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Opinions On Ufo: Extraterrestrials?


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#1 Pherdnut

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Posted 14 June 2007 - 06:12 AM

Gamespot wasn't very kind to it, but it still looks interesting to me. Anybody out there who's played it?

#2 illegal youth

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 12:06 PM

i've played it quite a bit and have already written a rather extensive review on it:

http://illegalyouth....als-review.html

though, there are many issues with the gameplay that i have found since writing that review.

overall, i'll say that ufo: et is a pretty good skeleton of a game, but strange design decisions and missing options/features (that were present in the x-com series) make the game less than appealing to me. i'll try to summarize everything off the top of my head:

in the geospace, things are limited.

you'll only ever have one main base that allows for research, manufacturing, alien containment, personal, and equipment. even in this main base options are limited -- living quarters play no role in gameplay as one building can house a seemingly unlimited number of personal. there are no general stores either, so no equipment management. base defenses are virtually worthless as well (though, the recent patch claims to have fixed that). you can't hire soldiers/scientists/engineers either. soldiers come randomly every month or so, one at a time. scientists and engineers come in sets of ten with each laboratory or workshop built.

secondary bases are only allowed to house hangers, radar, defenses, and a power structure. you cannot transfer anything other than ships and their components to them.

also, there can only every be one base in each of the nine territories on the planet -- either CAF forces or alien forces. this leads to few base missions (either CAF or alien). on top of that, terror missions just spring up randomly (the aren't spawned from a ufo, like in x-com). those are also pretty rare. i've had months go by without any terror activity, which is disappointing, since terror missions in x-com were some of the most tense and memorable.

finances are confusing, since salaries are subtracted on a daily schedule rather than at the end of the month. the budget screen doesn't project expenditures, so you can imagine how it can be difficult to keep track of spending. it's not uncommon to run out of cash two-thirds into a month. any research or production you had going on will cease immediately, and you'll have to restart these tasks manually when you have the funds. this system also seems to charge you twice for research projects/produced items when starting more than one project in a day. (edit: i should clarify -- the game pays that days salary for scientists/engineers twice)

air combat also has its flaws. the developers decided to make air combat in real time. so, not only do air combats stretch unrealistically more than half-way across the globe in the span of a few hours, but the player will have to micromanage engagements in order to ensure that ufos crash over land.

battlescape has a few more problems.

lets get the strange design decisions out of the way first. soldiers never die, rather they fall unconscious. the only way a soldier does die is if you flee the mission and leave their bodies behind. also, you can't pick up unconscious soldiers and take them back to the ship to flee, since there is no item in the game for an unconscious body. another strange decision was to go with a strength requirement system for equipping items instead of an encumbrance system. this is related to the "immortal" soldier design decision. more on that in a bit, but first i'll need to explain how weapon/armor techs work.

this next part may be a spoiler of sorts. the weapon/armor techs each have strength requirements in order to equip them (and the game doesn't even tell you what the requirement is until you try to equip it! so you could spend months making new heavy laser guns only to find out that the strength requirement to carry the weapon is higher than any of your soldiers' current stat). the strength requirements get progressively higher, so by the late game you'll need ridiculously high strength levels to carry current tech (upwards of 90). a little more info on weapon techs -- each advancement appears to be nothing more than a slight improvement in damage and accuracy over the previous tech. this makes older techs completely useless by the late game, since they cannot do enough damage to be effective against the aliens. the game appears to be jsut scaling weapons tech and alien "toughness" as the game progresses.

this system appears to be in place of an encumbrance system, which means that you can equip soldiers with as much as you can fit in the equip screen. this, of course, leads to equipment exploits like carrying all grenades and not being weighed down by them. i think the strength requirements was selected over an encumbrance system because the developers could get away with it (and this is how it relates to soldier immortality) -- if soldiers never die, they will have huge stats by the end game, so carrying current tech shouldn't be a problem. but if soldiers do die, then rookies would be unable to carry late game tech. modders who have tried to put in soldier mortality have run into this problem -- late game rookies are completely, utterly useless.

there are loads of missing features in the vanilla game: a tactical minimap; buttons to save action points for shooting, reaction fire, and kneeling; hotkeys; and speed settings, for starters. some of these things have been fixed with the patch (hotkeys and speed settings, for example). with the patch, you can also now turn off the auto-camera scrolling when moving soldiers, which is a relief. but the auto-scrolling for weapon fire is still permanently activated, and it can get annoying as well (there's no need to scroll the camera to follow the path of the bullet when both your soldier and the alien are on screen, yet the game does just that). other missing things -- you can't see out of windows for some reason, maps are pre-generated and selected from a pool of just 200 (leading to the player seeing the same exact landscape over and over. why there isn't a random map generator is beyond me), and maps only have 2 levels, in my experience.

for some reason, the developers made the soldiers 2D sprites despite that the tactical game is in a fully 3D environment. the camera is fixed in the isometric view, though modders have implemented a feature to rotate the camera. but, because of the 2D soldiers, this feature is completely useless. why the soldiers weren't modeled in 3D (like the aliens are) is another mystery.

soldiers will never panic or go berserk. i'm yet to see morale play any role in the game at all, other than protecting against the mind paralysis attack from certain aliens. alien AI is lacking big time. they never throw grenades, make use of cover, or have any sense of self preservation. aliens will bull rush the player's soldiers and use up all their action points, leaving themselves in the wide open. aliens also clump together often, making them prime targets for explosives. aliens also rarely make use of buildings, preferring to charge the player's soldiers in the open. bman's mod, over at the official forums, improves the AI to a significant degree, and i now feel the game is basically unplayable without that improvement (also check out the frankenmod, which make further improvements).

the final major design decision that hurts gameplay is the soldier leveling system. soldiers only seem to gain experience only by wounding and killing aliens. just carrying heavy weapons won't increase strength. surviving a paralysis attack won't increase bravery. if soldiers gain enough experience, the player then has the option to use five "skill points" on any of the soldier's attributes. this user-directed, as opposed to action-directed, leveling system allows the player to overpower attributes (like firing accuracy) that wouldn't ordinarily be overpowered had the attributes developed as a result of in-mission actions.

these are the big things that stick out in my mind right now, though i'm sure there are others.

the only good thing from this game is that modders have had a pretty easy time changing the game around (to some extent). i think the frankenmod, which puts two other mods together as well as adds some few features, does the best to get the game as close to the original x-com as possible, and i wouldn't still be playing the game without it. frankenmod can be found here, and the other two mods that it combines can be found here and here. there's also a menu that lets the player turn on/off and tweak most of the changes that the mod makes, so the player can decide how close to vanilla they want to keep the game.

that's all i have for now. what does everyone else think?

Edited by illegal youth, 15 June 2007 - 12:30 PM.


#3 Sorrow

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 12:33 PM

Oh :( .
Sounds like a dumbed down/unfinished Ufo with a lot of weird design decisions...
Well, it only confirms what I thought when I heard about the immortal soldiers first.

#4 NKF

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 12:38 PM

It almost sounds like they set out to make an X-Com game and then avoiding everything that made X-Com what it is for simplicities sake. I like simple - but there's a time where you must draw a line in the sand. Even though UFO/TFTD and Apocalpyse are completely different games in execution, they all share the same level of elements that make them X-Com games - and few games are able to replicate this. I suppose this extends a little to Interceptor too, if only for the starscape.

I guess your judgement is clouded somewhat if you go in expecting another X-com. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I try not to, that's how I'm going to be thinking when I manage to get UFO:ET (and a PC that can run it). Same thing happened when I played X-Com Enforcer, Aftermath, Aftershock and Silent Storm. They're not bad (in fact some are outright fun), they just don't live up to the same expectations.

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#5 illegal youth

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 12:49 PM

i don't think it's unfair to compare ufo: et to x-com at all. the developers stated themselves that they aimed to make a "spiritual" successor to x-com. they've copied the game story and basic design as well. not to mention that the boxed copy has gratuitous references to x-com all over the place. i don't have the box in front of me now, but i'm sure there are at least 2 or 3 quotes from gaming magazines/websites comparing ufo: et to x-com positively.

#6 Guest_Azrael_*

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 01:21 PM

There are mods that remove the unwanted features most people complain about, I strongly suggest you browse the UFO: ET forums, I hear they are pretty cool.

#7 illegal youth

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 02:01 PM

yes, there are. as i mentioned above, frankenmod (which now seems to go by the name "iskandars's mod v1.2" does pretty much everything. the tactical mod v.041 looks interesting too, if only for its tactical minimap.

but, some things don't seem to be moddable, like fixing soldier leveling or adding an encumbrance system to replace strength requirements. without that last one, soldier mortality will always be broken. someone was trying to mod in the ability to have functional secondary bases (that have all the capabilities of your main base) too, but i haven't heard anything about the progress of that in about a month.

Edited by illegal youth, 15 June 2007 - 02:02 PM.


#8 Sorrow

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 04:10 PM

I don't like the idea of buying a game and having modders repair the poor design decisions of developers. After all it's the developer who gets rewarded for his bad design decisions. If they (the developers) made bad decisions, then they should suffer consquences - i.e. less games getting sold.
That's how the business works. Every dollar spent for a game that has to be fixed by modders is a dollar spent on encouraging bad design decisions, bugged games, etc.

Edited by Sorrow, 15 June 2007 - 04:12 PM.


#9 Guest_Azrael_*

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 05:08 PM

You're just being unfair, UFO: ET might not be 100% what you expected it to be, but it's still a decent game, and has the ability to be moddable, thing not all games have, and even if it sucks, it seems to be the only opportunity X-Com gamers have to play an X-Com-like game, even if it's with mods.
So they made some poor design decisions, well, so what? you're far better than you were with no game at all, at least this one can be shaped to fit better the view you had on it.

I think CC did a good job on this, everyone makes mistakes, theirs was some poor design decisions, at least it's not a REALLY REALLY watered down version of X-Com like UFO: Aftermath was, it's just different, but with mods it can be whatever you want it to be.

#10 Pherdnut

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 03:25 PM

I think the devs invited comparison to the originals since they called it a spiritual successor so I wouldn't feel bad knocking it for failing to meet X-Com fan expectations.

We still have the original games. If this one actually falls short of the original designs then why bother with it, at least until some sweet mods are available.

Edited by Pherdnut, 19 June 2007 - 03:27 PM.


#11 Guest_Azrael_*

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 06:41 AM

They did, but my points still stand, it's still a decent game and far more moddable than any of its kind, AFAIK.

And there are already such mods, including a lot that make it a lot more like X-Com v_v

#12 FenderStrat

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 12:14 PM

I love the game and at least it takes me back to X-Com where other games like it just made me uninstall quickly from my hd.

I don't like the soldiers not dying, the fact that you can't buy soldiers, manufacture to sell for profit, and how the base defense doesn't work at all but i love how you can use your 5 experience pts to upgrade your favorite soldiers. One thing i hated about X-Com was playing the first half of the game with a bad donkey soldier to find out later on after meeting the Ethereals that said soldier turns in just one try and panics immediately after a psy attack. WTF man i hated that.

I like the game and people should give it a try because as someone else pointed out, it's the only thing close to X-Com.

#13 NRN_R_Sumo1

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 05:27 PM

..What about X-Com? Its fairly close to X-Com ^_^'..

Also there are plenty of games out there like X-Com.
Just not like X-Com 3.

Lots of turn based games for combat like the first 2, futuristic and non.

a couple of great examples are the gameboy games-- Final Fantasy Tactics, and uhh.. crap the one Nkf remembers the name of ^^'.. but I dont know the name myself.
Well, I have it.

WAIT! got it
These two can be played on a GBA Emulator, since to my knowledge an emulator is not illegal, only the roms.
Just google the Visual Boy Advanced, its the best one IMO
Google for Roms, and you can find your own way to whatever you want to illegally download (Yay for loopholes around posting illegal links ^^)

Gba:
Rebelstar Command
Final Fantasy Tactics

Pc:
From what Ive heard, Rome Total Anihalation or something along those lines allows you to equip your troops if its the micro management you are after
quite a few free Isometric Tactical games are out there, like X-com and opposite of it.
Just experiment with downloading random crap :D

Just look for them yourself, I cant be expected to remember all these names ^^'..
Me: Magic Eight Ball, do alien beings inhabit the earth?

Eight Ball: For the love of God, would you stop jiggling me! How can I predict the future when I'm about to throw up?!

#14 Guest_Azrael_*

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 07:04 PM

..What about X-Com? Its fairly close to X-Com ^_^'..

Also there are plenty of games out there like X-Com.
Just not like X-Com 3.

Lots of turn based games for combat like the first 2, futuristic and non.

a couple of great examples are the gameboy games-- Final Fantasy Tactics, and uhh.. crap the one Nkf remembers the name of ^^'.. but I dont know the name myself.
Well, I have it.

WAIT! got it
These two can be played on a GBA Emulator, since to my knowledge an emulator is not illegal, only the roms.
Just google the Visual Boy Advanced, its the best one IMO
Google for Roms, and you can find your own way to whatever you want to illegally download (Yay for loopholes around posting illegal links ^^)

Gba:
Rebelstar Command
Final Fantasy Tactics

Pc:
From what Ive heard, Rome Total Anihalation or something along those lines allows you to equip your troops if its the micro management you are after
quite a few free Isometric Tactical games are out there, like X-com and opposite of it.
Just experiment with downloading random crap :D

Just look for them yourself, I cant be expected to remember all these names ^^'..

Those games you mentioned (bar Rebelstar) are nothing like X-Com, only resemblance is being turn-based...

Games similar to X-Com would probably include Silent Storm, which from what I've heard from the guys at StrategyCore, it's a pretty damn good one (I'm not really into that kind of strategy games, I tend to prefer futuristic / medieval, with strong emphasis on the futuristic ones).

Also... I don't understand the purpose of your reply, truly puzzles me...

#15 NRN_R_Sumo1

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 10:44 PM

You obviously didnt read the post before it, its called a Reply for a reason ;)

If I am correct from what Ive been told by Nkf, the makers of X-Com worked on Rebelstar and they were attempting to make it like x-com xP
Try and keep an open mind Az, simular and identical are not the same.
Me: Magic Eight Ball, do alien beings inhabit the earth?

Eight Ball: For the love of God, would you stop jiggling me! How can I predict the future when I'm about to throw up?!

#16 Guest_Azrael_*

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 11:33 PM

You obviously didnt read the post before it, its called a Reply for a reason ;)

If I am correct from what Ive been told by Nkf, the makers of X-Com worked on Rebelstar and they were attempting to make it like x-com xP
Try and keep an open mind Az, simular and identical are not the same.

Rebelstar is similar, I never said anything about identical, don't know what you're aiming at here, same on open mind, dunno what that was about...

Anyways, I just pointed that I saw no similarities whatsoever between Final Fanasy Tactics and X-Com, beyond the turn based combat that is.