X-COM is a series of video games, started by Mythos Games and MicroProse in 1993. The first three titles in the franchise were tactical games while the fourth was an action-based space combat/strategy game. All titles were developed for the PC, with a few ports to the Amiga and PlayStation. The first three games were originally developed to run under DOS, and have subsequently been ported to run under Microsoft Windows.
The first installment, UFO: Enemy Unknown in Europe (also known as X-COM: UFO Defense in North America) was written by a team led by Julian Gollop. MicroProse quickly had an internal team create the sequel X-COM: Terror from the Deep. Subsequently, the Gollop brothers went straight to work on X-COM: Apocalypse, which would end up being the third in the series when released in 1997. Soon after Apocalypse, MicroProse was bought by Hasbro Interactive, which released two more X-COM games.
The premise for the original series is that hostile extraterrestrials have begun invading the planet Earth. A clandestine, international military organizationExtraterrestrial Combat Unit (variably abbreviated X-COM or X-Com through the series) is set up in 1999 to counter the UFOs, capture and research the alien technology, unveil the mystery behind the attacks, and ultimately stop the threat. Inspiration for this setting was drawn from the TV series UFO, and Timothy Good's book Alien Liaison.
The X-COM series included the following games:
- UFO: Enemy Unknown (1994)
- X-COM: Terror from the Deep (1995)
- X-COM: Apocalypse (1997)
- X-COM: Interceptor (1998)
- X-COM: Enforcer (2001)
- The first game is undeniably the most popular and most successful of the series. It was often voted to be one of the best video games of all time by many gaming magazines and websites, including #1 on the IGN's list of Top 25 PC Games of All Time in 2007 and again in 2009, #2 on the list of Best Video Games Since 1992 by Pelit in 2007, #3 on the list of Top 50 Games of All Time by PC Gamer in 2001 (and #11 in their 2010 "Top 100 Games of All Time" list), and #3 on list of Best Games of All Time by Computer Gaming World in 2001. The series has since then developed a large and devoted cult following.Apocalypse took several new directions with the series: it introduced a real-time combat system, in addition to a modified turn-based system, and the aesthetics were shifted to a less grim and more futuristic style. Despite being developed by the original creators of the first X-COM (Terror from the Deep was developed by MicroProse's internal team), it failed to repeat its success.After Interceptor, Hasbro Interactive purchased MicroProse and acquired the X-COM brand. In 2001 Hasbro released a poorly-received action game named X-COM: Enforcer, loosely based on the events of Enemy Unknown. There was also a budget range multiplayer game X-COM: Email games, released in 1999.