X-COM (series)

"X-COM" is a series of computer games, started by Mythos Games and MicroProse in 1993. The first three titles were tactical games while the fourth was an action-based space combat/strategy game.

The first installment, ' in Europe (also known as "X-COM: UFO Defense" in North America) was written by a team led by Julian Gollop. MicroProse quickly had an internal team create the sequel '. Subsequently, the Gollop brothers went straight to work on "", which would end up being the third in the series when released in 1997. Soon after "Apocalypse", MicroProse was bought by Hasbro Interactive.

All titles were developed for the PC, with a few ports to the PlayStation and Amiga. The first three titles were originally developed to run under DOS, and have subsequently been ported to run under Microsoft Windows using DirectX.

eries standards

The premise for the series is fairly simple and straightforward, with variations among them: armies of hostile aliens have begun invading the Earth, killing and enslaving the human race. The "mise en scène" and trappings of the game closely mirror those of the classic ITV television series "UFO". Despite the clichéd setup, the implementation is serious and carefully detailed to give an "authentic" impression.

In all the games, the player is put in command of X-COM (Extraterrestrial Combat), the international military organization set up in 1999 (the near future during the original game's release in 1993). By defending X-COM's funding countries (initially Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Nigeria, Russia, Spain, UK, USA) from enemy invasion, the force gains monetary support. Any nation may quit, if X-COM's service is deemed unsatisfactory or the nation's government has been infiltrated by the invaders. Through scientific research of recovered alien artifacts, X-COM is able to develop better and more powerful weapons, armor and vehicles to combat the alien menace, and eventually uncover their true nature.

The game takes place within two main views: the Geoscape and the Battlescape, a dichotomy that is the hallmark of the entire series. The Geoscape consists of a global view of the earth from space. The player can view the X-COM bases (in various locations on Earth), make changes to them, equip X-COM aircraft, order supplies and personnel, direct research efforts, schedule manufacturing of advanced equipment, and sell alien artifacts to raise money. From this view the player also directs interceptor and troop transport aircraft on their missions. The Geoscape is continual and not turn-based.

Gameplay switches to the isometric combat view of the Battlescape whenever X-COM personnel come in contact with alien units. This can result from investigating downed enemy space ships, combating alien terrorist activities, or attacking alien bases discovered during play; aliens may also manage to attack and infiltrate one of the X-COM bases. In the Battlescape view, X-COM combatants are pitted against the alien enemies. In addition to personnel, the player may have vehicles such as HWP unmanned ground vehicles outfitted with powerful weapons and heavy armor, but not gaining experience points in battles. Instead of experience points, the combatants gain points in skills like PSI or Morale (random amount depending on how much of the action they did). This mode is turn-based and each combatant has a number of "time units" which can be expended each turn. When all alien forces have been neutralized, the mission is scored based on number of X-COM units killed, civilians saved or killed, aliens killed or captured, and the number and quality of alien artifacts obtained.

The series

The complete series includes these titles:
* "" (1993) (also known as "UFO: Enemy Unknown" and "X-Com Enemy Unknown")
* "" (1995)
* "" (1997)
* "" (1998)
* "" (1999)
* "" (2001)

The first two games are undeniably the most popular and most successful of the series,Fact|date=March 2008 and the first was named "Game of the Year" by many gaming magazines.Fact|date=March 2008 "Apocalypse" took several new directions with the series. It introduced a real-time combat system, in addition to a modified turn-based system that drew considerable criticism,Fact|date=March 2008 and the aesthetics were shifted to a less grim and more futuristic style. After "Interceptor", Hasbro Interactive purchased MicroProse and acquired the X-COM brand.

Two more titles were planned for this series. Both were aborted when Hasbro shut down Hasbro Interactive in 1999 and 2000.
* ""
* ""

Hasbro sold all of its Hasbro Interactive intellectual property to Infogrames (now Atari) when it shut down the studios. In 2005, Take-Two Interactive acquired the rights to the X-COM series from Atari. [ [http://assignments.uspto.gov/assignments/q?db=tm&reel=3102&frame=0242 Trademark Assignment Details] for Atari from the United States Patent and Trademark Office] There are unconfirmed rumors that Irrational Games (who are owned by Take-Two) may be developing a new X-COM title. [ [http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/45797 "Irrational Games Developing X-COM Title?" article] from "Shacknews"]

team release

In May 2007, a representative of 2K Games (a subsidiary of Take-Two) declared on the "Steam" forums that they had inherited the "X-Com" franchise. In light of this, 2K Games re-released "X-Com: Terror from the Deep" on Steam with support for Windows XP only. In September 2008, "X-Com: UFO Defense", "Apocalypse", "Interceptor", and "Enforcer" were re-released. As of April 2008 "X-Com: Terror from the Deep" can no longer be purchased from "Steam" outside of North America. The reason for this is currently unknown, although it should be purchasable through Steam again in the future. (Note September 2008:, "X-Com: Terror from the Deep" was purchasable via Steam in Australia, either by itself or as part of the X-Com Complete Pack. It was also available to purchase via Steam in Sweden).

On October 6th, 2008, Steam released an update for "Terror from the Deep", which enabled Windows Vista support.

Attempt at an unofficial remake

' was a canceled game for PC and PlayStation 2 by the authors of the original game (Mythos Games), claimed to having been "essentially a remake of the first "X-Com" with 3D graphics".cite web | title =XCom UFO creators strategy game Laser Squad Nemesis | publisher =Codo Technologies | url =http://www.lasersquadnemesis.com/AboutUs.htm | format =HTML | accessdate =2007-11-26 ] The game was eventually canceled and Mythos Games ceased to exist. In 2001 Virgin Interactive, who possessed "Dreamland" rights, prompted the Czech developer Altar Interactive to restart production on the PC version. The game was however renamed to ' and few elements of the original "Freedom Ridge" project remained (even the game engine was completely different in the final product).

"Spiritual" successors

Because of the games' popularity, other game developers have created games similar in theme and tone of the "X-COM" games. The level to which they borrow from the original series varies.

*' is a 2003 singleplayer game heavily influenced by the "X-COM" series. During its development, the developers solicited comments from the "X-COM" fan community. It has since been followed by two sequels, ' in 2005 and "" in 2007.
*In 2005, developer Codo Technologies (made up of several members of the original "X-COM" team), and publisher Namco released "" for the Game Boy Advance.
*"" by Chaos Concept aimed to be an unofficial sequel to the "X-COM" series.
*"" is a free open source computer game, heavily influenced by "X-COM: UFO Defense".
*" [http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/18206 X-Com: Tactical] " is a free boardgame, aiming to reproduce the squad tactics element of "X-COM: UFO Defense". It also borrows the graphics from the original.

Accolades

*"X-COM" appeared as #22 on "Computer Gaming World"'s list of the best games of all time in 1996.
*"X-COM: UFO Defense" was voted "best PC game of all time" by the staff of IGN in 2007.cite web | title =Top 25 PC Games of All Time | publisher =IGN | date =March 16, 2007 | url =http://pc.ign.com/articles/772/772285p1.html | format =HTML | accessdate = 2007-04-05 ] It also appeared as #21 on IGN's "Top 100 Games of All Time" list the same year.cite web | title =Top 100 Games of all Time | publisher =IGN | date =November 28, 2007 | url =http://top100.ign.com/2007/ign_top_game_21.html | format =HTML | accessdate = 2007-11-29 ]

Intellectual property

The trademark for the X-COM intellectual property (IP) was filed on May 25 1995 by MicroProse Software, Inc.

Following the acquisition and subsequent merger of MicroProse Software, Inc. with Hasbro Interactive, the X-COM IP was also transferred to Hasbro Interactive on August 19 1998.

Due to financial difficulties, 100% of Hasbro Interactive was sold to the French concern Infogrames Entertainment SA on January 29 2001. As part of this transfer, the X-COM IP was legally transferred to Infogrames on December 21 2001. Shortly thereafter, Infogrames was renamed Atari Inc., able to do this since acquiring several Atari IPs from Hasbro Interactive.

In 2005 Infogrames/Atari transferred several IPs to Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. and X-COM was transferred with them on June 12 2005.

The X-COM IP is currently owned by Take-Two and its subsidiaries. [ [http://assignments.uspto.gov/assignments/q?db=tm&qt=sno&reel=&frame=&sno=74679753&rno=&asnr=&asnri=&asne=&asnei=&asns=&apct=&apcti=&rgst=&rgsti= Trademark Assignment Abstract of Title] from the United States Patent and Trademark Office]

ee also

* Elerium-115 - fictional material and the alien energy source in the X-COM universe
* "": a game for the Gameboy Advance by the same developers, very similar to the Battlescape in X-Com
* "Laser Squad": The original sci-fi strategy game by the developers of "X-COM"
* "Laser Squad Nemesis": a multiplayer game from the original creators of "X-COM"
* "UFO": a TV series that heavily influenced the plot of "X-COM"
* 1995 by Diane Duane
* 1997 by Vladimir Vasilyev

References

External links

* [http://www.devisraad.com/xcom/ Devisraad.com's X-Com page] : The oldest X-Com website still on the web. Has been dormant for years, but still hosts unique content including new ship maps for X-Com 1 & 2, plus a bunch of game tools & utilities for the first 3 games.
* [http://www.ufopaedia.org/ UFOPaedia] : An extensive wiki containing information, analysis, strategy, and other resources for the X-COM series of games.
*moby game|id=-group/x-com-series|name=The "X-COM" series
* [http://www.xcomufo.com/gameinfo.html An in-depth description of the first game of the series] with numerous screenshots
* [http://www.xcomufo.com/ XCOMUFO.com] : Another X-COM fan site with numerous resources and patches for the Windows versions of the X-COM games
* [http://www.thelastoutpost.co.uk/games/dave-ellis-early-days Dave Ellis Interview] : A three-part interview with Dave Ellis, the game designer of "X-COM: Interceptor" and "X-COM: Genesis"
* [http://www.thelastoutpost.co.uk/games/bob-kathman-reveals-all Bob Kathman Interview] : An interview with Bob Kathman, a graphic artist on the team behind the ill-fated "X-COM: Alliance"
* [http://www.strategycore.co.uk/xcom/ StrategyCore.co.uk] : News, fan-fiction, files, forums and more (formerly X-COM.co.uk)
* [http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&group=alt.games.x-com alt.games.x-com Newsgroup via Google groups]
* [http://ufo2000.sf.net UFO 2000] open source, multi-player remake of original X-COM


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