Useful tips for old games - X-com UFO Defence - Enemy Unknow - by John Sinitsky

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The game UFO: Enemy Unknown was released by Microprose in 1993 under 2 different titles – X-COM: UFO Defense (in the US) and X-COM: Enemy Unknown in Europe. The game provided a very successful combination of the concept of real-time strategy (so popular for combat games) and turn-based strategy.

The storyline

The game storyline is, generally, an invasion of Earth by extraterresial life forms, which need to be countered by the X-COM forces. He X-COM is a worldwide organization, receiving funding from all over the world. The funding changes on monthly basis according to your ability to deal with the attacks in the region – beware, if you fail the country can withdraw from the X-COM and join the aliens.


The gameplay is basically divided into 2 parts. The first part is managing you X-Com “bases” – each of which can be constructed in a certain place on Earth and have numerous buildings inside it (Radars, General Stores, Laboratory, Alien containment etc.). This part is real-time based – but you can control the speed of progress in a very easy way. The second part is battling the aliens. Once the X-Com crew arrives on the scene of alien activity a turn-based combat starts. The mission result is determined by the aliens you eliminate (kill/capture) and equipment captured – versus your losses (crew members killed).

Base management tips

It is wise to spread the bases across the globe to have more chances of discovering alien attacks. However, remember, each base costs you money, so more than 3 bases at the early stages of the game would pose serious economy problems.

Build Short-range and Long range radars at each base (at least 1 a month) and be sure to have general stores in each base – I would even recommend 2 of them in your primary base to avoid storage problems.

Alien containers should be built in your original base as soon as possible – this will give you a chance to study more about your alien rivals.

Regarding the interceptors – it is recommended to switch 1 of them to Avalanche instead of the original Stinger – although only 3 rockets are available in each fight the damage is more severe and you are likely to crash the smaller sized UFO with one hit.

Mission tips

First of all, try to land near the UFO site in day hours. This will make discovering the aliens easier – and also increase the accuracy of your soldier’s shooting. When using the grenades – remember there is a time cost for loading the grenade. So it may be wise to load the grenade right from the start and have it ready for throwing. As your primary weapons, I would recommend using laser/sonic rifles, set to auto shot – remember to have time units reserved for that.


Although the X-COM: UFO defense game is already “history”, it is still fun to play – unless, of course you are a fan of some pretty graphics. The AI is pretty good and winning a game (even at the Beginner level) is not an easy task. Enjoy, as the game can be downloaded for free at number of “oldies” sites. If you like it – you can then try the sequel “UFO: Terror From the deep” – which will be discussed in the following articles.