Thirteen years ago, a little game called X-COM: UFO Defense debuted, pitting players against alien invaders and charging them with creating a network of bases around the globe, shooting down UFOs, capturing and researching alien technology, and then using it against the aliens in turn-based tactical squad combat. That’s the formula UFO: Extraterrestrials follows almost to the letter, falling just short of being a direct remake of X-COM.
But don’t get too excited—the second coming of X-COM is not yet among us. UFO is rife with shortcomings and bugs (especially if you don’t mod it) that make it inferior to its inspiration at almost every turn. Graphics are a major weak point. While all of the environments and aliens are rendered in crude 3D, your squad members are, inexplicably, 2D sprites. UFO also suffers from a shortage of tactical maps; X-COM uses randomly generated maps to keep encounters unpredictable, but you’ll know UFO’s maps like the back of your hand after a couple of hours. At least the environment is destructible—you can demolish nearly everything, given enough firepower.
In a bizarre design decision, your soldiers are all but immortal; even the most lethal alien weapons can’t inflict more than a month’s hospital stay on them. On one hand, this means you don’t lose your experienced soldiers easily (which is nice because green troops are nearly useless against late-game aliens), but if the aliens manage to incapacitate your entire squad on a mission or shoot down the troop transport en route, you lose the entire squad. Replacement troops trickle in only once or twice a month, leaving you almost completely defenseless. Game over.
That said, X-COM fans are sure to enjoy UFO. With some mods applied (we recommend the FrankenMod, which so easily improves UFO that the game’s developers should be embarrassed), this is the best X-COM clone to come along in a decade. And as sad as that is, it’s nice that someone’s still trying to recapture the magic.
It's like X-COM! Hooray! Destructible environments; mods offer vast improvement.
Repetitive maps; weak graphics; pretty lame before mods. Not X-COM.