Let's Play X-COM Enforcer Mission 17

I don't really get this mission, and in both my original run and this run I found barely any of the hidden goodies even though it's a tiny level with very little room to hide things in.

I'm not really sure why aliens are messing around in a bunch of crypts in the middle of a big city, either. I suspect the main thought on a design level was to give the game a bit more visual variety or something, but Enforcer's awkwardly zoomed-in camera and the relative darkness of the level means it doesn't really come across any differently from any other level with buildings and stuff. My original run through it, I actually didn't realize I'd been running through crypts until I was nearly finished with the level.

For lack of anything else to talk about, this level provides a jumping-off point for a bit of a broader issue with the game: the plot's pacing issues. I distinctly recall we're going to get more plot toward the end of the game, but a lot of the game is just you wandering around in random levels killing aliens and rescuing civilians and occasionally fighting bosses with no real context. Sometimes there's a decent sense of physical transition, such as how The Worst Level Of The Game is on a hovercraft, the prior level involves you reaching and getting aboard said hovercraft, and then you're in a new area in the next level, but more often you're just fighting things who-knows-where with no particular goal. The gameplay doesn't end up filling this role with a clear progression in difficulty/skill demand, and so it's easy to lose interest partway through due to the lack of a sense the game is going anywhere.

The odd thing is that elements of the level often seem to suggest an attempt to do something plot-y with the level, such as ending with you entering an X-COM-style UFO, but Professor Utonium's omnipresent dialogue can't be bothered to even provide a basic 'hooray! You captured an alien craft! Surely I will learn something from this!' piece of feedback. It's very arcade-y in that sense, but arcade games usually at least try to have a periodic shift in your visual environment to contribute some kind of sense of progression. Enforcer has too many levels that are vaguely occurring in some generic American urban environment placed too close together: the beginning of the game you at least started in the lab, then hung out in a desert, then hung out in a trailer park. Even once you hit more urban levels, it was initially broken up with he hovercraft sequence. At this point in the game though, I couldn't have told you when the last time was I'd done anything other than fight in a generic American urban city that had few civilians, inaccessible skyscrapers, and hordes of hilariously large aliens being mowed by an even more hilariously huge robot.

The original X-COM doesn't have a plot progression in the strictest of senses, but your own technology and enemy unit variety progress at a fairly decent clip. It's only once you get into the late game that there's issues with you fighting Mutons and Ethereals over and over with the same stuff on your end while waiting to be able to launch the Mars mission. Enforcer has a wide variety of enemy types, but they tend to blur together -Sectoids are just easily-killed version of many later ranged attackers, the melee enemies are functionally all the same except for how long they take to die, etc.

It really needed a stronger plot backbone and/or for the gameplay to more obviously progress and/or for the environments to have a visual distinctiveness in a progression that goes at a fast enough clip that you don't end up with the doldrums. Something.

It's still fun and I like it, but it needed more refinement.


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