Gank (of the blog of licious repute) has thrown down a kind gauntlet here on my blog…a gauntlet throw which stubbed my toe so hard I felt driven to not only accept, but to further extend this challenge to the rest of you. Here’s the deal.
XCOM drops on Tuesday and my plan – since I realized it was possible – is to play from the get-go in Classic (hard mode) Ironman (one save, it’s automatic, you cannot choose to restore a state from before you screwed up) mode. When Gank spelled that out for me, I knew it was destiny. The goal is to make it as far as we can on our first play through in this unforgiving mode of play.
It’s going to be nasty. I’ve watched a lot of footage and I’ve come to appreciate differences between the different game modes.
- In Easy mode, aliens are cool hanging out next to burning cars, which will inevitably explode and kill them. They do seem to take cover.
- In Normal mode, they usually (but not always) take cover, and tend to bunch up. They definitely shy away from burning cars.
- In Impossible mode, they are more numerous, always take cover, and spread out, like a god damned SWAT team with superior numbers and fire power. They hate you and they are motivated and intelligent.
When one of your soldiers die, that soldier is gone, taking their experience (and possibly some of their equipment…that’s not year clear to me) with them. Ironman mode means I can’t just reload and replay the level in an effort to save them. They die…they’re gone.
“That’s XCOM, baby.”
Full disclosure: I have never played an XCOM title before. Many of you (including Gank, managed to beat Terror from the Deep) have. My only real deep experience with a high-stress, tactical, squad-based game is the Left 4 Dead series. There are some fundamental differences here that I’d like to enumerate:
- Zombies do not have guns.
- Zombies do not have grenades.
- Zombies do not use tactics.
So, to prepare myself, I have watched every single video on Youtube connected to the game. No, really. If I search for “xcom enemy unknown” on youtube now, they’re all purple; the links all be clicked. That’s easily ten hours worth of game play I’ve seen. Probably more. I have also spent some time reading through this SWAT tactics manual. I skipped to the movement part, which is an interesting read. I feel that I’ve reached a new, undiscovered level of nerddom.
Here’s how it’s going to work.
I am going to report, as regularly as I am able, how my team is doing. I have gone so far as to take a personal day on Wednesday – the day after release – so I can play it for the entire day. Assuming I can break my XCOM trance, I’ll post little bits about how my team is doing.
I actually don’t recall seeing how time is measured in the game insofar as the player sees it; I see the event log and each event with a count-down (in days) next to it…but I haven’t yet seen a “This many days elapsed” readout. It’s got to be somewhere. I’ll report that number when my team meets its fate…whatever that may be.
The beauty here is that we all win, because we’re playing freaking XCOM.
Let me know how your team is doing. 🙂 May we all do very well, and save our respective human populaces from total annihilation.