Out of all of the X-COM games I’ve played, TERROR FROM THE DEEP has always been my firm favorite (although I haven’t played the latest ENEMY UNKNOWN yet so that may soon change) and I have fond childhood memories of it. I remember waking up extra early in the morning on weekends just so I could go boot up our old dinosaur of a computer and get a couple of hours of TERROR in before my parents woke up. With the latest game just having been released and the fact that I’ve just recently started playing TERROR again, I thought it was about time for a review.

For those that don’t know, the X-COM games are turn based strategy games in which you lead a team of special forces tasked with protecting the Earth against invading alien forces. The levels are grid based and involve a lot of strategy and planning and the game can be quite difficult even on the easiest setting.

The first thing you need to do when playing TFTD is to choose a location for your underwater base. Once this is done you can then enter your base and start setting everything up for the upcoming alien interceptions. This involves constructing extra general stores, laboratories, living quarters, upgrading sonar arrays, selling any surplus weapons and equipment, recruiting extra scientists, Aquanauts and technicians, fitting out your submarines, managing your funds, researching and manufacturing new technology and an assload of other elements. You can even begin construction on another base on the other side of the world if you want. Invariably you will locate your first alien craft before you’re fully prepared at which time you will need to send in one of your offensive flying submarines to intercept and take down the enemy craft. Once successful you can then send in your transport submarine to take your team down to the ocean floor so that they can eliminate any surviving aliens and also retrieve any useful equipment. Once you reach the crash location you can equip your Aquanauts before landing. Finding the aliens and their craft can be rather hit or miss and sometimes you will see one as soon as you open your submarine door and other times you will need to scout around for 5 or 10 minutes before encountering any hostiles. It’s at this point in the game that you will need to employ some tactics. Should you send in a couple of vulnerable Aquanauts to scout and enter the downed alien ship? Or should you just send in your heavier yet bulkier Coelacanth for a frontal assault? Do you send somebody inside the ship to get close up and personal with the aliens? Or should you just throw grenades at the risk of damaging the valuable alien artifacts?

At first your puny human weapons are not really too impressive so I’ve always relied heavily on the mobile Coelacanth Cannon to do most of the work although it can’t fit in the tight spaces like Aquanauts can. Eventually you will eliminate the surviving aliens and the mission ends. The mission is graded depending upon how many aliens you kill, how many you capture alive, how much alien technology and artifacts you recover and of course how many Aquanauts you lose in the process.This mission grading is very important because if you fail too many missions you will lose key funding from certain countries and if this continues it will soon be game over. On the other hand if you are successful enough certain countries will actually increase their funding.

Returning to base after a successful mission lets you explore more of the game’s elements. New alien weapons and technology can be researched and manufactured and then used by your Aquanauts. Once again strategy comes into this as you decide whether to research Aqua Plastics to create tougher armor for you Aquanauts or whether to research Sonic weapons so that your troops can fight fire with fire. Once you’re equipped with alien weapons the game becomes even more enjoyable as you can exchange your crappy human technology for Sonic Cannons, Shock Bomb Launchers, Sonic Pulser grenades and more.
Apart from the submerged alien craft missions you will also discover missions on land. This adds even more strategy as you need to navigate multi-story buildings and protect innocent civilians. But it doesn’t stop there because even your underwater base can be attacked and as you progress further through the game you will encounter underwater alien colonies which can be extremely tough. New species of aliens will be discovered and soon you will find yourself fighting the relatively easy Aquatoids, Gill Men, Deep Ones and the more difficult species like Tasoths or those sinister floating brains and giant jellyfish creatures.

TERROR FROM THE DEEP can get very complicated and very difficult and unless you’re really good at micromanaging you will probably have a hard time. I could never be bothered having to deal with multiple bases at the same time and as a consequence I’ve never successfully completed the game. To complete the game you will need to employ a lot of patience, priorities, strategy and organization and eventually you will be juggling multiple bases and multiple squads all the while making sure that you keep everything stocked up, replace dead Aquanauts, replace destroyed submarines, keep up with research and manufacture and of course keep your international funding up. While the game has aged a lot and graphics wise it looks pretty awful I still find it to be really fucking fun and if you are willing to put in the time and effort TERROR FROM THE DEEP can be a really enjoyable strategy game. Maybe nostalgia is making me see this game through rose colored glasses, but I still think it is an awesome damn game and just as fun as I ever remember.

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