Topic: UFO:AI- interesting free game on Sourceforge for you turn based squad fans!  (Read 897 times)

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Offline EschelonOfJudgemnt

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So, being a fan of turn  based games like Space Hulk, especially free ones (Alien Assault being a decent emulation of the SH experience), and with all of the hype around XCOM, I came across an 'XCOM inspired' game, UFO:AI, via Sourceforge.

Anyways, this is a fairly (really?) well developed game, using the bones of the Quake 2 Engine (heavily modified) to create a really interesting turn based squad experience, with a nice overarching campaign - i.e. capture aliens and their technology to advance your own, all while defending Earth from the alien menace, with a liimited budget and whatever resources you can cannibalize from alien craft.

It's a pretty big download (over a gig), and the campaign takes a while to play through (since I like to micromanage, my current campaign has been taking several days to play through, still plugging away), but I am enjoying this a lot.  The AI is fairly competent, although aliens act as individuals, not so much as a hive mind, they are pretty powerful individually and can kill a soldier outright when they get you in their sights.  Soldiers advance in skill if they survive their missions, and as their strength/power advances they can carry more equipment more easily, so you can get rather attached to your more experienced members.

What is lacking is a rather comprehensive manual (since the game is 'still in develpment'), so some of the stuff you learn by trial and error or via extensive searching/reading of the UFO:AI forum, but overall I've really been enjoying this game.  First person shooters give me nausea after a bit, plus I'm older now so I enjoy turn based games a lot more.  Or SFC...

Another nice thing is a large variety of maps which are generated via the missions presented to you via the global geoscape map in the campaign, so you never (or not quite) know what the terrain will be when you send troops to a mission.  Or when the aliens decide to invade your base (in that instance the base layout is based on where you put stuff as you built your base)...

Shooting down UFO's on the Geoscape map is a great way to generate more missions, but those interceptors aren't cheap and take a while to replace when they get shot down, so use those wisely, and in pairs/groups when appropriate, to avoid losses...

Base management is also interesting, as you can't do everything at once, at least not well.  So scraping together the cash for more bases, so that  you can have each specialize in particular roles, and also to cover more of the globe (your radar/reaction range is limited to the base's radar footprint) makes for another interesting element.  More interceptors/dropships, labs or workshops?  You decide...

Onsite base defense installations (SAMs, Lasers) are limited to one each, and are rather weak but do occasionally shoot down UFO's that stray near your base, so they aren't completely useless.  More shot down UFO's by groundfire = less risk to interceptors = more missions.

Maintenance costs & salaries count against your budget, so again you can't just go willy nilly with the construction of base and other remote installations (radar, sams, ufo scrapyards).  Plus, you need to keep your benefactors (the various national alliances) happy, so that you can maximize your income...

There is skirmish mode for those looking for 'one off' experiences, and there is a multiplayer mode as well.

I've never played XCOM, so I can't comment on the differences between the two games, but the developers have made an effort (they say) to make their own game as opposed to a direct clone.  Based on this experience, I'll probably grab one of the XCOM games if it ever appears on GOG (it's on Steam but Steam annoys me).

The graphics are a bit dated (game engine) but work quite well for this game.  A LOT of models have been incorporated into the various maps.

Overall, for a FREE game, this is a REALLY impressive effort!

Anyways, if this sounds interesting to you, here is the link to their site.
http://ufoai.org/wiki/About