So I got the XCOM expansion.

I remember playing the original XCOM on my PC back in the day.  I had a seriously buggy version, one where it was possible to get a character with 250 time units.  I know this because a friend of mine had “Mr. Time Units,” and beat pretty much the whole Cydonia end mission with that one guy.  I never got that guy, though.  I was pretty crap at the game.  Years later, long after trying and never bothering much with XCOM Apocalypse, I played a long way into XCOM – Enemy from the Deep.  That game was hard for its own sake.  Astoundingly useless base-tier harpoon weapons.  No auto-fire on the alien weapons.  Nearly unkillable lobster men, who of course were the top tier of alien and the ones who you had to capture to get all the cool stuff.  There was a lot of extra spit and polish on the game, don’t get me wrong, but the entire concept of the game was just bad.  “Let’s make the exact same game again, clean up the loose ends, make the player’s weapons crappier, and make the aliens a lot tougher.”

I was much better at the game by then, largely as a result of being older and less stupid, but that one was just brutal for its own sake.  I remember, in particular, the 2-level cruise ship terror missions.  I never beat one.  I never beat that game.  I don’t feel bad at all about abandoning it.  I’d chewed up the fun bits, and had bit into its hard core of punishing brutality, and spat it out before it poisoned me.

I got the new XCOM soon after its release, and was generally pleased with it.  It sacrificed a lot of the simulation-like elements that I loved (How can I set up radar coverage for maximum effect!  Where should I place interceptors?), but for good reason.  It was stripped down, but in a way that forced you to make interesting and difficult decisions rather than just brute-forcing everything.  I played it on normal difficulty.  I tried an Ironman game, but that didn’t go so well, and I gave up after my third total party kill.  My second, Flabby-Man run went a whole lot better.   I didn’t save scum, and I played semi-honest.  I’d accept pretty much anything less than a total party kill.  I didn’t sit around and grind missions, but tried to move through things as quickly as I could, trying to role-play a real organization which wouldn’t sit around and let an alien invasion keep going just to outfit every party member with the newest thingee.  And, amazingly enough, I actually completed it – well, everything except the last mission.  The last mission was long, and not all that hard until the last room, which was an ugly surprise for which I was not ready.  I could not be bothered to try again from the beginning, or to grind out several more UFO assaults in order to get a few psi-resist bands.

So, what about the new game?  Well, I just started.  I’ll write about that later.