Thursday, February 5, 2009

Freeware Strategy Games Update: UFO: AI January Development News

This is one of the best birthday gifts I've received this day: January updates from the folks developing UFO: Alien Invasion, a Quake 2 engine-powered freeware strategy game.

>> What's this freeware strategy game all about?

IMO, before one can call himself a borderline classic gamer, there are three games one should play for each of the prominent genres of PC video gaming (there are other genres of course but I stick to these three due to time constraints; managing projects and playing RPGs don't exactly mix well). These are:

  • Half-life (for the first-person shooter genre)
  • Total Annihilation (for the real-time strategy genre)
  • X-COM (for the turn-based strategy genre)
Certainly, there are a lot of games out there that are older and for some, better than the games I've mentioned but certainly, none have garnered the massive amount of positive reviews and legions of fans than those three games. (Other might argue that Dune is the better game than TA but I haven't heard of a Dune sequel - TA has Supreme Commander and it has legions of fans playing a freeware incarnation of it.)

UFO: AI is based on the last classic game I've mentioned and as such does have a hefty clout. And while it may be far from complete, it definitely plays well; I've actually played immersive, hours-long sessions with it some months back. I've stopped playing to wait for version v2.3 though. Hopefully, they can implement base assaults in this one.

Here are some interesting updates for January (for the full changelog, click HERE):

  • Many interface improvements (improved menus after missions, mail client improvements, base building fixes, unavailable aircraft menu buttons disabled and start/recall moved to icon, buy/sell menu fixes, mouse behaviour fixes, research screen fixes, equipment screen improvements, fixes to mousewheel behaviour, aircraft equipment menu improvements and firemode selection cleanup.
  • Fixes and performance improvements to the new pathfinding.
  • Geoscape fixes (destroyed UFOs now are removed properly, UFOs now also estimate location of the aircraft they are trying to intercept, fixes to incorrect UFO tracking lines, a hack for long distance estimation problems, radar overlay handling fixes, fixed occasional crash when aircraft meet, shortcut fixes and fixed automatic initial ammo addition.
  • Updated textures.
  • Campaign improvements (more gradual tech introduction, fixes to alien equipment assignment, ammo dependence fixes, more ammo added to the market, crashed UFO missions are now limited in time.
  • Work towards implementing alien bases (team and equipment definitions, interest category).
  • New research tree images.
  • Power armour animation updates
  • New aircraft models.
  • Updates to the music.
  • Fixes to model scale.

A version 2.2 trailer of the game
>> Are there more freeware strategy games?


Odessa Silverberg said...

Nice post. I loved that game back then when it was released!

Shazbot said...

Wait till they release v2.3. ;) It has a sleeker interface, a kick-ass 3d geoscape, and they've introduced various gameplay elements. Moreover, the game now has a conclusion, something that the current stable version is sorely lacking.

I've volunteered to do some concept art for them but the day job's eating up my time.

Glad you like the post!