X-COM: Terror From The Deep

Despite the underwater shift, Terror feels more like a skin graft.

Snap57The first X-COM game, UFO Defense, occurred on land. The sequel, Terror from the Deep, was set some decades after the first and took place mostly underwater or in coastal locales. Gameplay-wise it was nearly identical to the first game (even including underwater… grenades?), albeit larger and, according to some, more difficult. Some fans loved it, some hated it, but no one thought it superseded its predecessor.

You’re back in command of the Extraterrestrial Combat Unit, once again defending the earth from alien invaders. The twist — and it could’ve been a good one — is that this time around the aliens have traded in their UFOs for submarines and are attacking us from the world’s oceans.

There’s certainly not much new here. New graphics, sure, and some new names, but they’re just thin disguises for the same weapons, creatures and technology that appeared in X-COM. The Sectoid aliens are now the Aquatoid, in keeping with the game’s primarily undersea action. The Motion Sensor is now the Particle Disturbance Sensor. Hangars are Sub Pens, and Missile Defenses have become Torpedo Defenses. You get the idea.

The only real change in gameplay springs from the fact that you’ll be fighting the aliens on land as well as under the sea. Certain weapons in Terror, like the Hydro-Jet Cannon or the Torpedo Launcher, won’t work on land. That means you’ve got to be sure you have a wide variety of weapons, and that you choose the right ones at the beginning of each mission. It makes Terror a little more challenging than UFO Defense, but since equipping your ships and soldiers is one of the few tedious aspects of the game, it also makes it more frustrating.

There are a few minor changes in Terror from the Deep, but even these aren’t really improvements. You can now click on a soldier’s rank insignia to access his skill ratings from the arming screen; convenient when you’re trying to decide who should get the best weapons or how much equipment each operative can carry. There’s just one hitch: when you right-click the mouse to exit this screen, it doesn’t take you back to the arming screen; it takes you straight into battle.

Snap63Any soldiers you hadn’t armed at this point will have to make do with whatever equipment the computer saw fit to give them, or waste precious movement points by dropping and picking up weapons as the battle rages on around them. It is possible to exit the stat screen without ending the arming stage (you simply click the left mouse button twice) but it’s natural to try right-clicking, since that’s how you exit a menu or cancel an action everywhere else in the game’s combat segments.

Still, this is an X-COM game, and one can see where the designers were going for even though they’ve recycled a bit too much from the first game.

System Requirements: 386/33 MHz, 4 MB RAM, DOS

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Tags: XCOM UFO Defense PC Game Download Review