Putting the 'role' back in role-playing games since 2002.
Donate to Codex
Good Old Games
  • Welcome to rpgcodex.net, a site dedicated to discussing computer based role-playing games in a free and open fashion. We're less strict than other forums, but please refer to the rules.

    "This message is awaiting moderator approval": All new users must pass through our moderation queue before they will be able to post normally. Until your account has "passed" your posts will only be visible to yourself (and moderators) until they are approved. Give us a week to get around to approving / deleting / ignoring your mundane opinion on crap before hassling us about it. Once you have passed the moderation period (think of it as a test), you will be able to post normally, just like all the other retards.

Codex Review TC Retrospective: X-COM: Apocalypse

Whisky

The Solution
Joined
Feb 22, 2012
Messages
8,555
Location
Banjoville, British Columbia
Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera
Tags: MicroProse; Mythos Games; X-COM: Apocalypse

Local Strategy Game expert and veteran potato farmer Darth Roxor has taken it upon himself to do a retrospective of the ever-controversial X-COM Apocalypse. But was it really as bad as people make it out to be? Let's see what he has to say.



Welcome to Mega-Primus. It’s a silly place.​


Hey! Do you know X-COM Apocalypse? Of course you do. It’s that bad rtwp game that killed the X-COM series and gave way to horrible games like Enforcer and Interceptor.

But a much more important question that I would like to ask you today is whether you have actually played Apocalypse. I suspect the most common answer to this will be “no”. I can’t say I blame you. After all, it took me over 15 years to gather the courage to do it myself. I was put off by so many things that I’d heard about it – that it was buggy, unstable, unfinished, nigh-impossible to run, outright bad, etc. For a longer while, I was even certain that it only featured rtwp combat, even though the turn-based mode is still there. But what I found suspicious was just how vague all of that sounded - it felt like Apocalypse was branded as a terrible game simply because it crashed a lot. So after figuring I might as well finally take the plunge, I picked it up at Gaben’s trinket shop (“hey, if it’s on Steam, that should mean it’s playable now!”) and once again took command of X-COM to stop the gosh darn aliens from stealing my freedoms. And I ended up glued to my computer for a whole month.

Read the full article: TC Retrospective: X-COM: Apocalypse
 
In My Safe Space
Joined
Dec 11, 2009
Messages
21,899
Codex 2012
No crushing criticism of shit economy system without reaction to destroying organization buildings and inability to bankrupt them?
No crushing criticism of gimped weapons?
 

Crazed Weevil

Prophet
Joined
Dec 26, 2013
Messages
173
I remember playing this when it first came out, crashes and all...it was good.

There was nothing quite like sending a lone agent into the Cult of Sirius to hunt for implants, getting a good start on stat boosting and walking out without a scratch. Or the Toxin Gun's insane fire rate and the murder & mayhem it could do in close quarters. Or levelling an entire slum block to kill one single head crab because you can't find the fucking thing...
 

Absalom

Guest
INDEED

Also, not mentioning the god awful end game where you have to do 10 missions? :decline:

Real time mode isn't completely worthless, either. For small missions in big buildings, it's actually better to choose RTwP because then the alium AI is MUCH more aggressive, thus ending the mission a lot quicker with no 'last alium hiding in a fucking closet' syndrome bullshit we all hated (This is especially true in Apocalypse, since some buildings are gigantic.)
 

Whisky

The Solution
Joined
Feb 22, 2012
Messages
8,555
Location
Banjoville, British Columbia
Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera
Real Time is only good for dealing with those fucking 1 hit kill headcrabs and the exploding aliens. Your dudes are significantly more competent dealing with them in those modes.
 

Darth Roxor

Rattus Iratus
Staff Member
Joined
May 29, 2008
Messages
1,878,672
Location
Djibouti
No crushing criticism of shit economy system without reaction to destroying organization buildings and inability to bankrupt them?

I felt crushingly criticising the economy when there was also none to begin with in EU/TftD would be a wee bit hypocritical. And if anything, I had to save up cash for a longer time in Apocalypse than I had to in the prequels.

No crushing criticism of gimped weapons?

Which ones? Some of them are merciless murdertools, and some of those you even get from the very start. The only really terrible gun that I can name is the starting sniper rifle - there's no use for that piece of shit whatsoever.

Also, not mentioning the god awful end game where you have to do 10 missions?

I liked it :M

'last alium hiding in a fucking closet' syndrome bullshit we all hated (This is especially true in Apocalypse, since some buildings are gigantic.)

I disagree, I'd say the AI in Apoc is more aggressive than EU/TftD even in turn-based. Most of the aliens will actively try to seek you out, the only exception here being the multiworms, and perhaps spitters. Also, since some of the mapsets get more and more predictable as the game goes on, you can immediately pinpoint places where aliens are certain to hide.
 

Whisky

The Solution
Joined
Feb 22, 2012
Messages
8,555
Location
Banjoville, British Columbia
Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera
Which ones? Some of them are merciless murdertools, and some of those you even get from the very start. The only really terrible gun that I can name is the starting sniper rifle - there's no use for that piece of shit whatsoever.

It's got use. Aesthetics.

xcoma0018.png
 
In My Safe Space
Joined
Dec 11, 2009
Messages
21,899
Codex 2012
No crushing criticism of shit economy system without reaction to destroying organization buildings and inability to bankrupt them?

I felt crushingly criticising the economy when there was also none to begin with in EU/TftD would be a wee bit hypocritical. And if anything, I had to save up cash for a longer time in Apocalypse than I had to in the prequels.
EU/TftD didn't have invincible human countries attacking them until you'd pay them. The whole system was fucked up because orgs could destroy your base and you couldn't their. Also, only you could offer a bribe, while an organization subjected to effective raiding and bombing would probably try bribe X-Com to stop it.

Then there are no civilians during X-Com raids which is odd, because orgs have no qualms about murdering X-Com civilians.

No crushing criticism of gimped weapons?

Which ones? Some of them are merciless murdertools, and some of those you even get from the very start. The only really terrible gun that I can name is the starting sniper rifle - there's no use for that piece of shit whatsoever.
All energy weapons are gimped. Plasma pistol is weaker than in EU, laser is pathetic, disruptor gun is weaker than plasma pistol from EU, Devastator cannon is much weaker than heavy plasma from EU.

Dimension missiles despite being anti-matter based are much weaker than blaster bombs, the same for vortex mines.

Acid spit is pathetic compared to EU celatid acid spit.

To make things worse, human agents have starting health of 40-50 instead of 25-40 like in EU. Which means that besides the initial gimping, weapon damages are effectively 1,6x smaller.
 

Darth Roxor

Rattus Iratus
Staff Member
Joined
May 29, 2008
Messages
1,878,672
Location
Djibouti
EU/TftD didn't have invincible human countries attacking them until you'd pay them. The whole system was fucked up because orgs could destroy your base and you couldn't their. Also, only you could offer a bribe, while an organization subjected to effective raiding and bombing would probably try bribe X-Com to stop it.

Sure, but considering how easy it is to maintain at least unfriendly relations with everyone except the Cult of Sirius, I don't think this is that much of a flaw in practical terms. It sucks that you can't knock them out of the game, yeah, but otoh it's not like everyone is actively out to get you. As with most flaws or unfinished things with Apocalypse, it can be easily avoided.

All energy weapons are gimped. Plasma pistol is weaker than in EU, laser is pathetic, disruptor gun is weaker than plasma pistol from EU, Devastator cannon is much weaker than heavy plasma from EU.

To make things worse, human agents have starting health of 40-50 instead of 25-40 like in EU. Which means that besides the initial gimping, weapon damages are effectively 1,6x smaller.

I disagree as far as disruptor guns and devastator weapons being gimped - they are still pretty potent. Lasers and plasma being 'gimped' makes sense because they are starting guns that are omnipresent, cheap and easy as hell to loot.

And in regard to the second thing, this is where the 'problem' with Apoc lies, not really with the guns themselves, and I noted it as well in the article. The agents are just more beefy all around, including stats and starting gear (seriously, that megapol armour is crazy good), and get even more beefy as the game goes on, particularly due to the personal shields. The shields, in fact, are what perhaps breaks the game the most, and what makes the devastator cannons feel gimped compared to heavy plasmas. If the aliens had a shield-ignoring equivalent of the toxgun, X-COM agents would be in much bigger trouble. But they don't, so they don't, to quote a classic.
 
Joined
Jun 16, 2015
Messages
148
Location
Amerikwa
Honestly, out of the original 3 X-com's with no mods, Apocalypse remains my favorite. Sure, it was never finished and often times turns into a clusterfuck of gigantic proportions, but the difficulty curve kept me on edge and its addicting gameplay is rivaled by very few games. I may prefer OpenXcom in the end, but past that, I loved every second I wasted on this game and don't regret my love for such a mess.

Like Slaughter mentioned, OpenApoc is an open source conversion that may lead to modders being able to add in all of the features that were left out (such as the 8 alien dimensions, sprites based off of the original plans, etc.)

EDIT: And holy shit, that soundtrack (even when it went into full-on meatfuck without any reason.)
 
Last edited:

Luka-boy

Arcane
Joined
Sep 24, 2014
Messages
1,661
Location
Asspain
Thank you very much for the review. Apocalypse is one of my favourite rough gems to play and I revisit it every two or so years simply because it's so damn fun.

Other than small flaws and the constant "what it could have been" thought when I see some hints of unimplemented mechanics now that I know some of the developers' original plans, I don't have many issues with it and definitely think the good things easily overwhelm the bad ones.

That said, I really wish the endgame destroying the main buildings in the alien dimension wasn't so long and inane, but I learned to just claim "I won!" by the time I can safely fly in that dimension and shoot down every single ship there. As far as I'm concerned, my ships bombed every building there and won the war :M

PS: Always relevant Apoc animated .gif.
1265719962834pdrz5.gif
 
Last edited:

profreshinal

Arcane
Joined
Jan 18, 2014
Messages
1,864,548
I always liked the RTwP mode better in apoc. There's something deeply satisfying going through a building, setting up security points with some squads and then blasting the door of a room open, quickly securing it and moving on to the next target. That just felt better in RTwP.
 

Ulrox

Arbiter
Joined
Jul 18, 2014
Messages
363
I love the idea of apocalypse - one big city. Lore is also really cool, and atmosphere is great. I also love the idea of aliens invading from another dimension. That stuff blew my childhood mind back then, and still blows my mind today!
 
In My Safe Space
Joined
Dec 11, 2009
Messages
21,899
Codex 2012
EU/TftD didn't have invincible human countries attacking them until you'd pay them. The whole system was fucked up because orgs could destroy your base and you couldn't their. Also, only you could offer a bribe, while an organization subjected to effective raiding and bombing would probably try bribe X-Com to stop it.

Sure, but considering how easy it is to maintain at least unfriendly relations with everyone except the Cult of Sirius, I don't think this is that much of a flaw in practical terms. It sucks that you can't knock them out of the game, yeah, but otoh it's not like everyone is actively out to get you. As with most flaws or unfinished things with Apocalypse, it can be easily avoided.
Two words:
Elerium Farming.

All energy weapons are gimped. Plasma pistol is weaker than in EU, laser is pathetic, disruptor gun is weaker than plasma pistol from EU, Devastator cannon is much weaker than heavy plasma from EU.

To make things worse, human agents have starting health of 40-50 instead of 25-40 like in EU. Which means that besides the initial gimping, weapon damages are effectively 1,6x smaller.

I disagree as far as disruptor guns and devastator weapons being gimped - they are still pretty potent. Lasers and plasma being 'gimped' makes sense because they are starting guns that are omnipresent, cheap and easy as hell to loot.

And in regard to the second thing, this is where the 'problem' with Apoc lies, not really with the guns themselves, and I noted it as well in the article. The agents are just more beefy all around, including stats and starting gear (seriously, that megapol armour is crazy good), and get even more beefy as the game goes on, particularly due to the personal shields. The shields, in fact, are what perhaps breaks the game the most, and what makes the devastator cannons feel gimped compared to heavy plasmas. If the aliens had a shield-ignoring equivalent of the toxgun, X-COM agents would be in much bigger trouble. But they don't, so they don't, to quote a classic.
No, it's both guns and armour. If guns weren't gimped, megapol armour wouldn't help much to non-HP-bloated soldiers. If devastator cannon would have stats of a heavy plasma or higher, it would take down shield with one shot.
Lasers and plasma would be harder to loot if they'd have stats of EU heavy laser and plasma pistol.

Dimension missile with 200+ damage would also own.

About costs - item costs are seriously fucked up. Craft laser cannon is only 2x more expensive than a light machine gun...
 

Darth Roxor

Rattus Iratus
Staff Member
Joined
May 29, 2008
Messages
1,878,672
Location
Djibouti
How long is it in hours, best case, worst case?

Dunno about best/worst case, but it took me 50 hours. I was experimenting a lot, though.

What the difference between the difficulty levels?

Different layouts of Mega-Primus, initial funding levels, bribe costs and speed of alien invasion.
 

Norfleet

Moderator
Joined
Jun 3, 2005
Messages
12,250
TNo, it's both guns and armour. If guns weren't gimped, megapol armour wouldn't help much to non-HP-bloated soldiers. If devastator cannon would have stats of a heavy plasma or higher, it would take down shield with one shot.
Yes, but consider how much CHEAPER it is for an agent to fire a shot in Apoc. Compared to original X-Com, where an agent can get maybe 2 or 3 good shots, firing a Devastator cannon costs some much smaller fraction of your TU. The standard machine gun is still the best until your AP gets too high, though. 1 TU per shot, so a 70-odd AP agent can hose something down with about 70 bullets, which is enough to chew through anything at point blank and bombard even long-range enemies with enough lead to maim or kill.
 

Thane Solus

Arcane
Joined
Apr 29, 2012
Messages
1,684
Location
X-COM Base
Thanks to Darth Roxor for making this excellent review. I can't help but love Apocalypse despite it having about a million design flaws.

Same here, it wasnt UFO, but it was something very interesting, too bad the game turn into shit after you destroyed the first 2-4 alien buildings, because at that point everything become too easy. Still i think, i finished it 3-5 times, and back in the day when it was launched, man it was fucking overwhelming. Also played with RTWP. (<3 My pentium at 200 mhz) hahah

From what i remember, the project was huge, and due to cuts in the budget they had to hurry the launch, thats why its so unbalanced. Still a flawed gem for me, and i would still play it.

I also liked the new xcoms, with all this flaws, even tho the strategic layers was fucking non existent...

As for xenonauts, its made by non developers and saved by the community. I liked the strategic layer, some of the changes in equipment and research, but i liked more the tactical combat in XCOM EW, even with it retarded flaws.

Good review and shame on you Darth that you didnt played Apoc until this year, also the consoles, retarded company decisions and unproper use of 3d destroyed the next games. Everybody at that point started to explore making retardo games for consoles, which in turn destroyed companies and games. Remember history of Interplay and Brian Fargo?
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 4, 2014
Messages
1,563
A good game and a good review. Agree with it being on par with the original XCOM. Always played with rtwp, big reason for that can be seen in Luka-boy's gif.

I remember one annoying game where Transtellar got infiltrated by aliens and I couldn't recruit anymore guys (or maybe just scientists/engineers?), because they'd just wait for their taxis that never came on the other side of the city, never arriving to my base.
 

*-*/\--/\~

Cipher
Joined
Jul 10, 2014
Messages
926
You made me want to play the game again, I loved it when it came out. It was so full of cool ideas. Imagine a multiplayer version, with each player controlling one faction. :D

Pity about unfinished stuff - if you browse the game directory, you can find pictures of some unused assets.

And multiworms aren't that bad - just kill them with explosives and the blast will take care of all the little spawned shits. ;)
 

NotAGolfer

Arcane
Patron
Joined
Dec 1, 2013
Messages
2,527
Location
Land of Bier and Bratwurst
Divinity: Original Sin 2
But a much more important question that I would like to ask you today is whether you have actually played Apocalypse.
The answer is yes, and I think it's the best XCOM game out there.
People just were retarded faggots as usual.

Can't agree on TB being superior here though when RTwP is just that much more fun. In this particular case with these huge-ass maps full of nooks and crannies and the quite solid RT gameplay TB doesn't feel more tactical either, the options are also there in RT and combat preparation / formations / approach vectors etc is key in both.

Anyway, reinstalling. Which takes 2 minutes in my case, I still have a neat little 361MB archive sitting around on my hardware ready to go with DosBox. :smug:

edit:
Oh lookey, there's even an OpenApocalypse project.
Seems to be in a very early stage though.

edit 2:
Found a really useful looking mod btw, named Roadwar Utility. Claims to make road vehicles somewhat useful at last.
Installed and will try out tomorrow.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 7, 2012
Messages
14,520
Good stuff :bro:

Meanwhile in Apocalypse, the whole city is your little playground of horrors. It has buildings owned by various factions, neutral vehicles flying around, taxis, transport tubes and roads. And all of these are destructible. Indeed, Mega-Primus feels alive, as opposed to just being a strategic map, simply because you can blow it all to kingdom come, even if most of the destroyed infrastructure gets rebuilt in time. But your relations with all the factions in the city sure as hell don’t.

I don't think infrastructure actually gets rebuilt ever. At least not major things, most maps have some major bridges that will get destroyed almost immediately by gangs if not aliens and permanently screw up the traffic. One of my bigger complaints about the city map aside from road vehicles being useless.

Factions have 5 states of relations with X-COM, from allied to hostile. It is generally a good idea not to maintain too many hostilities, particularly with more aggressive groups like gangsters, because a hostile faction will not only cease all trade activity with you, but will also periodically assault your bases. But, on the other hand, enemies make for an excellent secondary source of income if you are running a tight budget because you can also raid their buildings, destroy as much inside to cripple their economies, grab any loot you can find and get out. Thanks to this, you can even do a full “rogue” playthrough and go up against not just the aliens but also the city itself. The senate blocked your funding? Maybe it’s time to go there and take it yourself! It is hellishly difficult to win in this scenario, but the fact alone that you are given such an option is nothing less than amazing.

Should have mentioned that there is a kind of "friend of friend is my friend and enemy of my enemy is my friend" system, which quickly makes diplomacy go completely nonsensical because you can't see the entire matrix of relations factions have, only the relations they have with you. This is why Transtellar gets angry over time even if you do zero city damage, they start with a weak liking of aliens which means that hate you more for every alien you kill which then makes them like the aliens more for every one of your soldiers they kill. For further obscurity the faction relations are also slightly randomized on every game start, so you basically need to download a savegame editor to figure out who likes who.

Unfortunately, holes start appearing in the system once you discover just how many of the organisations are actually expendable. Better relations with a faction mean upholding their services and getting a higher quantity of goods you can buy from them on the market, whether it’s fuel, soldiers or guns, but out of the 25, 13 don’t produce anything, making them nothing more than magnets for alien infiltration. Furthermore, the entire diplomatic layer of the game rather quickly degenerates into a bribery simulator, since bribes are the only reliable ways of improving relations, and peddling alien artifacts quickly gets you enough cash to keep every faction right where you want it to be (although putting alien guns on the market gives hostile factions the opportunity to buy them and use them against you!). It’s quite obvious that the diplomacy in Apocalypse was meant to be much deeper, but it probably was the first thing that ended up on the chopping block during the game’s troubled development.

Did you play Superhuman? The costs to bribe factions goes up immensely, around 100k for a single level of improvement.

Second, a few of them are annoying as hell. Take the multiworm. It’s a hp-bloated vagina dentata with an acid spit attack. It has the 3rd highest alien health count in the game, but can be encountered from the very start. The only way you can reliably eliminate those without shooting them from afar for half an hour is spraying them with autofire from point blank. But the trick is that these shits spawn 4 little hyperworms on death, and those buggers appear with full time unit pools and high reactions, meaning the next action your agent takes will likely result in his instant death.
Stun em.

Normally, degenerate tactics like these would get stopped by the threat of reaction fire, but this is also not the case in Apocalypse. You have to remember your agents start with good armour, so a single shot won’t bring them down. They also get personal shield generators later on, making them even more sturdy. Plus, most aliens have terrible reaction scores and TUs. And finally, reactions are not limited only to shooting anymore. There are a few AI protocols for reacting to enemy actions, and while at first it might seem impressive that a unit will interrupt another one to move behind cover or even dodge a fired shot, these TUs would often be better spent simply blowing the enemy’s head off, especially since the new reactions also permit the unit to shoot multiple times before letting an enemy act again. This happens often when you set your agents to “aggressive” mode, which prioritises shooting over movement. In these cases, a duo of agents with high reactions can unload their whole magazines in a wild shootout after spotting an alien before letting it act again.

Reaction fire is actually arguably "bugged". The problem is that a unit can only save a max of 20 (IIRC, though it might have been % based) of their TUs for reaction rather than the full TUs. Probably was a hacky solution to stop players from forcing to spend 10 mins on alien turn watching their own soldiers fire 50 MG shots for every step an alien takes (which would also screw their ammo supply). My assumption is that the alien reaction scores were lowered first and then after putting in the 20 TU cap no one bothered to raise their reactions back up, because the 20 TU cap completely kills the reaction ability of aliens that are normally faster and could slaughter your soldiers in close quarters.

On the flip side, the 20 TU cap is ONLY enforced at end of turn - which is why when a brainsucker spawns from being shot at you or a multiworm lets out 4 hyperworms, they have their full TUs to use as reaction. This means that hyperworms that just came out of a multiworm have at least 4x as many TUs as hyperworms encountered in the wild, and is why Brainsuckers can still ignore your huge-reactions soldier with their 9 reaction score - because your reduced TUs give a huge penalty to reacting.
 
Last edited:

As an Amazon Associate, rpgcodex.net earns from qualifying purchases.
Back
Top Bottom