Xenonauts – Compatibility

Xenonauts Title Screen

Xenonauts Title Screen

System Requirements

Linux

Operating System: Ubuntu 14.04 or greater, Linux Mint 17 or greater
Processor: 2 GHz x86 or greater
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Video: SDL Compatible Video Card, 1280×720 resolution or greater required.
Hard Disk: 3 GB

These packages are required:
libc6:i386
libasound2:i386
libasound2-data:i386
libasound2-plugins:i386
libsdl2-2.0-0:i386 and dependencies.

Mac OS X

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.7 or greater
Processor: 2 GHz x86 or greater
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Video: 1280×720 resolution or greater required.
Hard Disk: 3 GB

Windows

Operating System: Windows Vista or greater
Processor: 2 GHz x86 or greater
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Video: 512 MB DirectX 9.0c Compatible Video Card, 1280×720 resolution or greater required.
Hard Disk: 3 GB

Ubuntu 16.04

The GOG version of Xenonauts appears to run natively with no issues in Ubuntu 16.04.

Xenonauts – Linux, Mac OS X 10.10, and Windows 10 Game First Impressions

Xenonauts Title Screen

Xenonauts Title Screen

It was in the summer time, likely 1996. My best friend was an only child and seemed to have a great knack for talking his mother into buying him computer games from the bargain bin section of whatever store they happened to be shopping in. During this particular week, he and his mom were shopping at Tuesday Morning and he was able to purchase a game neither one of us had ever heard of, but the box cover sure looked interesting. It was a game for MS-DOS and because of its outrageous memory allocation requirements, he couldn’t figure out how to get it to work with his family’s computer system. Since both of his parents worked full-time, he came over a lot during the summer, and one day he brought the game with him to my house to see if I could get it to work on my system. After building a special custom boot disk to boot into a favorable DOS environment to run the game, we both experienced our first contact with the game called X-COM: UFO Defense.

Select Your Main Base

Select Your Main Base

X-COM: UFO Defense is a strategy game, developed by Mythos Games and released in 1994 by MicroProse, that combines real-time strategy with turn-based tactics. The player is tasked with creating and managing the global defense force protecting Earth from hostile invasion by extra-terrestrials. The player must spend their budget wisely purchasing aircraft to intercept and shoot down UFOs. They must hire soldiers to go on missions to eliminate the threat of downed alien spacecraft and to retrieve valuable alien technology. And they are also responsible for hiring and managing scientists to research new technologies to create weapons comparable to the ones the aliens carry.

Intercepting UFOs

Intercepting UFOs

Xenonauts, a game developed and published by Goldhawk Interactive in 2014, seems to have been created to recapture the same vein of nostalgia I had from when I used to play X-COM: UFO Defense with my best friend in the mid-1990s. The game developers state that the game is not meant to be a clone of X-COM, and it is not, but the spirit of that original game is certainly alive and present here. Gamers who played X-COM: UFO Defense will feel at home when selecting their beginning base site, managing their initial base, sending planes out to intercept UFOs and sending out a team of soldiers to investigate a UFO crash landing site.

Close Encounter Shot to the Face

A Close Encounter Shot to the Face

When playing through Xenonauts for the first time, I noticed it seemed to appear very spartan for the year it was released. No cutscenes or rich animations were employed, and I have been unable to find an actual tutorial on how to play the game as far as I can tell. With X-COM: UFO Defense a player had to rely on the manual. Without the manual it was easy to lose very quickly. Maybe Xenonauts was designed to cater to the more mature PC gamer who is used to reading a thick manual to get the most of their strategy game’s mechanics. There are tool-tips that pop up the first time a player accesses any new screen, however, so the player doesn’t have to fly completely blind. I realize having had played X-COM: UFO Defense as a child, I am not much of a newcomer to the genre, but without reading a manual or following a tutorial, I was able to intercept two UFOs and successfully complete my first mission to retrieve alien artifacts from my first downed UFO. There is also a Xenopedia that serves as an in game online help resource while playing.

UFO Secured

UFO Secured

Upon further research, it appears Xenonauts was actually the product of a Kickstarter campaign that was able to raise the sum of $154,715 from 4,668 backers according to Wikipedia. This is an impressive amount, but far from the budget of a AAA studio. With this information to place things in perspective, what the developers of Xenonauts were able to accomplish with this game is impressive. The musical score is complex, easy to listen to, and fits the atmosphere of the game. The sound effects are rich and fit within their contexts as well. While the animations and graphics are simple, no extra imagination is required on the part of the player to discern what they are looking at on the screen at any given moment.

Research Alien Technology

Research Alien Technology

Goldhawk Interactive allowed partial access to the Xenonauts source code which resulted in the creation of Xenonauts: Community Edition, a mod for the Xenonauts game. Those with a retail copy of Xenonauts can apply the community edition mod to expand and enhance their Xenonauts game experience. I’ll try to add another article covering the community edition mod at some later point.

I had a lot of fun briefly playing Xenonauts today, moseying down memory lane. The GOG summer sale just started today. Those that visit GOG.com before June 6th can download a free copy of Xenonauts to play themselves. This is a good game. I’d recommend getting a free copy before the promotion runs out.

Ground Control II: Operation Exodus – Compatibility

Ground Control II Title Screen

Ground Control II Title Screen

System Requirements

Operating System: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
Processor: 1.5GHz Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon
Memory: 256MB RAM
Video: 128MB AGP video card
Hard Drive: 1.5GB
Optical Drive: 24x CD-ROM
Windows 10

  • Installs – Yes
  • Runs – Yes
  • Uninstalls – Yes

Everything with Ground Control II appears to work flawlessly in Windows 10.

Ground Control II: Operation Exodus – Windows XP Game First Impressions

Ground Control II Title Screen

Ground Control II Title Screen

I must preface this article by stating that the majority of my current real-time strategy game knowledge comes from games that came out prior to the year 2000. Starcraft was a LAN party favorite, though we were known to crack out Warcraft II, Command & Conquer, Total Annihilation, and Age of Empires II. I briefly played Supreme Commander with friends when it came out. When the first Ground Control came out, I had a friend who continually badgered me to play it. He talked like it would change my paradigm with regard to strategy games. It’s possible it may have, had I played it. My friend and I were both in high school at the time with limited money. He wanted me to play his game and I wanted him to play Starcraft instead.

Years later I purchased Ground Control II: Operation Exodus at a used bookstore. I’m not really sure what kept me from playing it until now. Perhaps life just got in the way. I know I picked it up and played it a couple of times but couldn’t really get into it for some reason. Seeing that it works in Windows 10, it’s time to give it another chance.

Ground Control II: Operation Exodus is a real-time strategy game developed by Massive Entertainment and released by Sierra in 2004. As I stated earlier, it is the sequel to Ground Control that was released in 2000. The thing I noticed at first glance when playing that makes this game unique is its emphasis on tactics and the elimination of base building.

Ground Control II Pro Tip

Ground Control II Pro Tip

In Starcraft, Command & Conquer, etc., a certain quantity of a needed resource is provided on the game’s playfield. When that resource is extracted, it can be used to build buildings in the player’s base and from those buildings construct various unit types to be used in combat. Ground Control II gets rid of this by giving you a starting number of units and then giving the player what are called acquisition points. Acquisition points are granted whenever a player overtakes another player’s capture point or drop ship base. When enough acquisition points are accumulated, the player may use them to purchase units that are delivered via drop ship to their own drop ship base. If a player has no drop ship base, there is no way for them to spend acquisition points. This makes Ground Control II more of a hybrid between games like Starcraft which is truly a real-time strategy title and something like Myth where starting number of units in battle is finite, which falls squarely into the real-time tactics genre.

Drop Ship Location

Drop Ship Location

There are some interesting concepts introduced in Ground Control II that I have not seen in other real-time strategy games. Infantry units, while weak like in many real-time strategy titles, can be sandwiched in all sorts of places you wouldn’t expect on the map. They can be hidden inside buildings, or hide out in forests. Directing a tank can be unwieldy. Blindly right-clicking in a direction may or may not work, depending on what the unit thinks your direct orders to it were. Whenever I tell an infantry unit to move, however, it always seems to move. Infantry can just go anywhere and squeeze into any place. They are easily underestimated, and a delight to use to come up with improvised strategies. The player may also use acquisition points to call in air strikes on enemy base locations. The air strike takes a certain amount of time to occur after it has been ordered. Be careful you don’t blow up your own units when you use it.

The tutorial is fairly boring to play through – it actually put me to sleep the first time I played through it – but it is quite informative. I would recommend starting there if you are new to the Ground Control series. Some of the things discussed apply across all real-time strategy games, but others do not. I recall jumping in without the tutorial one of the times I tried to pick Ground Control II up and being a little confused.

Capturing Their Drop Ship Location

Capturing Their Drop Ship Location

Of course, if you like playing games with the sound turned on, you may be confused anyway. The units under the player’s command will talk like they are completely out-numbered, surrounded and about to be slaughtered when they first witness an enemy unit a hundred yards away. It gets frustrating microing units on one side of the map, feeling like you are doing pretty good as the enemy is on the run, and then hearing chatter like you are losing the entire game due to one little unit from the enemy making its way across enemy lines on the other side of the map. At least I learned to ignore those sounds once I had played the tutorial.

And Their Main Base

And Their Main Base

In my gameplay thus far, the Empire has come back from Earth to reestablish control on their former fringe colonies that have since flourished in their freedom from the Empire’s oppressive rule. In the first campaign, the player plays as the resistance forces of the Northern Star Alliance working to remove the Empire from their worlds. In the second level of this campaign, a UFO crashes into the capital city of the Northern Star Alliance, Morningstar Prime. As the game progresses it appears the player may also play a campaign as an alien race. I’ll need to play through Ground Control II, and Ground Control for that matter, and then review further to know more about what happens.

Ground Control II game disc

Ground Control II game disc

Ground Control II: Operation Exodus has mostly been a forgettable and largely uninspiring experience for me thus far. Its plot and gameplay mechanics are interesting. Its cutscenes are well made. The graphics and sound are alright. As far as science fiction real-time strategy games released by Sierra go, this one blows Outpost 2: Divided Destiny out of the water. But Ground Control II is missing that spark for me. When the infantrymen die in the unmoving cutscenes, I feel like I am watching clay figures or toy soldiers; I don’t have any emotional feelings for these polygonal people. The character’s chatter feels canned. I have yet to receive satisfaction from the game telling me I did a job well done. The only satisfaction received from this game is beating the level and flanking the enemy. It could be for this reason that playing the multiplayer mode would be far better than the single-player campaigns. If I can find someone to play with me, I’ll give that a try. Until then I would only recommend Ground Control II to collector’s who must have every game, and strategy buffs who feel they must beat every real-time strategy title.