Hasbro Interactive em@il Games: X-COM -- First Alien Invasion is an interesting -- though slow moving -- game which is a good deal of fun. Playing it is a bit like playing chess by mail, though not nearly as difficult.
To be honest, when I first loaded the game onto my machine, I was not excited. Without some real opponents to go up against, X-COM -- First Alien Invasion has almost no value. You cannot play it alone, and that is somewhat disappointing.
Still, after I had sent e-mail to a few of my friends, inviting them to join me in a game, the fun did pick up. I found myself searching for better strategies, hiding my characters, and generally trying to outwit my opponent.
While X-COM -- First Alien Invasion is a simple game of killing your opponents before they kill you, there are many strategies to be explored. Typically, if you simply advance at your opponent and try to kill his or her team, your opponent will outlast you. There are times to shoot, and there are times to hide. To be successful playing this game, you need to figure out those times very quickly.
Graphically, X-COM -- First Alien Invasion is below average. The simple two-dimensional graphics in X-COM are far behind its contemporaries. Still, this game was developed so users with low-end machines could still play. So, the old school graphics should be expected. Maybe they could be better, but it probably would not add anything to game play.
The sound in X-COM -- First Alien Invasion is shaky and erratic. The sounds of footsteps, gun blasts, and screams are all that you hear. Even these simple sounds are not connected. The sound does not flow in this game, and that detracts from its enjoyment factor.
As I said previously, I did not think I'd like X-COM -- First Alien Invasion when I first installed it. When I got into a serious game with a friend several hundred miles away, however, I was hooked. I could not wait to check my e-mail to see if he had sent his turn to me. When it was there, I was truly excited.
I was surprised to see how small the X-COM -- First Alien Invasion e-mail attachments were. In the several games I played with friends, all of the attachments were less than two kilobytes each. Each turn takes only a few seconds to download.
While playing X-COM -- First Alien Invasion via e-mail is enjoyable, I wondered why players could not simply play online. It took me several attempts to find a friend willing to play via e- mail, and I could not convince my wife to play X-COM -- First Alien Invasion in "Hotseat Mode." If Hasbro offered a directory or message board where X-COM -- First Alien Invasion players could meet and play, then the game would have much more replay value. Of course, some people might argue that I simply need more friends.
Overall, X-COM -- First Alien Invasion is a fun game that folks can play via very slow e-mail connections. Can't connect at 56K? No problem. If you can send and receive e-mail, you can play this game and have some fun.
Graphics: X-Com's graphics are weaker than other late 1990s games, but they serve their purpose and keep the game accessible to gamers with low end machines.
Sound: The sound in X-Com is shaky and disjointed. The effects are short and do not flow into one another. It almost seems like a waste of time to even include the sound with this game.
Enjoyment: I have to admit that this game won me over fairly quickly. It has no stand-alone value, but as a two-player e-mail battle, it is quite fun.
Replay Value: The diverse scenarios provide for many matches for any two players. If you and a friend get hooked, plan on playing for a while.
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