UFO: Enemy Unknown is a true testament of strategy compared to modern day games like Rome: Total War and console games like Disgaea. It combines many elements like micro managing resources, selling and buying, tactical warfare, and of course, luck. I look forward to talking about the various aspects this game has to offer and how well it executes on all of them.
I'd like to start things off by getting down to the meat of the game, the gameplay. You start off setting up a suitable location for your base, and compare the location to how wide the coverage it gives when it comes to protecting the various nations from the alien threat.
Once you plop down your base you deem suitable, you immediately begin the game in which you head into the store to buy soldiers, equipment, add expansions to your base, conduct research to advance weaponry among a few other things. There are several levels of view in the game. The one you'll be spending a good amount of time in will be the world view, where you will track enemy ufos, look at your bases, look at alien bases, watch alien ships fly around and dispatching your own fighters to take care of them, and accessing your base options from there as well as the standard saving option, music, and etc. The other view is the battle view where you'll be
able to see this game truly shine. While nowadays the graphics and sounds are a bit simplistic, the design of the levels and how you go about things is NOT. It's turn based on how you go about moving your units, shooting the enemy, throwing grenades, flying, and much more. What's more, is that there's a day and night schedule always in progress on the world map, so if you encounter an alien ship during night time, expect it to be total darkness and low visibility where the aliens can ambush you and vise versa.
Now the next thing I'd like to discuss is the difficulty. This game is hard, not hard to the point of impossibility but it's no walk in the park. It's somewhat easy to pick up and learn, but it will take a while of playing before you can truly begin to master the mechanics of the battle view, overworld view, base management, etc. When it comes to the battle view, it's beautifully designed so you'll have to keep your men looking in all directions at all times, you'll never know when an alien might pop out of a building to lob a grenade at you or take potshots at your team from on top of a roof top.
When it comes to sound and music. This is where the game is honestly at best, average and at worst, mediocre, but not appallingly mediocre. The sound does the job when it comes to firing guns, attacking enemy ships, exploding grenades and whatnot. But don't expect a full orchestra of musical instruments, because they opt for an eerie sort of tune when you're in battle with the aliens on ground. And when you're in the overworld view, it's just your typical management music fare with a bit of sci-finess thrown in.
When it comes to replayability, this is where the game shines. It offers a lot in replayability terms coupled with difficulty settings, this is a game you can seriously put some hours into and the difficulty and somewhat randomness in the battles will be sure to keep you occupied. There can be lots of X-factors which can result in your downfall, or you might get a stroke of luck and pull through a difficult battle or get more funding than you expected.
In conclusion, UFO: Enemy Unknown is a classic masterpiece in strategic gaming. While modern day strategies would make UFO pale in comparison when it comes to the graphics and sound department, make no mistake about the difficulty, it'll keep you challenged for quite a while and it'll be a good while before you can truly master the game. If you're a fan of the old strategy games or are looking for a new challenge, I highly recommend this game, it's solid on all counts of strategy, tactical warfare, and difficulty despite repetitive though admittedly eerie music of the battles and the hum-drum generic strategy music in the overworld view.