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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Microprose
What the game is about:
You have been promoted to Commander of X-COM and are now responsible for the citizens of Mega-Primus. Sounds easy, right? It would be if the aliens hadn't begun to return. Upon your investigation of the newly appeared Dimension Gates, it becomes apparent that the aliens are at it again and you will be responsible for the outcome of the upcoming battle.

X-Com: Apocalypse has the feel of a work in progress. As Microprose's third game from the series, we expected to see them remake the game we all love. We got some new features, but we lost some of what made the game enjoyable.

The graphics are gorgeous and semi-realistic, the 3D effects are getting better. Microprose has taken the game to a new level with this. The blue spitters look like blue spitters. The brain suckers look like brain suckers. The snasberries taste like snasberries...

One of the new features that X-Com: Apocalypse is touting is that you have the option of playing your combats in real time. This might have been a bad idea except that they have redone the AI (artificial intelligence) routines. This was needed to make your agents semi intelligent, with more than the ability to get from point 'a' to point 'b'. Your agents will not only move to point 'b' but they will fire on anything they can. In addition, running, jumping and crawling have been added to all your characters' repertoires, and they dodge incoming fire with a modicum of 'intelligence'. They also 'dodge' incoming proximity grenades before they go BOOM!

Another new feature is that armor can be bought - and worn - piecemeal. (A Metropol helmet, a Marsec chest-armor-section, an alien right-arm segment ... you get the idea.) This, along with some new ideas for items and your interaction with them, has once again taken the game to the next level of realism. This is complemented by the fact that you can now train your characters outside of combat!

On the bad side, though, the old turn-based mode for combat has either been gutted or was added as an afterthought. Crouching now takes 6 Time Units (as opposed to 4 in previous games), and movement costs have also been increased. To its credit, though, running does halve the TU (Time Units) cost for most movements, and inventory management no longer takes any Time Units. But while a character is in running MODE their accuracy, even on aimed shots, drops to near-zero.

Outside of combat, the time controls are now extremely clumsy. Gone are the old, reliable Time Buttons of <5 Sec>, <30 Sec>, <1 Min>, <10 Min>, <30 Min>, <1 Hr>, and <1 Day>. Instead, they are replaced with annoying VCR-fast-forward-type buttons, plus a 'pause' button. Given that the physical scope of the game has been reduced to one city, the temporal scope should be reduced proportionally, but that is not the case here. The first four buttons barely pass the seconds along, while the last button runs time by in HOUR-LONG SEGMENTS!

A more minor quibble is that the isometric view, while it can be scrolled, cannot be rotated or zoomed. A rotation/zoom feature should have been added, a la Dungeon Keeper or Syndicate Wars, since the game took long enough to be released . Even a limited rotation function such as that in SimCity 2000 (i.e. 90 degrees at a time) would have been better than nothing. The difficulty of not having one is that you lack the ability to see on the other side of the 15 story building.

A much more major complaint is the game's difficulty level. Even on Easy mode, your characters could not hit the broad side of several skyscrapers. Even when you seem assured of a hit, the aliens just dance out of the way. However, the aliens hit, shoot-to-kill, first time and every time. If you've done something right in a past life, and you actually manage to hit an alien, he (she? It?) will simply laugh off your shot, and nail you with one of his own. I once took 32 hits to kill one enemy ... Never mind how many misses it took.

On a plot element, I could understand gangs like Psyke, Osiron, and the Cult of Sirius having pistols, Tommy-guns (or the game's modernized version thereof), and maybe even the odd plasma weapon, but where do spazzed-out Psiclone addicts get rocket launchers and laser-rifles? (Psiclone is the brand-name of the game's worst - and only - street drug ... whatever happened to cocaine, marijuana, or heroin? (sigh) Kids these days ...)

Buying items has also become sort of a chore. Your General Storage rooms must be getting a lot smaller, since it only takes about one-tenth the equipment it did before to fill them up. That's OK, though, since the equipment manufacturers will now only sell you a few items per game-week! That means, even if you can afford it, some of your characters will have to go without weapons, or worse yet, without armor! They could have made this feature a little more intelligent. Being able to keep an inventory of 10 clips of xxx ammo should be automated and my agents should be intelligent enough to make sure that they have ammo. Currently you have to give them tons of ammo (drops their movement capabilities) or go through and put ammo on them (very annoying and time consuming) after every mission.

The sound is almost top-notch, even on my El' cheapo sound-card. Plus, the sounds are in stereo, so you can tell where they came from if you listen closely. In the real-time mode, the sound will even 'tell' you where the enemies are. (Deathmatch players will excel at this 'art'.) Despite interface problems, a really good time at a great price.