species will feel kinship with you because your womb was the one it stole to replicate itself”

  11. Malfeas says:

    I disliked the series, even though I saw it’s appeal It has the same problem that The Walking Dead has: You can easily skip 40-60% of an episode, because between the boringly archetypical talks they have most of the time, slow pans over a region and long drawn out exchanges of looks there are still well written dialogues and interesting good-alright action sequences.
    But my main grievance is that both of these series could have told their story in 3-4 episodes per season, if they didn’t do this draw it out crap. I’ll take an episode of shows I like over a season of either show.

  12. SPCTRE says:

    Having seen the TV show, I’m pretty amazed that this is actually a thing. I mean, is this license really worth *anything*?

  13. trollomat says:

    Those ‘ by a bit I mean a lot’ jokes are surely getting a bit stale.

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      I was hoping they’d become acceptable again, in a retro sort of way. And by ‘hoping they’d become acceptable again, in a retro sort of way’ I mean ‘feeling a little stale myself this morning. Won’t happen again, chief.’

  14. cpt_freakout says:

    Man, those chrryssal… um, whatever their official name is are ugly. Anyway, I’m getting a game clone vibe of the kind I didn’t have since the golden age of Starcraft clones. I guess it’s indicative I don’t remember any of them, even though I did try quite a few, looking for a fix after I had grown bored with the original.

  15. scut says:

    Comparisons will be thrown around, but it seems pretty clear from the video that Falling Skies won’t be anywhere as good as XCOM. What is encouraging is that it has obviously paid attention to XCOM and recognizes it as the new benchmark. I think it’s good to set a high goal even at the risk of falling short.

  16. Solidstate89 says:

    Those are the worst uses of cover I’ve ever seen in a single video.

  17. BlackAlpha says:

    Friendly units shooting at other friendly units when they panic. Ugh, not again… That really pissed me off in XCOM. So I’m going to pass.

  18. Hensler says:

    This looks like more like a full-on XCom Total Conversion (remember those) than a knock-off. That engine and even some of the animations look like they were full lifted from the earlier preview builds.

  19. mbpopolano24 says:

    I love XCOM in any form and shape, so instant-buy for me!!

  20. Chaz says:

    I remember the TV series Dark Skies, which had JT Walsh and some other people in it. That was alright, and kind of XCOM like. No idea what Falling Skies is all about though.

  21. Premium User Badge

    FhnuZoag says:

    Looking at gameplay videos… wow, this is a total, complete clone of XCOM, isn’t it? They even stole the “blue area means you can move and shoot, yellow area means you end turn” UI stuff. This is nuts.

    link to youtu.be

  22. DrManhatten says:

    First two seasons were actually quiet alright and some of the music score definitely sounded shared between XCOM and Falling Skies. But then it started to become a bit silly.

  23. AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

    This actually made me excited, because I thought someone had made a XCom full conversion mod, which meant others might follow. Why must you trick me like this?