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This daft mammal's thoughts on the Xenonauts demo


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First off, not sure if this belongs here, but couldn't find anywhere else that it ought to be, so I'll just go ahead.

Now, I've been keeping my eyes on Xenonauts from time to time, once even signed up on the forums, just before they relocated. I never did feel convinced though, as a lot of games that try to follow in the footsteps of X-COM always fall flat on some account. My favorite was always UFO: Alien Invasion, but when the Xenonauts demo found its way onto my computer I had to change my mind.

Anyway, to avoid a massive wall of text I'll just list down cons and pros that I found about the game (yes, starting with cons). And I know that the demo isn't the final release and stuff will be overhauled, so I'll skip the stuff I know will be fixed.

Anyway, stuff I think could use a tune-up.

- Heavy Fighters seem to act like Scouts to me, they just go around having a looksee before heading out into orbit again, as opposed to regular fighters who seek out my interceptors and try to shoot them down.

- Alienum Missiles are (kinda) infinite. I produced 8 of them, and shot down well over 20 fighters and still had 5 left.

- It's kinda hard to see aliens and Xenonauts through walls. A shadow-thingy to show what's there or something perhaps?

- ... And well, that's just it really. The rest seems to be stuff that Chris & Co. are aware of and are on the to-do list. One final question remains, is the demo supposed to end by the end of September (in game)? I keep getting annihilated at that point, so either I have the worst timing ever, or I'm just reading it wrong.

Now, onto the good stuff! What I liked about Xenonauts, and what might be enough to put UFO: Alien Invasion off the throne.

- The game looks great! The animations are nice, the sprites are nice, the level of detail on your troops is also very nice.

- Troops have character. I'm a fluff nerd, I'll admit, but knowing that Ivan Kalashnikov is from Russia and former Spetsnaz is the kind of stuff that makes me more attached to them.

- Artwork. The artwork is, to my eyes, great. It conveys they feeling of the game, and I actually feel a tad guilty when that general points at me at the end of each month.

- The combat feels X-COMsih, in lack of a better term. It's tense, deadly and entertaining. If a tad predictable, but once the AI gets done proper, I think it should mix things up a bit.

- Air combat. Something I missed in UFO: AI, and to a lesser degree, in X-COM. I actually think it's enjoyable (save for the occasional one-shotted F-17/MiG32) and it hasn't gotten tedious yet.

TL;DR: I like Xenonauts, it isn't perfect yet, but I have high hopes for it to become the one X-COM spiritual successor to rule them all.

On a side note, I am very easy to please, but loose interest fast. If I'm around by release, you've done pretty good in my book!

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Heavy fighters have just been added, I imagine they probably haven't had their specific missions set for them yet.

Until just before the KS demo they weren't actually armed either.

Alenium missiles are bugged, they don't always use ammo for some reason.

The wall/visibility problems are known as well, the engine is a bit clunky apparently when it comes to making walls transparent to show units behind them.

Chris did say he had someone working on it though.

That is a big thing for me, it really does need something to make it easier to see them.

Hoping it will be sorted out soonish.

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One final question remains, is the demo supposed to end by the end of September (in game)? I keep getting annihilated at that point, so either I have the worst timing ever, or I'm just reading it wrong.

The alien invasion escalates in accordance with a hidden ticker, and when said ticker reaches a predetermined number of points, the game is over. You can slow the process down by intercepting more alien missions.

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Heavy fighters have just been added, I imagine they probably haven't had their specific missions set for them yet.

Until just before the KS demo they weren't actually armed either.

Ah, didn't know that. Explains the odd behavior, it does.

The alien invasion escalates in accordance with a hidden ticker, and when said ticker reaches a predetermined number of points, the game is over. You can slow the process down by intercepting more alien missions.

That does ring a bell, now that I read it. Still, it seems rather abrupt. There wasn't much of a heads-up, so to speak. Funding was going up along with nation relations, but maybe that's the wrong place to look?

Ah well, do it again and do it right!

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That does ring a bell, now that I read it. Still, it seems rather abrupt. There wasn't much of a heads-up, so to speak. Funding was going up along with nation relations, but maybe that's the wrong place to look?

Ah well, do it again and do it right!

I'm not sure there's a right or wrong way to do it... it's just the nature of the alpha and the demo build - not all the content is in there, and this is sort of akin to a game giving you the first act of 3 in the demo. More will be in the beta, I would assume, and even more in the final build.

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I suppose not being annihilated would be a step in the right direction at least ;)

Also I heard it whispered somewhere that the balance isn't fully ironed out yet, and as you say Kilrathi (isn't that some tree-bug in KotoR? Or is that kinrath?) it's not final. I'll be making a pre-order when I get the money, and from there on the rest shalt cometh in due time, I suppose.

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The heavy fighters appear designed to 'fool' you. I got in the habit of sending out single F-17's to shoot down 'small' sized targets so I could get a crash site, assuming they were scouts. Ran into a couple heavy fighters and had to start examining the speed and other things to be sure of what I was scrambling for. Also the heavy fighters soon proved not worth the risk and were too dangerous so I started leaving them alone until I found better tech. I like that, and having 'bluff' units seems like something the aliens would try.

As for your missile thing, that sounds like a bug.

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Made the same misstake, Targe. Sending out MiG32's to kill Scouts only to find it was a Heavy Fighter. It works, so long as you remember that fighters can dodge...

It's not like they actually do anything though, AFAIK they just cruise around, chilling with a cold beer and a pack of smokes. So yeah, they're not really worth it. Hard to kill to.

Aren't they about as fast as the actual Scouts? It does seem the F-17s have a hard time catching 'em, at least.

Wing Commander? I don't think I'm that old, to be honest. Or I've just missed something, yet again. That's what I get for spending my days scavenging people's dustbins...

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You missed out - it's sort of like missing out on Led Zeppelin (or at least the Who) though, to be fair, it's one of those franchises that for whatever reason was huge back in the day but hasn't really been revived lately. Sort of like Wizardry - I keep waiting to see someone pick up the IP and bring them both back to life. It's always interesting for me to still be under 40 and be making references to games that a whole new generation has never heard of!

Wing Commander was one of the landmark games/franchises of the '90s (WC I and II won best fantasy or sci-fi game of the year in '90 and '91, respectively, and spawned a whole host of sequels). It was made by Lord British's computer Origin Systems, who also made the Ultima series, and included pretty big name Hollywood stars like Mark Hamill (that Star Wars guy), Christopher Walken, John Hurt, John Rhys-Davies and Clive Owen.

There's a fan-made homage/remake in the works that's supposedly going to be played (or maybe already is) sometime soon at www.wcsaga.com

More info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wing_Commander_(franchise)

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Then I am too young, considering I was born around the time those awards were handed out. I do remember seeing a bit of the film some years back, but not much about it.

Methinks this actually warrants further investigation, always on the lookout for good games. And to be honest much of today's games just don't live up to what it was like back in the day. The two games currently marked my favorites are about as old as me.

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Sorry to butt into the thread, but do you actually know away to play the old Wing Commander games, Kilrathi? I've been meaning to play the series (as well as Wing Commander Saga) but I can't seem to find a proper emulator/ROM set-up for the older ones.

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Wing commander Prophesy did... and one before that.. can't remember...

Wing Commander: Prophecy and its two direct predecessors, parts III and IV of the main series, did.

I've not played any of them myself, but my second-in-command used to be a big fan.

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Wing Commander was a classic, although slightly before my time too. Didn't it have Mark Hamil in it, or am I just making that up?

Didn't you guys play computer games as a kid? I suppose you might not of if you didn't have an older brother who was 10 years older and used to get games off the back of Amiga Power and £1.99 mail orders.

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Didn't you guys play computer games as a kid? I suppose you might not of if you didn't have an older brother who was 10 years older and used to get games off the back of Amiga Power and £1.99 mail orders.

I'm 21 years old, and eldest kid, so I've got a valid reason as to not have played it. Amiga and all that was way before my time, most of my young gaming days were spent with the SNES or the Nintendo 64, and later the Xbox :P

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I'm only 25 - Wing Commander came out when I was 4. That's one of the interesting things about X-Com - even in such a young industry as games development, plenty of people have still heard of it and love it.

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well, he probably started at 22 and looked 22. Now, he's 25 and looks 40 from the stress. most sages are like that. The only reason you have to travel to mountains to meet them is that you'd see them hanging around with their young peer groups in the towns.

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