October 29, 2011 10:29 AM   Subscribe

Disappointed by the new, real time FPS direction of X-COM? Tired of waiting for Xenonauts? If you want your Laser Squad style squad based tactical action right now why not try Xenosquad?
posted by Artw (35 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Description: A Sci-Fi themed real time strategy game in 3D where you control a unit of robot soldiers use tactics to attack the monsters in 12 unique missions. Prepare yourself for boss battles where you have to not only use the special abilities of your XenoSquad but be tactical and make every move count towards winning.

Except for "sci-fi", none of that sounds like x-com at all. Real-time? 3D? Canned missions? Boss battles?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:32 AM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Man, you really don't want to click the X-COM link...
posted by Artw at 10:34 AM on October 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Xenosquad is pretty much an exact rip-off of Incubation: Battle Isle Phase Four, not X-COM. Go play Incubation. It's a great game.
posted by yifes at 10:39 AM on October 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

I bookmarked Xenosquad the other day for playing with at some point but haven't actually dipped into yet. What's the real-time aspect of it? I had gotten the impression that the core gameplay was in fact classic turn-based grid tactics.

In any case, I'm not tired of waiting for Xenonauts yet, especially since I pre-ordered so I've been able to see and play with incremental builds of the game. It's bizarre that it took fifteen years for someone to finally remake X-Com in the manner of one who has their shit together, but I'm really glad that Chris England and his motley Goldhawk crew are filling the bill. Shame the main website for the game got pummeled into submission recently with the whole "another indie game gets fucked by Paypal" dilemma and concomitant storm of traffic, but it was a bit twitchy to begin with so the proper rebuild they've said they're up to is probably for the best anyway.

Man, you really don't want to click the X-COM link...

It's like finding out that your beloved deceased dog was brought back to life, but as a Butt Terrier whose face is now a butt and all he does all day is poop out of his butt face.
posted by cortex at 10:49 AM on October 29, 2011 [15 favorites]

i never got what the big deal was about xcom

@cortex "butt terrier" you should send that in to kc green, maybe he'll do a comic about it
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:55 AM on October 29, 2011

X-com has been one of the very very few games that frightened the shit out of me. Playing it at one am with that music playing, landing a shuttle with your best squad to investigate an alien infestion, only for some psionic @#$% to posses that one guy with the rocket launcher and blow up two-thirds of your men...
posted by MartinWisse at 11:03 AM on October 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

And here I was hoping that Xenonauts would be a sequel to Psychonauts.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:16 AM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mother of fuck, what the hell have they done to the X Com idea? I kept skipping through it after reading the description waiting for the RTS part. And the comments worried me , because someone said "Don't worry, someone got the 'Sydnicate' IP Rights and they're killing that game too.'
posted by cavalier at 11:28 AM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, you hadn't heard?
posted by cortex at 11:35 AM on October 29, 2011

As far as I can tell Syndicate accidentally managed to copy every surface of Deus Ex without any of the depth and so will forever be doomed to being "the less good Deus Ex".
posted by Artw at 11:36 AM on October 29, 2011

*Swings cane like mad* Syndicate on Amiga was like my favoritistististi game ever. Lemmings was up there, too.
posted by cavalier at 11:53 AM on October 29, 2011

Xenosquad is fun but gets a bit easy/dull in the the later levels, because the tactics become
Put a guy on overwatch diagonally next to each vent so he melees the small aliens (you need the assault rifle with bayonet) as they emerge, while the big power-armour guy trundles about gradually destroying the vents.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:57 AM on October 29, 2011

Syndicate Plus and X-Com make me real, real cane swing-y. X-Com was the first game I ever played for more than like eight-hour spans. On my wealthier friend's computer. I have it on Boxer now, and play it through every year or so.

I'm very depressed about the FPS. And another friend recommended Frozen Synapse to me as a modern replacement, which only made me more depressed.
posted by Earthtopus at 12:00 PM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Frozen Synapse is a really fun little game in its own right; like a lot of things that have otherwise done a good job of replicating the squad-tactics magic of X-Com, it doesn't work as a real replacement because there's no metagame component and no really chilling atmosphere, but for just plain shooting at a friend in discrete chunks of time it's been a source of great laugh-out-loud fun for me in small spurts.

Likewise, Ghost Recon: Shadow Complex is a great little squad tactics game for the 3DS made by Julian "The reason we're even having this converstation" Gollop. Metagame is paper thin and wrapped in Tom Clancy's trope sweater, but that has bugged me not at all because it's great turn-based fun.
posted by cortex at 12:37 PM on October 29, 2011

You know, trying to play that Laser Squad game I played it really does show how much easier it is to play this kind of thing with a mouse instead of a joystick, and much less tolerable multiple levels of selection menu to do anything are to me now.

On the other hand, you get to buy missile launchers from level 1, and in fact can finish that mission in one turn if you just load everyone up with them then level the mansion.

Xenosquad is pretty much an exact rip-off of Incubation: Battle Isle Phase Four

I always thought of that as "The Laser Squad rp off that sunk the otherwise great Battle Isles franchise", but I have to admit I never played the thing.
posted by Artw at 12:58 PM on October 29, 2011

The handheld systems seems to have all of the new isometric tactical games, both from the X-Com lineage (above mentioned GR: Shadow Complex) and all the Final Fantasy: Tactics-esque games that come out of the Japan.

However, there doesn't seem to be much crossover between handheld gamers and old PC gamers. I don't have a handheld, but my partner does. I played X-Com. She plays Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes. Our gaming doesn't overlap that often, but there's a lot more similarity there than either of us would initially expect.
posted by thecjm at 1:01 PM on October 29, 2011

I specifically got a DS a few years ago because that was where all the tactics and throwback RPGs were. Haven't gotten Clash of Heroes yet; should probably finish Infinite Space and maybe The Dark Spire first, and also play through an Advance Wars or two (never gotten around to that).
posted by furiousthought at 1:17 PM on October 29, 2011

Oooh... the Google Chrome ad seems to have been replaced by some Evony type nonsense. It wasn't doing that before, honest!
posted by Artw at 1:20 PM on October 29, 2011

I always thought of that as "The Laser Squad rp off that sunk the otherwise great Battle Isles franchise", but I have to admit I never played the thing.

Incubation plays nothing like laser squad. It's more Space Hulk than Laser Squad. If you want to know what Incubation plays like, well Xenosquad basically copied the exact gameplay, mechanics, enemies, weapons, and pretty much everything else from Incubation.
posted by yifes at 1:38 PM on October 29, 2011

At the rabid suggestion of the illustrious Porkfry I've been playing a fair amount of the little IOS game Hunters: Episode One. It's got a bit of that X-Com / Jagged Alliance tactical battles crossed with Space Hulk feel that I enjoy so much, but it's unfortunately still much shallower than those games. I wish more of the DS and 3DS tactical games made their way to IOS; turn-based games seem like such an excellent fit for the platform.
posted by lantius at 1:40 PM on October 29, 2011

For another good sci-fi squad tactics martian blaster, check out the UFO: After(x) series - Aftermath, Aftershock and the most recent, Afterlight. The gameplay is pretty decent, altho you may find a much more expanded and rebalanced game after modding it a bit.. I recommend the Total Rebalance mod (top o' the list) for expanded tech trees, weaponry and research, differently balanced alien uprising and attacks, and a more involved wounding/fatality system for your squaddies. Pretty excellent stuff!
posted by FatherDagon at 1:46 PM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not entirely sure I buy it, but someone makes the case here for Gossop being the originator of the Space Hulk boardgame style of play and therefore this entire subgenre.
posted by Artw at 2:04 PM on October 29, 2011

Silent Storm and Silent Storm: Sentinels are tactical turn based games and still quite fun, though lacking the xeno charm and strategic elements. Still, x-com had a better atmosphere and sense of creeping doom due to the dynamic campaign.
posted by mapinduzi at 3:37 PM on October 29, 2011

There is also Jagged Alliance 2, which is a great little tactical game with some light rpg elements and resource management and all that. It is being actively supported by a community that has among other things completely rewritten the game. There is a large number of excellent mods and new content. It is definitely worth checking even if you didn't play it back when it was originally released.
posted by Authorized User at 3:55 PM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

You know, I love X-Com, Laser Squad and I'll take you all on at Chaos, but I still feel that we need to give this new XCOM a chance. It wasn't too long ago that Fallout fans were ABSOLUTELY LIVID that their beloved franchise was going 3D, and that turned out okay. Maybe we'll be pleasantly surprised.

And as people are recommending games to scratch the X-Com itch, I'm going to do the same and recommend Earth Reborn. There's also Target Earth, but I don't have a copy of that yet so I can't (yet) recommend it.
posted by liquidindian at 4:11 PM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

See also the in-development Jagged Alliance sequel, which may or may not fuck up the core turn-based aspect of the gameplay but is otherwise probably not going to be anything like the sort of WTF franchise derail that the AAA X-Com and Syndicate reboots represent.

It wasn't too long ago that Fallout fans were ABSOLUTELY LIVID that their beloved franchise was going 3D, and that turned out okay.

Much of what made Fallout 3 turn out okay was its strengths in a new medium despite the things it fundamentally abandoned about the original. I played a bunch of F3 and liked it, but (a) it lacked entirely the density of construction and quirk of the originals, even with its sprawling, Elder Scrolls-like open world, and (b) it lacked largely the consistency of characterization in what does exist in the game. Fallout 1 and 2 were relatively small but packed with a sense of post-war wonder; F3 feels much of the time like you're wandering through a wasteland that is as big as it is mostly for the sake of being big, and is inexplicably busy with random nasties mostly to compensate for the uselessness that comes with that big-for-its-own-sake feeling.

Bethesda made a really great open-world wasteland but lost a lot of the specific sense of place that the originals had and a lot of the RPG flexibility of play. New Vegas recovered a little ground there, which was nice, but what the new Fallout franchise is is a good kind of game despite its failure to be what the originals were. Both the breadth and the pacing of the decisions you could make in the originals are diminished in the new games, for all the modern goodness they added in the process. Voice acting logistics alone doomed the new games to pale in comparison to their predecessors on the key basis of interactive discourse.

It's possible the X-Com and Syndicate reboots will be good games in their own right as well, but they are looking like they're significantly farther from their source material than even the Fallout reboot. Which is what it is, but from a fandom point of view the damning thing is that there's no need to drag beloved IP through the dirt like that: make an awesome new shooter and name it anything else, and throw your millions in marketing at it anyway. The embittered old-school fanboys of the original won't be pissed off, and people who don't know the old franchise from Adam will like your shootery trailer just as much.
posted by cortex at 7:34 PM on October 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

When I was a kid, I played the original X-Com so much it was starting to become disruptive. Eventually, I zipped up the whole game in a password protected archive with a heinously long random string of characters as a password. I wrote the password on a little slip of paper and stuck it underneath a set of Baoding Balls so that if I wanted to play, I would have to think about it first.

I went to the X-Com booth at PAX - it was the best one there. They set it up in the theme of the movie and had no obvious branding at all. You had no idea what game they were advertising. They had actors playing cold war agents and doctors subject you to all these kind of weird tests and imply you were a communist. Then they shuffled you into a small room and a little nerdy radar O'reilly type printed you a special ID card. It was awesome.

I was disappointed that they made it an FPS, but I actually really liked that 20 minute gameplay idea. I think it can be an interesting re-imagining of they idea. I tried UFO: Aftershock, and it just seemed like a tedious, pale copy of X-Com. I'm willing to withhold judgement until I actually try it. Still, I'm really glad someone is making Xenonauts.

The new Syndicate looks horrible, though.
posted by heathkit at 9:29 PM on October 29, 2011

Incubation - the original inspiration for this, I'm pretty sure - was indeed a great game, althought it was more of a puzzle game rather than tactics. There were a couple missions that only had one solution, one way of moving your squad in order to win it, and the only challenge was to figure out that solution. Puzzle, not tactics.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 11:12 PM on October 29, 2011

there's no need to drag beloved IP through the dirt like that

I'm afraid that X-Com has already been dragged through the dirt, the mud, and the manure. If it's merely mediocre then it's still going to be better than the last few X-Com games.
posted by liquidindian at 4:48 AM on October 30, 2011

XenoSquad is a remake of Incubation Time Is Running Out (1997, 3dfx Voodoo, ..). Do you remember? :D
posted by Flusty at 5:33 AM on October 30, 2011

Jagged Alliance Reboot Not Turn-Based
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on October 31, 2011

Has anyone out there messed around with the xcom util stuff out there for the original version? I have this vague understanding that it fixes most of the original problems eg adds multiple paths to victory, makes it so you don't have to load the weapons on each guy every damn time your run the mission, makes you able to have more stuff etc. I just haven't borthered to surmount the learning curve that seems to be associated with it.
posted by Chekhovian at 10:22 AM on October 31, 2011

I played with it some a few years back and remember finding it not horrible to set up and nice in the way it fixed some annoyances and mixed up encounter maps and such, yeah. If you want to spend some time with X-Com again I'd say it's worth getting it set up. Wouldn't be surprised if it's darned close to painless to get a default setup going at this point.
posted by cortex at 10:53 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

So this is so you never find yourself marching out of the ship with no ammo?
posted by Artw at 10:59 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Things like that, yeah, and a saner starting base configuration that doesn't feed potential invading aliens into the base as efficiently as goddam possible, and IIRC ordering your troops in a drop so you don't have the whole command staff marching out the door first to get shot, and mixing up the layout of encounter maps and producing random alien ship configurations, and and and. A lot of stuff in there, configurable as to what you use and what you don't.
posted by cortex at 11:01 AM on October 31, 2011

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