X-Com Diary – Terror Down Under

By: Tom Hatfield

Published: September 6, 2010 Posted in: Game Reports, Starting X-Com
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Hello and welcome to the fourth instalment in Gaming Daily’s attempt to save the world! We’ve now made it to the end of the month, and that means we get our report card.

At the end of each month the council of funding nations decides how well you’ve protected the earth from the scum of the universe and adjust your spending accordingly. Since we’ve set up shop in the US we’re not getting intel on attacks far from home, and as a result of this the Australian government has pulled a little of our funding, since they’re the other side of the bloody world I don’t think there’s much we can do about that…

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… or can we?

Terror Attacks are a special kind of alien attack designed to… well to terrorise the populace, aliens swoop down with a large force, occupy a city and hang around for a while, if no-one does anything they kill everyone and leave. The message seems to be “don’t fuck with us”.

I intend to fuck with them.

Terror missions are also bloody hard, you fight in a large area, there’s no UFO, and panicking civilians run around all over the place. Dead civilians are bad PR, but it can and will happen, war is hell soldier. The biggest difference on Terror Missions however is that aliens will bring out specialist ‘Terror Units‘ which are generally a hell of a lot tougher than regular aliens. We’ve only encountered one alien species so far, the Sectiods, who field the formidable Cyberdisc, much like an alien version of our tanks. Taking one on with our level of technology is probably not the best strategy, but I intend to do it anyway.

NB: If you get a terror mission and don’t think you can handle it, you’ll get far better PR if you fly over there, start the mission and take off straight away than if you ignore it.

Let’s go.

We land as normal and perform our standard disembark only for the tank to spot an alien lurking just around the corner from the plane.

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I consider shooting at it, but seeing as it has failed to take a reaction shot at the tank it must be facing the wrong way, so I move on and get the boys out to shoot it. At which point it fires a volley of reaction fire at Craig, missing him by inches and smacking right into the side of the Skyranger.

Christ that was close.

However now that he’s out of shots I can safely move people up to take care of him, Scout Millen does the honours and sends a hail of autofire down the narrow alley, taking the alien out, as well as one behind it. Nice going. The second shooter manages to get a reaction shot off, but amazingly this does hardly anything despite hitting Paul straight in the face. It must have bounced off his manly, manly jaw.

The tank moves out, testing the waters and finds another alien, this time lurking well off the side. He’s well out of range so Sniper Senior, crack shot (yet to hit) steps up… and misses, his second attempt… hits! But isn’t enough to down the alien, and it’s up to Craig Lager to finish him off with a precise shot.

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At some point during the alien turn a weird light shines on Richard Cobbett, who is still in the Skyranger. Mind control? I don’t have much experience with it, and it seems to have failed, so I might as well carry on. I can’t yet recognise enemy leaders anyway, I’ll need to research mind probes for that.

Once again the tank moves up and spots a target, this time hiding by a white picket fence like the quintessential Australian he is. There’s a civilian near him, so it is both essential I down the alien (aliens will shoot at civilians in terror missions, their turn is full the sound of shots and horrible screaming) and that I not use heavy weapons lest I kill him myself. Snipers Senior and Yang both fire their rifles at the foe, with Yang getting the killing blow.

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The alien turn is getting shorter, now the tank moves left to comb that area, spotting another loitering alien. This time Yang doesn’t finish the job, and veteran alien killer Ed moves around to assist. Another pesky alien down, and their turn is now really short. Either there aren’t any left or they’re not moving much. I’ve not seen a cyberdisc yet, I’m worried.

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Another alien is spotted to the bottom of the screen. He’s in an awkward position for our snipers to get to, so rather than relying the dubious accuracy of Sniper Senior, I march Jaz out of the plane to do what he does best, blow shit up. There don’t appear to be any civilians in range, and he’s standing next to a wall, making him a prime rocket target. Jaz actually hits a tree several metres in front of the alien, but catches him on the edge of the resulting blast. A second later a civilian toddles into the smoking crater and looks around befuddled. Boy that was close.

But there’s something even worse lurking in that smoking crater, something… terrifying.

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A cyberdisc!

If this thing gets any shots off it can really ruin my day. All I’ve got going for me is a couple of rocket launchers and the fact that it’s far enough away that it’ll probably only be able to take out the tank on the first turn. Still I am suitably jumpy as I order Jaz to reload while Tim steps up.

First rank! Fire!

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Kaboom!

Cyberdiscs auto destruct when they die, couple that with a rocket launcher and the previous turn’s impact and I’ve truly levelled the bottom left of the map here. Move over Jaz, there’s a new building exploder in town. As I hit the end of the turn the alien movement makes me jump out of my seat as a shot comes from nowhere to just miss Paul Millen’s head, then there’s an explosion on the map and it’s all over. I’m not sure what happened, maybe the alien blew himself up with a grenade? Anyway, I’ll certainly take this.

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Ladies and gentlemen of Perth, Australia, the day is saved, please go about your daily business. If you have a spare moment please consider writing to your elected representative and asking him to lobby for more money for shadowy governmental anti-UFO organisations.

Consider the day saved.

Tom Hatfield