Only If You’re an X-COM Fan
As the gaming world has evolved, different “factions” of gamers have emerged,
each with unique likes and dislikes: Flight-sim’ers, racers, 3D action’ers,
RPG’ers, and real time strategy’ers to name a few. Right now, 3D/action and
real time strategy gamers seemes to have emerged as the two most popular.
Many newer games have made a valiant attempt bridge the line that separates
the two. For example, Battlezone, a 3D
action game that also allows players to build structures and produce units like
a strategy game. X-COM Interceptor, MicroProse’s latest, also makes an
effort to fill this gap, letting players manage, expand and defend different
bases, structures and resources in a real-time strategy mode while at the same
time making them take on the enemies first-hand in a 3D space-shooter mode.
While the game has a lot of depth and complexity for a real-time strategy, the
3D-half resembles a half-baked version of the X-Wing
and TIE Fighter series, with outdated graphics and awkward controls.
X-COM Interceptor bears a strong resemblance to its older and successful
predecessors. For one, the story. Basically, as in all the other X-COM games,
the player is battling a war against aliens, only this time it takes place in
space. As you may or may not remember, older X-COM games combined the real-time
strategy (RTS) overhead aspect with turn-based action for actual fighting sequences.
X-COM Interceptor has replaced this turn-based action with not-so-up-to-par
“space combat”. Like the others, it does have complexity, depth and a high learning
curve. Expect to spend a lot of time playing any of the X-COM series.
Graphically speaking, however, X-COM Interceptor is simply outdated.
While the RTS user interface has a nice, spacey look to it, it cannot compete
with those big guns on the market today (how about Starcraft
and Total Annihilation to start). The graphics are not
bad, showing some intricate detail (like the ability to zoom in and take a closer
look at stars), as well as some 3D (you can rotate your base to take a look
at different parts). Still, “not bad” doesn’t quite cut it in the gaming industry.
combat side, graphics are even less impressive. While the interface strongly
resembles that of the X-Wing series (the ability
to transfer energy from power to shields and back, the ability to link fire,
the ability to transfer shields from the back to the front, just to name a few
examples), it is clearly overmatched in today’s gaming world. Ships travel at
an unplayable speed and actually hitting your target is extremely difficult.
The 3D objects, mostly other ships, have a decent look to them and there are
some impressive effects like, for example, the trails of a missile or a shock
wave emitted after an explosion. These are, however, overshadowed by all the
other little “nasties” riddled throughout the game.
If you’re going to attempt to play X-COM Interceptor, you had better
have a lot of time on your hands, not just to play the game, but also to learn
how to play the damn thing. Basically, it is your job to manage and expand the
space “frontier”. Using funding earned by protecting profitable outposts and
ore processing plants from malicious aliens, you must build and expand bases,
develop new technology, and learn from alien technology all while maintaining
a somewhat “alien-free” frontier. Believe me, this task is harder and more complex
than it sounds, as you must deal with a whole slew of problems and obstacles
thrown at you all at once.
In the end, it is rewarding to see your progress conquering the frontier.
X-COM Interceptor does have multiplayer support, but only the 3D space
mode is available. This means that all the atrocities of the single player combat
will be experienced in multiplayer, while the joys of the RTS mode are absent,
even though that is by far the better part of the game. In general, X-COM
Interceptor just won’t work well over an 8 person LAN.
Many fans of the X-COM series will like X-COM Interceptor as it incorporates
many aspects of its prequels, as wwll as advancing the xcom storyline. On the
other hand, those who enjoyed the turn-based action will be let down because
of the fact that it was replaced by a sub-average X-Wing
clone. In spite of its depth and complexity, X-COM Interceptor will simply
fade away into mediocrity in the very near future.