XCOM. Enemy of old

Squad Leader: Marcello Vezzosi
Commander: Alex Isabelle
Central Officer and Chief Scientist: Carlo Alberto Magnani

Year 199X: the Earth is in danger.

A confederation of alien races from Mars shows up in the lower Earth orbit with a clear goal: the total subjugation of the human race.

The initial military response of the various countries of the world is immediately unable to cope with such a global emergency. In fact, nothing seems to be able to stem the arrival of the increasingly numerous flying saucers that explore the planet in search of the most suitable points for the landing of the occupying troops. Realizing that the only way to deal with this offensive is to join forces, the governments of Earth establish XCOM, an administratively independent institution, backed by massive funds from all six continents. The best among the soldiers of all the armed forces on the planet are recruited, and, with a titanic joint research and development effort, a good number of Interceptors, newly designed fighter aircraft capable of fighting almost on a par with ships from outer space, are made available to it.

XCOM agents.

The XCOM base is placed in Australia due to its proximity to an experimental Gauss cannon that must be defended at all costs, capable of easily neutralizing a limited amount of UFOs arriving from Earth's outer orbit. The alien offensive, from the start of the game, however, does not focus on Australia, but on South America, where the first bridgehead of the Martian invasion is established. Most of the flying saucers will be shipped here immediately; a smaller number will instead attempt to land in Oceania, Europe and Africa; Asia and North America, on the other hand, will not be of particular interest to the Martians.

While threats in Oceania, Africa and Europe are promptly eliminated - in the first case by the aforementioned Gauss cannon, in the second and third cases by the precious Interceptors - in South America the situation is a little more complicated. While one of the flying saucers in the South American skies is shot down, the other manages to destroy the XCOM Interceptor, which then loses control of the Brazilian skies. Panic is sowed immediately and the OAS reveals its despair, immediately threatening to withdraw its financial support from XCOM; something needs to be done.

The battle rages in the skies of Europe,
Africa and South America.

As for ground combat, the XCOM base is initially attacked by a small number of aliens, yet difficult to manage: a Muton - a large humanoid artificially engineered for combat - and a Chryssalid - an insect capable of implanting embryos in dead human bodies. The couple of aliens are killed, but at the cost of a couple of soldiers, a heavy price to pay. A small group of soldiers is sent to attack the alien base in the Brazilian forests, where the secret officer who commands it, the typical gray alien, is eliminated, not before killing another of the human soldiers. To avoid further losses, the other XCOM agent is returned to base, awaiting future instructions.

The next round represents perhaps the most critical phase of the war: the FBI shows up at the XCOM laboratories ordering to deliver the bodies of the slain aliens, a fact that fills the researchers with distress and the military leaders with anger. The latter, in fact, had done their utmost to bring some of the killed aliens back to the base. The officers take it out on the XCOM bureaucrats, arguing that more needs to be done to power the Earth's war machine, or else here the Martians will find an advantage. At this point the company administration unlocks a fair amount of emergency funds, using them immediately to recruit new soldiers who can replace the deceased ones, and to build a new Interceptor.

Meanwhile, the aliens conduct an air advance not too dissimilar to the previous one: a large number of flying saucers are sent to the same continents as before, and the response of the interceptors and the Gauss cannon goes exactly as it had been before. Four aliens appear instead at the door of the Australian base, and only the joint effort of five soldiers will be able to repel them. The only one of them to die will be, ironically, the only elite soldier at the disposal of XCOM, an agent who during the first phase of the war was sent to carry out specialized training. Meanwhile, due to the lack of alien finds to be analyzed, technological research stagnates.

A Chryssalid and a Muton attach the Australian base.

The third round is the one in which the game takes a different turn: the funds are scarce, and the research team is informed that for some time only a very limited amount of money will be spent on recruiting new scientists. Nonetheless, new hyper-technological weapons finally arrive from the laboratories that finally put the soldiers in a position to fight almost on a par with the aliens. At the same time, a Firestorm, a new model of Interceptor that combines alien and terrestrial technologies, comes out of the Australian hangars. It is an extremely more efficient medium than Interceptors, but there is only one of them. It is immediately used in South America, where one of the two flying saucers that have arrived is immediately shot down. The other, however, no, resists the attack, only to be diverted to Earth's orbit by some unspecified technologies created by researchers. Thanks also to this, the South American alien base is finally attacked again and, this time, destroyed. This reassures South American investors, who finally stop jabbering about withdrawing their funds from XCOM.

Realizing that humans are catching up, the Martians send an astonishing amount of UFOs to Earth. Europe continues to be inviolable, as does Australia, which is flown  over by several flying saucers. This distracts XCOM's attentions from South America, where only two Interceptors are left to fight alone; they are simultaneously destroyed by the alien sa in the final moments of the aerial duel. The South American sky is once again safe, but the price for this was very high.

After a quick attack on a second, small, alien base, XCOM begins preparing for an occupation of Mars. Even more powerful weapons emerge from the research centers thanks to the new economic endowment of the organization, which to prepare for the final effort unlocks all the remaining emergency funds and uses them to enormously strengthen the earth's war machine. Much of this money is spent on ammunition: a large contingent of soldiers is then fully armed and sent to the main base on Mars.

The two elite units that took charge
of the infiltration on Mars.

The battle is tough and involves soldiers of all ranks and levels of experience. XCOM units are now equipped with support agents capable of performing paramedic functions, crucial for saving the lives of the men on the front line, and two elite soldiers, who are needed to carry out the first infiltration inside the Martian base. The next phase, which involves all the heavy troops at disposal of the terrestrials, allows to definitively take control of the central infrastructures of the base, subdue the alien leaders, and give the final blow to the Martian offensive.

After months of fighting to the death in the skies of South America, of very rapid research on alien weapons, of painful losses among the best soldiers on Earth, the message is clear: the planet is safe. The war is over.

Do you want to read other stories? Click here for the full list.


Popular posts from this blog

The Mission. On the Copts and their natural tendency towards heresy (part 4 of 6)

The Mission. On the Copts and their natural tendency towards heresy (part 5 of 6)

The Mission. On the Copts and their natural tendency towards heresy (part 1 of 6)