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X-COMmunicated

Posted on Wednesday, February 28 @ 14:54:55 Eastern by Mike_Reilly
Some classics never die. Others get dug up, dunked in adamantium, and then jettisoned back into a battle-hardened market.

So is the case with the X-COM franchise and its 21st century version, UFO: Afterlight. Together they form a shining example of gaming's own wonky take on Darwinism -- survival of the addictive.

Even twelve years after its DOS release, the premise is as addictive as ever. Also, amidst the maelstrom of marketing and hail of Wii-motes in the barren tundra of the post-launch next-gen software vacuum... I got bored. So I spent some life braving the swarms of 404s, dead links, and other virtual middle fingers to bring us all a bonafide, WindowsXP-happy version of X-COM: UFO Defense, hosted for gratis.

Every gamer who wants to earn a true nerd merit badge must know about and preserve X-COM in all of its DOS elegance. In relatively dry times like these, what's crux is to expand our gamers' horizons and remind ourselves of that timeless trait which all great forms of art share -- what was quality will be. Otherwise, what are we gamers to do? Play Diner Dash? Sift through more Monkeyvision? Go outside? WoW forbid!

Well, thanks to a guy leeter-than-I, "f0dder", who made a patch "xcom1fix.exe" which you launch instead of the actual X-COM executable file in this download, we're able to get it working with XP with a quick double-click. That's the easy path; also known in gaming circles that matter as "The Way of Teh Noob". However, after the fiftieth time I launched the game in a week, I got an error. If that happens to you, here's what you do to get the game going again, save states intact:

(1) Go the Start Menu and select "Run".
(2) Type in "dxdiag". Hit Enter.
(3) Click the Display tab and Disable DirectDraw Acceleration.
(4) Then run the game with the "UFO Defense.EXE".
(5) When you're done playing, repeat Step 1 but Enable DirectDraw.
(6) Flip some monkeyvision.

Once you get tired of toggling between X-COM and every other program on Earth, go download the UFO: Afterlight demo. It's an updated version of the X-COM gamplay, almost to tribute status. In a nutshell, you'll like it.

Finally, when you've played the demo into the ground, UFO: Afterlight is available for download right here. Even if it's just to hold the past right beside the present, give them both a shot. Future You will thank you for it; and so will your fellow ranty, purist nerd.

Props to Home of the Underdogs for ending my "abondonware" hunt. Next: "Theme Park".



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