Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Review TC Retrospective: X-COM: Apocalypse

Discussion in 'Tacticular News & Content' started by Whisky, Jul 18, 2015.

  1. Make America Great Again Whisky The Solution

    Whisky
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    Tags: Microprose; Tacticular Cancer; X-COM; X-COM: Apocalypse; Xcom

    Local Strategy Game expert and veteran potato farmer Darth Roxor has taken it upon himself to do a retrospective of the ever-controversial X-COM Apocalypse. But was it really as bad as people make it out to be? Let's see what he has to say.


    [​IMG]
    Welcome to Mega-Primus. It’s a silly place.​


    Hey! Do you know X-COM Apocalypse? Of course you do. It’s that bad rtwp game that killed the X-COM series and gave way to horrible games like Enforcer and Interceptor.

    But a much more important question that I would like to ask you today is whether you have actually played Apocalypse. I suspect the most common answer to this will be “no”. I can’t say I blame you. After all, it took me over 15 years to gather the courage to do it myself. I was put off by so many things that I’d heard about it – that it was buggy, unstable, unfinished, nigh-impossible to run, outright bad, etc. For a longer while, I was even certain that it only featured rtwp combat, even though the turn-based mode is still there. But what I found suspicious was just how vague all of that sounded - it felt like Apocalypse was branded as a terrible game simply because it crashed a lot. So after figuring I might as well finally take the plunge, I picked it up at Gaben’s trinket shop (“hey, if it’s on Steam, that should mean it’s playable now!”) and once again took command of X-COM to stop the gosh darn aliens from stealing my freedoms. And I ended up glued to my computer for a whole month.

    Read the full article: TC Retrospective: X-COM: Apocalypse
     
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  2. Make America Great Again Whisky The Solution

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    Thanks to Darth Roxor for making this excellent review. I can't help but love Apocalypse despite it having about a million design flaws.
     
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  3. Awor Szurkrarz Arcane In My Safe Space

    Awor Szurkrarz
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    No crushing criticism of shit economy system without reaction to destroying organization buildings and inability to bankrupt them?
    No crushing criticism of gimped weapons?
     
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  4. Crazed Weevil Arbiter

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    I remember playing this when it first came out, crashes and all...it was good.

    There was nothing quite like sending a lone agent into the Cult of Sirius to hunt for implants, getting a good start on stat boosting and walking out without a scratch. Or the Toxin Gun's insane fire rate and the murder & mayhem it could do in close quarters. Or levelling an entire slum block to kill one single head crab because you can't find the fucking thing...
     
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  5. Absalom Guest

    Absalom
    INDEED

    Also, not mentioning the god awful end game where you have to do 10 missions? :decline:

    Real time mode isn't completely worthless, either. For small missions in big buildings, it's actually better to choose RTwP because then the alium AI is MUCH more aggressive, thus ending the mission a lot quicker with no 'last alium hiding in a fucking closet' syndrome bullshit we all hated (This is especially true in Apocalypse, since some buildings are gigantic.)
     
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  6. Make America Great Again Whisky The Solution

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    Real Time is only good for dealing with those fucking 1 hit kill headcrabs and the exploding aliens. Your dudes are significantly more competent dealing with them in those modes.
     
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  7. Make America Great Again Darth Roxor Prestigious Gentleman Wielder of the Huegpenis, Hater of Eternity

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    I felt crushingly criticising the economy when there was also none to begin with in EU/TftD would be a wee bit hypocritical. And if anything, I had to save up cash for a longer time in Apocalypse than I had to in the prequels.

    Which ones? Some of them are merciless murdertools, and some of those you even get from the very start. The only really terrible gun that I can name is the starting sniper rifle - there's no use for that piece of shit whatsoever.

    I liked it :M

    I disagree, I'd say the AI in Apoc is more aggressive than EU/TftD even in turn-based. Most of the aliens will actively try to seek you out, the only exception here being the multiworms, and perhaps spitters. Also, since some of the mapsets get more and more predictable as the game goes on, you can immediately pinpoint places where aliens are certain to hide.
     
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  8. Make America Great Again Whisky The Solution

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    It's got use. Aesthetics.

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. Awor Szurkrarz Arcane In My Safe Space

    Awor Szurkrarz
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    EU/TftD didn't have invincible human countries attacking them until you'd pay them. The whole system was fucked up because orgs could destroy your base and you couldn't their. Also, only you could offer a bribe, while an organization subjected to effective raiding and bombing would probably try bribe X-Com to stop it.

    Then there are no civilians during X-Com raids which is odd, because orgs have no qualms about murdering X-Com civilians.

    All energy weapons are gimped. Plasma pistol is weaker than in EU, laser is pathetic, disruptor gun is weaker than plasma pistol from EU, Devastator cannon is much weaker than heavy plasma from EU.

    Dimension missiles despite being anti-matter based are much weaker than blaster bombs, the same for vortex mines.

    Acid spit is pathetic compared to EU celatid acid spit.

    To make things worse, human agents have starting health of 40-50 instead of 25-40 like in EU. Which means that besides the initial gimping, weapon damages are effectively 1,6x smaller.
     
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  10. Make America Great Again Darth Roxor Prestigious Gentleman Wielder of the Huegpenis, Hater of Eternity

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    Sure, but considering how easy it is to maintain at least unfriendly relations with everyone except the Cult of Sirius, I don't think this is that much of a flaw in practical terms. It sucks that you can't knock them out of the game, yeah, but otoh it's not like everyone is actively out to get you. As with most flaws or unfinished things with Apocalypse, it can be easily avoided.

    I disagree as far as disruptor guns and devastator weapons being gimped - they are still pretty potent. Lasers and plasma being 'gimped' makes sense because they are starting guns that are omnipresent, cheap and easy as hell to loot.

    And in regard to the second thing, this is where the 'problem' with Apoc lies, not really with the guns themselves, and I noted it as well in the article. The agents are just more beefy all around, including stats and starting gear (seriously, that megapol armour is crazy good), and get even more beefy as the game goes on, particularly due to the personal shields. The shields, in fact, are what perhaps breaks the game the most, and what makes the devastator cannons feel gimped compared to heavy plasmas. If the aliens had a shield-ignoring equivalent of the toxgun, X-COM agents would be in much bigger trouble. But they don't, so they don't, to quote a classic.
     
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  11. Make America Great Again The Brazilian Slaughter Arcane

    The Brazilian Slaughter
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    Smashing review of such a unappreciated gem in the rough of a game, Darth Roxor!

    X-COM Apocalypse is the classic Codex Rough Gem tale: Great game that never reaches its full potential because of a problematic development and being forced to launch before it was truly ready. Publisher interference abounds.

    I think you went a bit light on the balance. The early balance is quite good but yeah there's some balance pitfalls there, sometimes unintentional. For example, the only reason Hoverbikes are so imba is that X-COM Apocalypse uses a targeting system that aims where the vehicle is, not where it is projected to be - if that was changed, Hoverbikes would be absolutely butchered by the bigger craft. Also, the bigger craft are too expensive for their relative worth.

    I agree that Hybrids are pretty much useless - the groundwork for psi mechanics is good but there's a lot of goofs, not to mention the fact most enemies are virtually brainless and immune to psi. I use them as cannon-fodder or to read stats of aliens I'm trying to capture.

    There''s actually one ground vehicle that is worth it: The tank. The standard cannon is nice against slow craft, and that big-ass plasma cannon is just killer, although you will need lots of Elerium for it.

    I suggest strongly to play with mods after the first game, like K_mod (TB-focused rebalance) and Road Rage (makes land vehicles better).

    One thing I strongly feel lacking is a proper lightning system. Everywhere, no matter what, is 100% daylight bright, which is bullshit because the Cityscape has a day/night circle. I know that most of buildings have ilumination sources, but just have the aliens sabotage it, there. Granted, you could say that X-COM uses night vision and stuff, but I don't think night vision is perfect, and some creativity could put problems even then.

    One of my favorite X-COM Apocalypse experiences was having a hellish week in my first game and ending up with only a few wounded, baddly-armed soldiers in my base. Which is then invaded by dozens of Osiron goons with force-fields (they were alien-infiltrated). By the end, I had to cheese like a motherfucker with incendiary auto cannon rounds and proper sniping, and by the end it was pretty much three baddly-wounded and unarmored soldiers between humanity and ITZ. That was positively intense!

    There's actually a project to make a Open Source engine port for it called OpenApoc, in the vein of OpenXCom: http://openapoc.pmprog.co.uk/
    (still early in development, tho. Its recent-ish)

    One unappreciated accidental effect of X-COM Apocalypse, I feel, is that it and a few other games with both TB/RT combat (like Arcanum) did the favour of killing the stupid idea of having TB and RT in the same game in the first place. Even the popamolers these days know that its a inherently stupid idea. Only game I know that had both RT and TB and the combat wans't total trash is Fallout Tactics, and even then it was actually a phase-based system (they call it Continuous Turn-Based for a reason) and the combat would obviously be better if it was turn-based only.
     
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  12. Make America Great Again Whisky The Solution

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    Supposed to be working on writing my novel.

    Fuck it, time to play Apocalypse.
     
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  13. Suicidal Meat Slapper Learned

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    Honestly, out of the original 3 X-com's with no mods, Apocalypse remains my favorite. Sure, it was never finished and often times turns into a clusterfuck of gigantic proportions, but the difficulty curve kept me on edge and its addicting gameplay is rivaled by very few games. I may prefer OpenXcom in the end, but past that, I loved every second I wasted on this game and don't regret my love for such a mess.

    Like Slaughter mentioned, OpenApoc is an open source conversion that may lead to modders being able to add in all of the features that were left out (such as the 8 alien dimensions, sprites based off of the original plans, etc.)

    EDIT: And holy shit, that soundtrack (even when it went into full-on meatfuck without any reason.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2015
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  14. Ed123 Arcane Patron

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    Serpent in the Staglands Wasteland 2


    :mca:
     
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  15. Luka-boy Arcane

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    Thank you very much for the review. Apocalypse is one of my favourite rough gems to play and I revisit it every two or so years simply because it's so damn fun.

    Other than small flaws and the constant "what it could have been" thought when I see some hints of unimplemented mechanics now that I know some of the developers' original plans, I don't have many issues with it and definitely think the good things easily overwhelm the bad ones.

    That said, I really wish the endgame destroying the main buildings in the alien dimension wasn't so long and inane, but I learned to just claim "I won!" by the time I can safely fly in that dimension and shoot down every single ship there. As far as I'm concerned, my ships bombed every building there and won the war :M

    PS: Always relevant Apoc animated .gif.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2015
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  16. Make America Great Again The Brazilian Slaughter Arcane

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    Sorry guys, but Alien Infiltration/Alone in Mega-Primus is the best one in Apoc's OST. Its like Prelude to ITZ themesong.

     
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  17. profreshinal Arcane

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    I always liked the RTwP mode better in apoc. There's something deeply satisfying going through a building, setting up security points with some squads and then blasting the door of a room open, quickly securing it and moving on to the next target. That just felt better in RTwP.
     
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  18. Ulrox Learned

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    I love the idea of apocalypse - one big city. Lore is also really cool, and atmosphere is great. I also love the idea of aliens invading from another dimension. That stuff blew my childhood mind back then, and still blows my mind today!
     
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  19. Awor Szurkrarz Arcane In My Safe Space

    Awor Szurkrarz
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    Two words:
    Elerium Farming.

    No, it's both guns and armour. If guns weren't gimped, megapol armour wouldn't help much to non-HP-bloated soldiers. If devastator cannon would have stats of a heavy plasma or higher, it would take down shield with one shot.
    Lasers and plasma would be harder to loot if they'd have stats of EU heavy laser and plasma pistol.

    Dimension missile with 200+ damage would also own.

    About costs - item costs are seriously fucked up. Craft laser cannon is only 2x more expensive than a light machine gun...
     
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  20. Make America Great Again Darth Roxor Prestigious Gentleman Wielder of the Huegpenis, Hater of Eternity

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    Dunno about best/worst case, but it took me 50 hours. I was experimenting a lot, though.

    Different layouts of Mega-Primus, initial funding levels, bribe costs and speed of alien invasion.
     
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  21. Norfleet Moderator

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    Yes, but consider how much CHEAPER it is for an agent to fire a shot in Apoc. Compared to original X-Com, where an agent can get maybe 2 or 3 good shots, firing a Devastator cannon costs some much smaller fraction of your TU. The standard machine gun is still the best until your AP gets too high, though. 1 TU per shot, so a 70-odd AP agent can hose something down with about 70 bullets, which is enough to chew through anything at point blank and bombard even long-range enemies with enough lead to maim or kill.
     
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  22. Thane Solus Arcane

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    Same here, it wasnt UFO, but it was something very interesting, too bad the game turn into shit after you destroyed the first 2-4 alien buildings, because at that point everything become too easy. Still i think, i finished it 3-5 times, and back in the day when it was launched, man it was fucking overwhelming. Also played with RTWP. (<3 My pentium at 200 mhz) hahah

    From what i remember, the project was huge, and due to cuts in the budget they had to hurry the launch, thats why its so unbalanced. Still a flawed gem for me, and i would still play it.

    I also liked the new xcoms, with all this flaws, even tho the strategic layers was fucking non existent...

    As for xenonauts, its made by non developers and saved by the community. I liked the strategic layer, some of the changes in equipment and research, but i liked more the tactical combat in XCOM EW, even with it retarded flaws.

    Good review and shame on you Darth that you didnt played Apoc until this year, also the consoles, retarded company decisions and unproper use of 3d destroyed the next games. Everybody at that point started to explore making retardo games for consoles, which in turn destroyed companies and games. Remember history of Interplay and Brian Fargo?
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2015
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  23. Joined on the 4th of July Prophet

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    A good game and a good review. Agree with it being on par with the original XCOM. Always played with rtwp, big reason for that can be seen in Luka-boy's gif.

    I remember one annoying game where Transtellar got infiltrated by aliens and I couldn't recruit anymore guys (or maybe just scientists/engineers?), because they'd just wait for their taxis that never came on the other side of the city, never arriving to my base.
     
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  24. *-*/\--/\~ Learned

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    You made me want to play the game again, I loved it when it came out. It was so full of cool ideas. Imagine a multiplayer version, with each player controlling one faction. :D

    Pity about unfinished stuff - if you browse the game directory, you can find pictures of some unused assets.

    And multiworms aren't that bad - just kill them with explosives and the blast will take care of all the little spawned shits. ;)
     
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