Monday, June 9, 2014

OpenXcom Developer Announces That v1.0 Is "Coming Soon!"

This went under my facilities' radars: last May 6, the developer of OpenXcom announced that version 1.0 of the open-source reimplementation of Julian Gollop's phenomenal turn- and squad-based PC strategy game is coming soon.

Last May 30, the official site of the free PC mod posted a blinking teaser that reads: "Loading OpenXcom 1.0..."

Why is this news exciting and why should you care?

 Join the ranks of the X-COM and you get this awesome haircut. Sonic Boom not included.

 The whole nine yards after the jump. (Click on the line "Click here to read more...")

Well, X-COM: UFO Defense, the game that OpenXcom is modifying, launched in 1994---and set a bar for squad- and turn-based PC games that for more than 15 years remained unsurpassed. It was only recently that Firaxis equaled the standard by launching XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a much sleeker and visually awesome offering that impressed fans of the old franchise and made new fanatics of the aging IP.

Though considered archaic by today's standards in graphics, X-COM: UFO Defense is still largely played by hardcore gamers. 

However, the game made by Firaxis---while still impressive in its own right, is not really the old X-COM, and some hardcore fans of the first game disagree with some of its aspects, particularly about the limited number of maps, the relatively "fixed" positions of the enemy AI (something that was still hotly debated in several forums the last time I checked), the limited base building, and the simplified inventory. While offering a modern take on an ageless classic, XCOM: Enemy Unknown still can't match the complexity of the first game and fans of the original still do play the first installment even today.

Firaxis' game is a streamlined experience and its graphics are nothing short of impressive but therein lie its weakness: fans of the original still clamor for the first PC game's expansive strategic aspects.

Enter OpenXcom, an open source free X-COM: UFO Defense mod, a package that aims to fix all of the first game's annoying bugs most notably the following:

"funding overflows, disconnected facilities, broken proximity grenades, floating soldiers."
In addition, it corrects several gameplay issues including personnel and item limits, the need for a DOS emulator, and cumbersome inventory mechanics.

It also adds moddability and flexibility in that you can now play the turn-based strategy game on a platform of your choosing.

So is this free? Yes. However, you still need to have a copy of X-COM: UFO Defense for OpenXcom to work. It is a mod after all.

You can scan the modification's FAQ here.