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Jango's UFO: Extraterrestrials review
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  1. #1

    Default Jango's UFO: Extraterrestrials review


    Back in the day things were simpler ..

    We had soda streams that let you fizz up boring drinks. We had space hoppers - a giant orange ball with a painted face and horns you could hold on to which let you make satifying noises as you bounced around in the back garden. We had leg warmers. We had Boy George .. er .. yeah .. *cough*. Oh, and the most fun we had with computers was writing '58008' on a calculator so it spelt 'boobs' when turned upside down. The point is some things seem very simple and innocent when you look back on them, no matter when you were born. These days we have incredibly complex RTS games with amazing graphics, dynamic sound effects, and an atmosphere that could be straight out of a cinema. Things were simpler than this once, much simpler, but no less engaging.

    Being somewhat in a nostalgic mood I picked up UFO Extraterrestrials (which I'll call UFOET from now on to prevent a multitude of typos later on). UFOET is a turn-based RTS from the significantly influencial school of XCOM style games .. but .. how does it cut it these days? Or is it like Boy George, a pale and scary immitation of itself throwing doubt over our quaint recollections ..


    Gameplay overview

    UFOET is set around a fictional planet where you must manage, expand, and defend your civilisation against the threat of naughty alien beasties. That's it, it's not a complex scenario ..

    UFOET is effectively split into 3 sections: global gameplay, base management, and ground missions. Each one of these relies on the next as you'll see, and each brings with it its own challenges.

    Global Gameplay

    This part of the game is effectively a view of the planet surface. From here you can intercept UFOs, build new bases, and, well, that's it .. yay. Certain colonies will pay you to save them from an impending or active invasion or destroying a UFO over their territory. This in turn enables you to further your own base's development.

    Base Management

    Each base is effectively a grid to which you can asign buildings from hangars, laboratories, workshops, living quarters and more. Each buildings needs a certain amount of time to complete, and a few can be upgraded to enchance their performance.

    Your laboratories can be used to research both human and alien technology for use on your ships, your base, or your squad. Each research project takes a certain amount of time and money to complete, and eventually becomes a challenge in itself as you need to be strategic in your research choices.

    Workshops work in a similar was to laboratories in that once things are researched you then assign people to build the items themselves. You get to build everything from plasma and stun grenades to rifles, ammo, armour, ground and air vehicles, and more. You can also sell of old technology to help fund new research projects.


    Also on the base view there's the opportunity to equip units. At your main base you can house around 20 soldiers who you can equip different set-ups to so that when you go on ground missions you have a decent array of weaponary to hopefully defeat the enemy. The equip screen is a pretty basic mannequin-type set-up where you simply drag and drop gear to use it. Your ground units don't have to use the same weapons, so it allows you to set up mixed squads to confront the varied aliens you'll encounter. Likewise you can also equip your air units with upgraded shields, rockets, and canons. As you go through the game and research superior technology, then manufacture it, you can then equip it stragiht away at your base.

    Ground Missions

    Once you uncover a mission you can then land a squad to wipe out the alien threat. You start off in your troop carrier, and can then move out each squad member one at a time to search for aliens. It's often a good idea to split your main group into fire-teams of 2 to 3 soldiers each, this allows you to move rapidly across the map towards the location of the downed UFO in an attempt to funnel the aliens into a crossfire. As you move your units you will clear away the fog of war, and if an alien is seen the action will pause so you can react. You can they kill the alien, or try to stun it - stunned aliens can then be interrogated back on your base (so long as you have an alien containment unit built on your base) to uncover intelligence or alien technology.

    Now, this is a turn-based game on the ground missions, so each time you move, shoot, throw or a grenade or anything else you expend 'action points'. You don't have to use all of your points each turn, and sometimes leaving some available when the aliens take their turn is a good idea because it lets your units shoot back if engaged.

    Once you complete a mission there's a chance one or more of your squad will be promoted. Promotion awards 5 extra points that you can assign to the units health, agility (or how many action points they have), shooting (i.e. accuracy), strength (how much the unit can carry and whether they can use heavy weaponary), reactions (how fast a unit reacts when engaged by aliens in the aliens' turn) and throwing (how accurate and how far a unit can throw grenades or explosive devices). Even if you lose a squad member and have to recruit a new one it only takes one mission for them to be award a bunch of points to help catch them up to your other units, so you don't have squad members lagging behind others.


    In space no-one can hear you own?

    So, now you have a basic run-down of the game .. it's not complex, it's not cinematic, it isn't the best game ever, it's graphics are simple but effective, it's sound is straight forward and unfussy ... BUT, what it is is a classic. The gameplay here is the same you might find in more developed games like C&C, Starcraft, Age of Empires, Company of Heroes, and a whole bunch more. Games like XCOM, which UFOET is a direct port of, is where it all came from, and the basis of which much more sophisticated games are built on.

    However, despite the games dated look and feel it still plays really well, and because games last a long time (sometimes over a week) you can dip in and out in between other games. It's oddly addictive, and kind've shows up more polished, modern games that have generally centred on graphics or story over gameplay. Some games just manage to get it right, and even when you go back to them you can admire how right they'd got it .. UFOET is one of those games.

    UFOET is available in the shops still, and is currently a special on Steam for just over 10/$14, and comes with a sophisticated set of mods to enhance the gameplay even further. For that money you could do worse than get hold of a classic piece of gameplay history that is oddly still enjoyable today.


    7.5/10
    Classic, no frills, and deeply addictive gaming

  2. #2
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    haha cheers jango. yet another good review, thanks for making remember some things of by childhood 58008 ftw

  3. #3
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    well darn, now I have to add another game to the massive list Im trying to play.

    Thanks for the review. Never played it, have seen it before and I was actually sad that I never found out about it. Like a hole in gaming history that I can now fill.

    Oh, Your Euro is actually worth about double out standard currency in dollars. So its more like $20. But that's ok it just means our products are cheaper when traded overseas. =P
    Last edited by BobTD; 02-27-2010 at 07:20 PM.
    "Prediction: Zenimax Online is making an MMO set in the elder scrolls universe" -BobTD 8-25-2010 (search it on the forum)

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobTD View Post
    Oh, Your Euro is actually worth about double out standard currency in dollars.
    i'm from the UK mate, we don't use the euro .. that's a british pound symbol in my review

    thanks guys for the comments, glad you enjoyed it

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jango View Post
    i'm from the UK mate, we don't use the euro .. that's a british pound symbol in my review

    thanks guys for the comments, glad you enjoyed it
    My apologies. My grandmother still sends me money in pounds once a year so I should probably remember that. Hopefully my exchange rate is more accurate, it should be considering how I at least pay attention to that...

    Now I feel awful and have to write my granny.
    "Prediction: Zenimax Online is making an MMO set in the elder scrolls universe" -BobTD 8-25-2010 (search it on the forum)

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