I’m still haunted by visions of a parallel world (classified as Xbox 360) as it wasn’t long ago that I was in charge of the XCOM project and led a squadron of soldiers against an alien army. Soldiers I grew attached too, including the first Colonel who helped lead us to many victories.
Col. Carrie “Chops” Welsh, a name that I’ll never forget.
As commander, I led her and the rest of my squadron on many successful missions as it seemed as if we had an upper hand on the enemy. However, not long after, our run of successful missions came to an end as we came across a new alien technology. And missions weren't the only thing I lost. I had one mission where I lost my entire squadron, except for “Chops," who had seven kills and saved a VIP all by herself. There was also a mission that had no hope for survival, though Col. Welsh made it back because of the two remaining squad members who bravely created a barrier, allowing her to escape. Those soldiers knew that there would have been no hope of winning this war without her.
Even with all the success and all the sacrifice, sadly, a couple of missions later and after a careful approach, I lost her to a surprise attack and eventually lost the war. The XCOM project was dismantled and I quickly left that world, learning a lot from the experience.
I know that my past experience will help me on this new battle that’s about to begin on this world, classified as iOS. The same thing is about to happen again, and thankfully from my past experience, I should have a bit of an edge on them.
And so it begins! Again.
I’m very much anticipating playing this new iOS version of XCOM after having fallen in love with the console version. It’s been quite a while since I’ve played the game, though, so a lot of things are going to feel fresh as I begin my new journey on the iPad.
I just watched the opening presentation and am now listening to the fantastic menu music that has me feeling even more excited as I write this. I’ve missed this game!
I’m presented with an option of difficulty. I won’t go the Easy route and there's no way I can do the Impossible difficulty. So, it’s either Normal or Classic, and Classic is identified for experienced XCOM players only. I’m going to make things interesting; hello, Classic difficulty! I hope this doesn’t turn out to be a mistake, going with a higher difficulty level, especially since I haven’t played it in so long. It should provide for an interesting Commander's Log, though!
The question of whether or not we are alone in the universe has just been answered as something comes crashing down to Earth, causing panic in the streets. And, as I have foreseen, I have now been chosen to lead the XCOM project. I am the Commander!
First Taste of Action
Here we go with the first mission, an alien sighting in Mexico. It’s my squad’s duty to sweep the area and neutralize all enemy hostiles. It didn’t take long for me to remember why I love this game so much in the first place, watching the aircraft take us to locations, seeing the battlefield and moving my soldiers strategically while hunting down the alien invaders. Also, I totally dig the intense feeling when moving forward on the battlefield without knowing the exact enemy location.
Getting back out in the field is great, even though I don't have my best performance. I lost one soldier on my first mission while killing six enemies. I also had a nice laugh while watching three aliens come crashing onto the street by jumping through windows and then immediately jumping back into the same building that they just jumped out of. These aliens are crazy!
I’m finally getting the rundown of the XCOM headquarters and then I'm sent to the barracks to promote two of my soldiers; sniper, Holly Taylor and heavy gunner, Raul Ruiz. I think I’ll avoid using real names during my playthrough. Yes, I know. Where's the fun in that? I still don't want to kill my friends. Yet.
Research time! I have three projects available, including xeno-biology to learn more about the alien race, weapons fragments to better understand their weapons and help better develop ours, and alien materials to build better armor for my soldiers.
I want better weapons! Time to complete that project.
Even though it looks small, I forgot how big the XCOM headquarters feels with all the different scientific projects, engineering projects, and everything else that needs to be managed like your UFO interceptors, soldiers, and facilities. There is so much going on here and every little bit of it is extremely important to being successful. It's almost overwhelming at times, having to carefully manage every area and making sure I bring back materials to work on further projects.
Bravery Turns To Panic
Now I’m back to mission control, scanning for activity. I’ve come across three abduction sites in Argentina, Germany, and India. Germany and India are listed as easy and moderate on the difficulty, and the panic level of both countries is low, with Argentina already showing two five panic bars. The mission in Argentina is also difficult. I could take the easier route and earn some money or engineers as a reward, or I could take the difficult route and receive 4 scientists as a reward.
Well, I’m feeling brave during this playthrough, so I am going with the difficult mission based in Argentina. Hopefully I can calm the panic there.
I’m playing the mission cautiously but my guys just don’t know how to shoot. These soldiers keep missing their shots, and the enemy simply outguns us. I’m down to one remaining soldier, who just got hit, putting him down to his final health bar. He panics and somehow shoots and kills the alien who shot him, after missing time and time again before that. Now the final alien misses and I am fed up with this crap shooting accuracy, so I charge the alien and throw a grenade at him. Boom! Mission over.
I may have calmed the panic in Argentina, but my team certainly didn’t handle the situation calmly at all. They panicked on multiple occasions and I ended up losing three of my four soldiers in this mess, with my remaining soldier down to his last health bar.
Holly Taylor, the sniper, scored a kill during this mission, but unfortunately, she died soon after. Newcomer Nick Dunn took 6 of the 8 kills in that mission and was the only one to survive. I think he’ll be around for a while, after having this type of experience, he’ll be the soldier on the field that leads me to countless victories! He’s out for 15 days, though, while he heals from his injuries.
While panic decreased in Argentina, it increased in Asia and Europe.
Shootin' Down UFOs and Clearing The Crash Site
Now, I’m back at XCOM headquarters. Weapons research is completed and it’s time to begin a project on experimental warfare, allowing us to learn even more about the alien technology to use in our own weapons.
I’m now encountering my first UFO contact in the southern United States; time to scramble an interceptor! It's so much fun watching my aircraft takeoff on their mission to hunt down a UFO. Also, you know what? I wish I could name my pilots! GO MAVERICK!
Anyway, I shoot down the UFO, sustaining heavy damage to my own aircraft. Another reminder of why I love this game: the control room full of cheers when the UFO goes down. Now it’s time to send a ground unit to the UFO site.
Hopefully this mission goes a lot better. I’m going to be a lot more aggressive with my approach, making sure I provide even higher percentage shots for my soldiers. I hope this pays off!
I get super aggressive with the first alien, killing him right away, forcing the second alien to fall back. I quickly gained ground on the second alien and set the two guys behind him to overwatch. The alien moves out on his next turn and my two overwatch troopers take care of business, killing it. I’m now coming across a new alien that came out from within the ship, an alien of almost pure energy. As it moves out, the two soldiers shoot it, taking it down to 1 health bar. However, it kills one of my soldiers during its next move. I finish it off right after, though.
It sucks when you lose a soldier, but especially when it comes down to one health bar on that alien and then it survives to get a shot off, taking out one of your own.
Bah, I miss on a 65% chance shot which leads to the death of another soldier. She was in a somewhat covered position, but I let the alien get a clear shot from the side. Now I’m getting aggressive again and charging both aliens who are in close proximity to each other. I pull out a grenade and say goodnight. My soldiers have killed 5 aliens and secured the crash site, but I still lost two of my team members in the process.
Elise Leroy got 4 kills in this, her first mission, and is now assigned to sniper class. I think I have a team building here, with Elise and Nick Dunn, two strong soldiers with good first missions. Let’s keep it going and not lose any more soldiers. Elise wasn’t hurt in this mission, so I think her and Nick will be active in the next round.
The Mission Where It All Goes My Way
The United Kingdom, along with most of Europe, is already at three bars on the panic meter. There is an abduction site in Manchester and so I am sending a team there now. Mission difficulty is Very Difficult, so I hope Leroy and Dunn can put together a strong assault on the alien targets. Reward is $200 dollars, which I could really use to buy more satellites, squad armor, and weapons.
It’s a windy, rainy night in Manchester, almost kind of spooky as I move my squad from vehicle to vehicle on the city streets. I come across aliens almost immediately. My lead soldier takes a hit with the first alien shot; one more and he’s done. I move him closer to throw a grenade, taking out the two lead aliens. The initial explosion only kills one, though the second alien, hiding behind a car, launched into the air as the car exploded. I don’t recall ever seeing an alien go flying quite that high! I'm going to make all you aliens become little miniature UFOs!
Beautiful! I have Leroy set up on overwatch, behind a car, and an alien comes forward into her sights, letting her snipe it from a distance! Goodbye, alien! Best shot so far from this playthrough. I love setting up snipers on overwatch. It helps better protect my frontline soldiers.
Scary moment; I’m playing it safe, keeping my soldiers back on overwatch. However, since nothing is happening, I’m pushing my soldier with low health forward and he comes across two aliens who have overwatch on his position. Thankfully, both aliens miss on their shots. However, they are lined up for a perfect shot on their next turn, so I position my other soldiers in a way to attack the aliens without giving up another turn. I launch a grenade over a truck, it lands on their position, and one alien goes down. The other alien has one life bar left, so I take another soldier to get a wide angle shot on him. Thankfully, my soldier hits him, surely saving my other soldier's life. This is intense.
Haha, wow! I forgot that an alien snuck into a truck and has been patiently waiting there for me to move. I finally move right past it, watching it shoot because it is on overwatch. It’s an up close shot and yet it misses! So lucky! He is lined up for shots on two of my guys, including Leroy, but I’m having a soldier throw a grenade into the truck to end the round, which he does.
That’s ten aliens killed and zero soldiers lost! HOORAH!
Of course, after that successful mission, calming the panic in the UK by 2, China goes into full panic with five red bars, the highest amount. Maybe I’ll use some of my reward money to buy a satellite to send up over China to calm things a bit. I’ll need to order a few interceptors to have over there as well so that UFO’s can’t shoot down the satellite.
Stay tuned for part 2, in which even the best efforts by the XCOM team aren't enough to save the world.