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X-COM: UFO Defense

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Title Screen

X-COM: UFO Defense

Also known as: UFO: Enemy Unknown (EU)
Developer: Mythos Games
Publisher: MicroProse
Platforms: DOS, Amiga, PlayStation, Windows
Released internationally: 1994


AreasIcon.png This game has unused areas.
GraphicsIcon.png This game has unused graphics.
ItemsIcon.png This game has unused items.
Sgf2-unusedicon1.png This game has unused abilities.
MusicIcon.png This game has unused music.
SoundIcon.png This game has unused sounds.
TextIcon.png This game has unused text.
RegionIcon.png This game has regional differences.
Carts.png This game has revisional differences.


X-COM: UFO Defense is a turn-based tactical combat game with elements of global strategy, resource management, RPG, and even a bit of arcade. Intercept and shoot down UFOs, capture aliens, protect cities from acts of terror, and study your enemies to fight them better. The game spawned two less successful sequels in the same genre, two more failed sequels in different genres, and more recently a very successful reboot in XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

A lot of info about the game's internals is collected in the fan wiki https://www.ufopaedia.org/index.php/X-COM

Version Differences

Hmmm...
To do:
Changes in engine, sounds, Amiga and PS1 differences.

There was the original release, several patches up to Version 1.4 (at least for MS-DOS), and a "Collectors' Edition" also labelled as Version 1.4 but with significant changes to the engine and sounds to address compatibility issues.

The PlayStation version features a non-random map for the final mission and several animated cutscenes for the mission end (good and bad) and for the endgame.

Amiga AGA Version

This was the first Amiga version, released in 1994 and compatible only with AGA Amigas (i.e. Amiga 1200 and 4000). Coming on 4 floppy disks it was mostly on par feature/gameplay wise with the PC original with identical 256 colour graphics. However, perversely it has things missing even compared to the other Amiga versions:

  • Lacks the PC intro with the soldiers taking off in the Skyranger on alert. There is simply a Microprose logo and the UFO: Enemy Unknown logo faded in.
  • Has a unique soundtrack that is both different not only from the original PC version but also the later Amiga OCS version.
  • Compared to both the PC and OCS versions, it's also missing music in some screens, specifically the title screen has no music, and the Battlescape also has no music.
  • Uses some slightly different sound effects compared to the PC version.
  • Has a simplified text-only enemy turn screen without the graphic of the soldier being stalked by an alien.
  • The biggest and most disappointing difference from the PC version is there are no night missions. All missions regardless of time of day play as if they are in the daytime without the night shading effect of the PC version, and this also seems to effect gameplay elements such as visibility, which is always at day levels. The end result is the flares are useless items in the Amiga versions of the game.
  • Fewer soldier type graphics. In the Battlescape view all soldiers appear as either blonde women or blonde men, regardless of their race or hair colour (in the equipment screens they still have the same range of appearances as the PC version).
  • Generally sluggish performance on an unupgraded Amiga 1200.
  • Features password copy protection where a code from the manual must be typed in before play.

Amiga CD32 Version

This was the second Amiga release of the game, also released in 1994, on CD. Intended as a somewhat further enhanced edition of the AGA version but for the CD32 games console. This version comes frustratingly close to being the definitive edition for the Amiga, but has some massive and quite bizarre issues due to the game console's notoriously tiny 1kb NVRAM used for saving games that effectively ruin it.

  • Includes the full PC intro with the soldiers scrambling. This is identical to the PC version, but has a MOD version of the music playing rather than the original MIDI music, and also does not include the various death sound effects in the scene when the Mutoids are gunning people down.
  • Aesthetically identical to the AGA version, 256 colour graphics, same soundtrack and number of music tracks as that version
  • Supports both mouse and CD32 pad control
  • Limited to only building three bases in the game. This is due to the lack of saved game space on the console.
  • Bases and soldiers cannot be named/renamed (presumably due to the CD32 having no keyboard)
  • After saving a game and loading it to continue, all soldiers will default to the black female character model(!). By the end of the game you will have an army of dark skinned Amazons with names like "Geoff". This seems to be a deliberate compromise caused by lack of space to save this information.
  • Only one game can be saved at a time on the console. The player must be committed to playing as well, as saving the game uses up ALL the console's NVRAM space, deleting any other game saves present and preventing the saving of any other game on that console (unless the UFO save is overwritten).
  • No password protection.

Amiga OCS/ECS Version

The final and worst of the Amiga versions. Released in 1995 and designed to run on the then obsolete and far underpowered Amiga OCS chipset (as found in the popular Amiga 500), the game runs with a massively reduced number of colours meaning all graphics are hugely inferior to the PC original, and also the Amiga AGA versions. Oddly, despite being objectively the worst version of the game ever released, it's clearly an iterative effort and has some new features included that were missing from the other two Amiga versions. It also came on five floppy disks unlike the AGA version, with the extra disk used for the cut music and art outlined below. Game differences include:

UFOEU-AmigaOCSProgressbar.png
  • No full intro the same as the AGA version, but this time the UFO splash screen logo simply appears and does not fade in.
  • Reduced colour palette compared to PC and AGA versions with only 32 colours on screen. Most of the background panel graphics are simply now in greyscale.
  • Features a totally different soundtrack to the AGA Amiga versions, this time based on the original PC music. It also has more music than the AGA versions, including on the title screen and in the Battlescape.
  • Vastly reduced number of sound effects. Soldiers and aliens now have no death sound.
  • Reduced sample rates of sound effects (most noticeable on the Geoscape clicking sound effect)
  • Features the enemy turn screen graphic from the PC version with the soldier being stalked by an alien that is missing from the AGA versions
  • A new feature not seen in any other version of the game where a progress bar shows during the enemy turn to indicate how far through calculating the enemy turn the game is. Likely added due to single turns infamously taking anything up to 45 minutes in this version of the game.
  • Uses a new, different mouse cursor graphic to the AGA versions.
  • As with the AGA versions, no night missions.
  • Units have no moving animations(!). Soldiers do not actually walk, they simply glide around the map when moved.
  • New weapon firing effect - rifles now fire laser like beams instead of projectiles and the screen flashes when fired.
  • Very poor in-game performance on an Amiga 500.
  • No password protection.

Unused UFO Components

Hmmm...
To do:
Is there anything else?

UFOs and alien bases may have a number of immobile objects which are captured when a player wins a tactical mission. Then they can be sold for money or researched to unlock further research, or at least get some flavor text and score. But there are at least three exceptions.

Alien Reproduction

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A valid base inventory object and research topic, with Ufopedia text and graphics available, but the Battlescape tile that would yield it after a mission is not implemented. The research text reads:

English: These chambers contain alien foetuses. The design of these containers seems to suggest that the aliens which use this process rely completely on laboratory reproduction. The rich nutrients ensure rapid development of the foetus. This factory line system could generate thousands of alien clones in a short space of time. The process could be easily adapted for human reproduction, or alien-human hybrids.

French: Ces chambres contiennent des foetus aliens. La forme de ces containers semble suggérer que les aliens qui utilisent ceprocédé dépendent totalement de la reproduction en laboratoire. Les aliments riches assurent le développement rapide du foetus. Cette reproduction à la chaîne peut générer des milliers de clones aliens en très peu de temps. Le procédé pourrait facilement être appliqué pour la reproduction humaine, ou pour des hybrides aliens-humains.

German: Diese Kammern enthalten außerirdische Föten. Die Konstruktion dieser Behälter deutet darauf hin, daß die Außerirdischen, die diese Methode benutzen, zur Fortpflanzung auf Labore angewiesen sind. Die reichen Nährlösungen garantieren die rasche Entwicklung des Fötus. Diese fabrikmäßige Aufzucht könnte innerhalb kürzester Zeit Tausende von außerirdischen Klonen erzeugen. Der Prozeß kann leicht auf die Fortpflanzung von Menschen oder Mischformen angewendet werden.

The item does not trigger any lines of research and is there solely for flavor, just like half a dozen other "alien research" items. There are various fan speculations to as why it was not included. Interestingly, this idea is revisited in X-COM: Apocalypse as "procreation parks" derived from the invaders' technology and being the preferred way of reproduction for humans in the 2080s.

UFO Construction

In the sequel X-COM: Terror from the Deep, the "USO Construction" item is captured in downed USOs, and the player needs to study it to be able to research craft based on alien technology... but in this game the UFO Construction item has no relation to UFO Construction research. The research is unlocked by a combination of topics on UFO components. However, the base inventory item still exists and can be sold, if it's added by editing a save game.

Alien Habitat

Research item, text, and graphics are absent. Battlescape tiles can be altered to yield this base inventory item after a mission and it can be sold, but not researched. Fans speculate that this item together with "Alien Food" may have been intended for researching Alien Containment facility, but in all versions of the game Alien Containment is already buildable from the start.

Unused Ufopedia Text

Aircraft weapons lack description texts in the game, but the strings are present in the ENGLISH.DAT, FRENCH.DAT, and GERMAN.DAT files. The first five obviously correspond to Stingray, Avalanche, Cannon, Fusion Ball and Laser Cannon. The remaining weapon is Plasma Beam, which doesn't fit the remaining description.

English:

ADVANCED AIR TO AIR MISSILE WITH SPECIALLY SHIELDED ELECTRONICS.
AIR TO AIR MISSILE WITH NUCLEAR WARHEAD, BUT AN EXTREMELY HEAVY LOAD.
HIGH POWERED CANNON WHICH FIRES ARMOUR PIERCING ROUNDS CAPABLE OF PENETRATING 16 INCHES OF STEEL.
THIS LAUNCHER FIRES A BALL SHAPED MISSILE POWERED BY ANTI-MATTER REACTION. THE BALL DESTROYS THE TARGET WITH A GRAVITY WAVE IMPLOSION.
THIS CONVENTIONAL LASER BEAM IS POWERED BY AN ANTI-MATTER REACTION CHAMBER.
THE GRAVITY BEAM DIRECTS A FINELY CHANNELLED IMPLODING GRAVITY FIELD.

French:

MISSILE AIR-AIR SOPHISTIQUE AVEC DES SYSTEMES ELECTRONIQUES SPECIALEMENT PROTEGES.
MISSILE AIR-AIR A TETE NUCLEAIRE, MAIS D'UN POIDS TRES ELEVE.
CANON TRES PUISSANT QUI TIRE DES BALLES CAPABLES DE PERCER DES ARMURES ET DE PENETRER DANS DE L'ACIER DE 40 CM.
CE LANCEUR TIRE UN MISSILE, DE LA FORME D'UNE BALLE, GRACE A LA REACTION ANTI-MATIERE. LA BALLE DETRUIT LA CIBLE AVEC UNE IMPLOSION D'ONDES GRAVITATIONNELLES.
CE RAYON LASER CONVENTIONNEL EST ACTIVE PAR UNE CHAMBRE A REACTION ANTI-MATIERE.
LE RAYON GRAVITATIONNEL PRODUIT UN CHAMP GRAVITATIONNEL A IMPLOSION CANALISEE.

German:

FORTSCHRITTLICHE LUFTKAMPF-RAKETE MIT SPEZIELL ABGESCHIRMTER ELEKTRONIK.
LUFTKAMPF-RAKETE MIT ATOMSPRENGKOPF, DOCH EXTREM HOHEM GEWICHT.
HOCHLEISTUNGSGESCHÜTZ FÜR PANZERBRECHENDE GESCHOSSE, DIE STAHL VON 16 ZOLL DICKE DURCHDRINGEN KÖNNEN.
DIESE ABSCHUSSVORRICHTUNG FEUERT EIN KUGELGESCHOSS AB, DAS DURCH ANTIMATERIE-REAKTION ANGETRIEBEN WIRD. DIE KUGEL ZERSTÖRT DAS ZIEL MIT EINER GRAVITATIONSWELLEN-IMPLOSION.
DIESER KONVENTIONELLE LASERSTRAHL WIRD DURCH EINE ANTIMATERIE-REAKTION AUSGELÖST.
DER GRAVITATIONSSTRAHL SETZT EIN GENAU AUSGERICHTETES IMPLODIERENDES GRAVITATIONSFELD EIN.

Sound

Hmmm...
To do:
Differences between 1.2, 1.4, and CE.

Unused Map Blocks

Hmmm...
To do:
Pictures.

Tactical maps are randomly assembled from pre-made blocks. Maps (3D arrays of tile indexes, usually 10×10×3) of each block are stored in MAP files, and tiles they use are defined in MCD, PCK, and TAB files. A map can use multiple tilesets and what corresponds to what is set in the engine.

There are several MAP files that are not used by the engine. There is no way to tell what tile sets they were made for, but fans have figured out reasonably good guesses: https://www.ufopaedia.org/index.php/Talk:MAPS

MAP3.MAP

A 32×48×3 map with several blocky human buildings, but with alien gravity elevators.

The file contains several extra bytes at the start, and has to be manually edited for MAP editing software to accept it. The polar terrain was chosen because only it has puddles; the original intention is unknown. The block is far larger than any other terrain block, and cannot be combined with them as it is because everything else has length and width in multiples of 10. There is no room to place X-COM craft and no exit grid, thus the block cannot be used as the only block for the mission.

MAP4.MAP

A 32×48×3 map of a single large building in the same style.

PABDUCT.MAP

A 10×20×4 map with two pyramids linked together, with alien technology inside.

PHARVEST.MAP

A 20×20×4 Dome-shaped UFO(?) assembled out of pyramids.

PSCOUT.MAP

A 10×10×4 pyramid-shaped UFO.

TEMP.MAP

A 10×10×1 map that's the same as the bottom level of URBAN17.MAP.

TEMP1.MAP

A very simplistic 10×10×1 design similar to the medium scout UFO.

TEMP2.MAP

A 20×20×1 map that's the same as the middle level of URBAN08.MAP.

TEMP3.MAP

A 20×20×1 map that's the same as TEMP2.MAP, but without stairs.

UFO_000.MAP

A 10×10×2 map that's a smaller version of the medium scout.

UFO_010.MAP

A 20×20×2 map that's a smaller version of the abductor.

UFO_1B.MAP

A 2×2×3 UFO smaller than Small Scout.

This map uses unused tiles from files UFO1.MCD, UFO1.PCK, and UFO1.TAB - same as for Small Scout. Unlike Small Scout, however, this ship has no gravity lift and no interior.

Unused Mechanics

Hmmm...
To do:
Other unused game mechanics implemented in the engine, but not used by existing resources and uncovered by altering files and reverse engineering. Melee combat too.

Fire and smoke area effects use similar mechanics, but the engine allows four more types of smoke-like effects. There are no resource files for them and nobody knows what they were going to be. They are speculated to be gas weapons like in Apocalypse.

There are four unused types of grenades. Again, speculated to carry the four unimplemented types of smoke-like weapon.