Did you know the X-Com series had a weird, third-person shooter? I sure didn’t. But apparently I bought it at some point in a classic X-Com game bundle. This was my first draw in the Steam Roulette, so I am obligated to see what it’s all about. Let’s see how it lives up to the rich, tactical, alien-murdering strategy that the series is known for.
Release Date: (NA) April 18, 2001, (EU) October 26, 2001
Before starting out on this adventure, I did what any good PC gamer would do and went straight to the game options to tweak my graphics settings. The default resolution was 800 x 600, which was a bit of an eye sore and in need of an increase. I only hope my GTX 1070 can handle this task.
After you select single player to start this rich campaign, you have to pick a “skin” for your character. These are simple color swaps on top of a hulking, odd robot looking dude. I chose this badass looking black and red skin. The character model still looks pretty dumb though.
Once I completed the expansive character creation, I was dropped into a cut-scene where some scientist was expositing at me. This scientist explains that he created me (The Enforcer) to defeat the hordes of aliens attacking. I kind of thought this is what the whole X-Com program was for. The Wikipedia entry for the game explains that this takes place in an alternate time line from the main games. Well okay. There’s not more story to be told here, so it’s time to enter the action.
Through the tutorial level and the following missions, the scientist will continue to chime in and yell at you every few seconds. It gets kind of grating fast, because the game assumes you need help when really you’re just exploring or looking for collectibles. It also doesn’t help that the character sounds like somebody reading lines in some kind of stereotypical nerdy sounding scientist voice with a speech impediment.
ADVENTURES IN ALIEN LAW ENFORCEMENT
The missions are pretty straightforward. You are given one or two objectives and then dropped into a fairly linear stage. These objectives could be “Destroy X alien transponders” or “Rescue Y citizens”. The stages are chock full of aliens that take issue with you pursuing these goals, so you’ll have to take them down with your massive array of weapons (though you can only hold two at a time). Enemies are typical X-Com fare and look like the ones you would be shooting in squads strategically in another timeline.
While you are slaying extra-terrestrials and breaking open wooden boxes, you are picking up “Data Points”. Between levels you get to use those hard earned Data Points on upgrades for your Enforcer. This stuff is prohibitively expensive. I didn’t see an option of repeating past levels for points so I guess you have to make some hard decisions here. Note that all of the gray squares and circles are locked upgrades. You’ve got to find these upgrades hidden somewhere in the levels to have the privilege of spending your points fortune on them. How generous!
Speaking of collecting, if you collect all of the hidden B-O-N-U-S letters in a level, you have the privledge of going to a bonus level afterwards for more data points. I wasn’t particularly enjoying the levels I was playing, but I was driven by a foolish sense of completionism to track down the letters. Fortunately, the levels I played were fairly linear and these letters weren’t too difficult to track down.
In one bonus level I was tasked with the heroic feat of breaking a bunch of wooden crates for data points. In another I received my reward by being dropped in this top-down maze reminsicient of Pac-man, where I was immediately swarmed by tens of aliens and murdered.
The controls were kind of a hot mess. To give an idea of how old this game is, the movement keys were mapped to the arrow keys on default, not WASD. Fortunately, the game gives you the option to re-map, so I changed my setup to something more contemporary. However, X-com Enforcer doesn’t seem to know what to do with the mouse. You can aim with the mouse by holding down the right mouse button which creates a reticle on the screen that you can move, but that seems to be about it. I couldn’t tell how to assign a free-look to the mouse, so my character was doomed to charge forward with a stiff neck, since I refused to use keyboard inputs dedicated to “Look Up” and “Look Down”.
I AM THE LAST ENFORCER STANDING
With only a few minutes in the hour left and having just wrapped up another single-player level, I decided to exit out to the menu and try multiplayer for kicks. I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that this would not pan out to anything, and I was kind of afraid to meet somebody else who was actually on here still playing. After making sure my internet connection settings were up to date, I sought out a match.
My hypothetical fears were unfounded, however, as the game couldn’t find the Gamespy server that hosts the multiplayer matches. Does Gamespy even still exist?? Anyway, don’t look for this game at any eSports competitions any time soon.
FINAL RATING: Maybe Later…
It wasn’t outright terrible, but it’s definitely not a priority. It was decent while it lasted, anyway, and seems like it should be a short romp.