TheIndieJar: Xenonauts Preview
Seeing as XCOM: Enemy Unknown has recently been released and is doing rather well, this is probably a good time to let you know that there is an indie team called Goldhawk Interactive that loves XCOM as much as 2K. Their view on the daunting task of updating the beloved classic is to recreate as much of the experience as possible, while adding features that expand upon the formula that is already there.
To set itself apart and not just become another XCOM clone the game has it’s own story that is told through the research and Xenopedia documents. Following a mysterious incident in Iceland the Xenonauts were formed by both the USSR and NATO to research the technology and defend the world from extraterrestrials, but fell into decline after no apparent threat was detected. Then, in 1979 the aliens returned with force that could only be repelled by the Xenonauts. So much of the look of the game is based on Cold War technology so you interceptors are MIG-32s and F-17s.
It also creates an atmosphere of “Oh God, we’re fucked” because (at the start of the game at least) your guys run round with puny rifles that barely make a dent in the invaders, while a single alien can wipe out half your squad. You carefully hunt round the combat arenas for well hidden aliens, dreading the moment when the catch you first. The soldiers are all dour-looking and have a space/slot system to kit them out in gear according to the role you want them to play and the stats that they have.
The game can be broken down into parts that keep the pressure on you constantly. ground combat will be familiar with explosions, positioning units and death changing the tactical shape of the battlefield every turn. Taking out walls to get a better view works well and getting everything into position to trap the last evasive space-man is satisfyingly handled. With action points and ammo counting down, it makes those risky moves matter even more. Then there is air combat – this is the new bit because most of the time air combat is simulated out of your control; a top-down radar view of real-time fighter plane combat that you can pause shows the status of three of your jets. You can tell them where to go, what missiles to fire and whether to disengage. Finally, the Geoscape ties all this madness together with a global view of forces, bases and alien contacts. Things are going on all the time and you have to make the balancing act of important targets vs. what you can handle work to your advantage.
This game is currently up for sale as a pre-order – with that you get access to the beta. This is a game where everything has a number assigned to it and losing can happen in five minutes or thirty but is always very probable. The dark and serious atmosphere adds a lot to the tension so if those things turn your crank then go check it out!
Game site: xenonauts.com
Follow on Twitter: GoldhawkInt
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