UFO Enemy Unknown

System: Amiga PC PSX
Developer: Mythos Games
Publisher: Microprose
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27 Mar 2015
UFO Enemy Unknown is also known as X-COM UFO Defense in USA, and X-COM Enemy Unknown for Playstation in Europe.

At the time of it's release, the game was set in the near future (the future back then, was 1999). Due to heightened reports of UFO encounters and sightings, the worlds major governing leaders meet in Geneva to discus the issue. Extraterrestrial Combat (X-COM) is born.

You take the role of everything X-COM.

The intro to the game isn't nothing spectacular, yet it tells the story well enough using comic book style cut scenes, with the backing of some heart exciting audio.

Choosing a difficulty from one (beginner) to five (expert), you are shown the Geoscape and a side panel. This is the main overview you will see a lot of during X-COM, so getting accustomed to the control panel on the right, is a priority (and thankfully very self explanatory, so quick to learn).

You choose the location of your first base (pro tip, choose an area surrounded by plenty of ground coverage), by navigating the Geoscape using the buttons on the right panel. Once you are satisfied with the location, give it name (pro tip 2, give your base names something indicative and memorable, to make transferring between bases easier later).

Now you can head into your base, and start getting to grips with the management and planning. Don't worry, this isn't as difficult as it sounds. The depth of XCOM is just perfect, overwhelming at first, yet you will confidently get to grips with everything within a game month or two.

You are in charge of finances, staff, building, expanding, manufacturing, researching, and equiping craft and soldiers.

Three Hangers, Three Aircrafts
You start of with two Interceptors, and a Transport craft. The Interceptors are your primary assault craft, so equipping them with the best fire power available is a must. The Transport craft ferry your X-COM ops to UFO crash sites, UFO landing sites, and Alien Terror Attacks.

As with Interceptors, you must also equip the Transport craft with fire power and equipment, only this time it's for your XCOM ops. (pro tip 3, always fill the Transporter with Soldier capacity, power in numbers plays an important part). The Transporter can hold a maximum of 14 XCOM ops. You can also have tanks aboard the Transporter, at a cost of losing four soldier slots per tank.

Technology and Manufacturing
There is a tech tree for you to uncover, by directing your scientists to research specific areas. To start with, only three items can be researched, until you start recovering aliens (dead or alive), their weapons and equipment, and even their craft. Over time, you will be able to research the most powerful available. Once you have researched a particular weapon, your soldiers will then be able to use recovered weapon stock, or even pick up a dead aliens weapon in the Battlescape, and use them as their own.

Completed research, will also allow your engineers to manufacture weapons and equipment. Manufactured weapons can also be sold to boost your much needed funds. Before you go all out plasma ammo making, you must take care to produce only what you need with the materials available. For example, Elerium 115 is a very scarce element, that can not be manufactured. (pro tip 4, build weapons en mass that don't use Elerium 115, eg Heavy Plasma, then sell for big cash).

Now the management of the game has been covered, return to the Geoscape, and await for a UFO sighting. This part of the game is done at a speed of around 5 seconds of game time, per real second. Thankfully you can speed this up as you see fit. Choice of speed is 5 seconds, 5 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, 12 hours, or a day (all per second in real time).

Once a UFO is spotted, send out an Interceptor. Once the two dots meet (one your Interceptor, one the UFO), the Geoscape zooms in, along with some high paced music to emphasise the importance of the dog fight. An overlay appears with some options, from tail UFO, cautious attack, to aggressive attack. You can also click to see the size of the UFO. As a general rule, the smaller the UFO, the more likely you will finish any ground battle with ease, in a short period of time.

If your Interceptor is getting seriously damaged, indicated by a top view of the interceptor changing colour from green to red, you can choose to disengage.

The dog fight can end in a few ways. The UFO can outrun the Interceptor. The Interceptor can destroy the UFO. The UFO can crash (hopefully on land, if in water than you lose the ability to recover anything). Finally, and most annoying if it ever does happen to you, the UFO can destroy the Interceptor.
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Any crashed or landed UFO's, you can send the Transporter to. Once the Transporter arrives at its destination, a splash screen accompanied with music, will wait for you to confirm the entering of the battle. This is an underrated confirmation, as while the Transporter is on route, I sometimes like to get snacks or a drink. Believe me, you will be doing the same once you get hooked.

Now its time to equip your XCOM ops with the weapons and equipment you stocked the transporter with, a two minute job max. Let the battle commence.

The Battlescape is in an isometric 2D view, no matter how basic you think this is, it actually works. Depending on the location of the mission, the Battlescape will reflect this. Desert, Snow, Rocky, Farmland, City etc.

You have to exit the soldiers one by one, from the Transporter, the soldiers near the exit will be able to move furthest from the craft. Exiting the craft is a tactical task in itself, as you don't yet know where the enemy is. Night or day, the enemy can only be spotted if there is a line of sight. Night missions, this line of sight is reduced a lot (hope you stocked flares).

In Battlescape mode, the game becomes turn based. The panel at the bottom of the screen holds all the important actions, without having to drill down into sub menus. Also within this panel, is stats for the current selected XCOM Op. Turn Units, Energy, Psi, and Health. Turn Units is the most important, as not only does this determine how far you can walk, they are also used to fire weapons.

So that you don't accidentally use to many Turn Units, the panel can toggle a reserve, so that you have enough Turn Units left for an auto shot, snap shot, or aimed shot.

If you leave enough Turn Units for a soldier, during the aliens turn, the soldier will use remaining Turn Units as reaction fire, should an alien appear in their sight (and range).

The Battlescape gameplay is probably better to be seen, than explained (see video). What you need to be aware of, is the more destructive you are, the fewer the alien artefacts you will recover. So refrain from tossing a grenade into every UFO room when you enter it, for maximum Elerium 115 recovery.

UFO Enemy Unknown

Near Xcom Wipeout
Gameplay Footage of a City Terror Attack

There are many types of alien you will encounter, a particular one that stands out, is an organic looking ED-209, actually a Reaper.

The more missions you play, the more you will become aware of what weapons are more efficient, against specific alien species (or pay attention to research results).

Without giving too many spoilers into the tech tree, if you see an alien do it, you can research and do it too (abilities, weapons, and equipment only).

Expanding and Funding
After a couple of months expanding manufacturing space, research space, and creating money from product sales, you should be looking into building additional bases. This is vital, as the more bases you have, the more land mass you can cover, which in turn keeps governments happy. You must keep the governing bodies of the world happy as practically possible, as these are the source of your primary funding.

Ignoring UFO's, or Alien Terror sites, will affect how a country funds you. Ignore these too often, and that country will withdraw it's funding completely.

This is the only gripe I have with UFO Enemy Unknown. As I personally become self sustaining within a few months, due to the sweatshops (manufacturing facilities with lots of engineers). Even though I can generate funding, to work independently without the governments of the world, losing all government funding ends the game anyway.

UFO Enemy Unknown is one of the greatest turn based games, ever released. You can easily put many hours into this game. Very enjoyable.

Recommended Specs

A 386 pc or better.
An AGA Amiga.
A Playstation.



Overall Score




Available on Steam and GOG.

Versions Tested
Amiga (ecs aga), PC