UFO: Enemy Unknown logo Amiga Computing Silver Award

Andy Maddock becomes intrepid adventurer as he goes in search of those infamous little green men and the answers to a million UFO questions.


UFO actually stands for Unidentified Flying Object, as most people already know. They tend to associate them with triangular space things that whizz through the sky at millions of miles per hour. The theory is Aliens. That's the explanation!

Many years have gone by while scientists have studied all the evidence, yet there's still no concrete proof that these little men do or don't exist.
If they do, they obviously don't seem to be planning to attack us or wipe us out in the future. They just seem content researching us. Some people claimed to have been examined or monitored by a weird method! Is it rue? Who knows? What would happen if they did find a reason to attack us. What would we do? The thought is terrifying. Well, sort of.

Recently, over the South Manchester area, there have been many sightings of these unknown objects whizzing over the Pennines. Are there other life forms living in new galaxies using technology far more advanced than anything we've ever dreamt of?

Aliens, supposedly, have access to small, shiny vehicles that can travel in depths of any galaxy they please and never get pulled up for speeding. And what do we have... the Amiga 500?


The idea is to take control of Xcom which is a secret organisation planning to wipe out invading UFOs - who, incidentally, have decided to attack. The only way of defeating them is to shoot the UFOs down to the ground and search the wreckage for technology to use against them. This is where the strategy aspect comes in.

Deciding on what weapons to research and the type of armoury for your soldiers is, unfortunately, your first worry. You then have to land on their territory and defeat them. Only by constant research will your army grow large enough and strong enough to enable you to even think of attacking the aliens.

Once you defeat them you will learn more about them and their way of thinking. After a while you may be able to predict their moves and form different strategies.

A number of important decisions have to be made to prevent the UFOs attacking your base. Once you have made ground and established yourself as a leading base, you can extend your community and set up plant elsewhere within the world. To do this you must send out your jets to patrol the vicinity to check for unwanted guests - disposing of them immediately.

Sending out various Interceptor jets to shoot them down is a good thing to do to make an area clear. You can then think about sending out a passenger ship carrying all your soldiers and ammo. This is very dangerous as you have no real knowledge of the UFO's crew or cargo. It's your job to organise your troops safely and control them through the exploration stages, and this is where the action begins.



UFO is now available to all 500 owners. After being released on the 1200 and CD32, the 500 version follows suit. Compared to the superior versions, it's basically another run-of-the-mill 500 version - vastly slower, and generally a 500 feel to it. If you've never played the other versions then you haven't really got anything to compare it to.

Collated to other similar strategy games with a twist of adventure, it doesn't really touch them. The two that stand out from the rest are Space Crusade and K240, which are both incredibly in-depth and contain livelier action sequences.



Atmospheric tunes are usually the norm for strategy games, and UFO is no exception. It has its fair share of eerie tunes blending in well, suiting the action and graphics, but the effects are fairly limited to the odd bleep, resembling gun fire. There isn't much to write home about in particular because the style of the game is progressive rather than action all the way.

The action scenes could have been spiced up with some speech or sampled aircraft noises, which would have added to the realism. However, as it stands, the music and sound effects are really both adequate because you don't really take much notice of them. Actually, you may as well make your own sounds. Eeeeeaaaawww! Chaa! Chaaa... erm, maybe not.




The graphics are probably the best part of the game. They are chunky yet very detailed. However, the only let-down are the actual combat sequences on the ground, which are very bland and could easily have been improved. The world map is very well drawn and the actual stills of faces, equipment and transporters are very good. Overall, the graphics are clear and adequate.

Obviously, the main factor for a strategy game is to be detailed and playable rather than very presentable. The graphics and sound are much of a bonus if you're going to be constantly engrossed in your tactics and strategies - the presentation will not play too big a part in your initial reaction.

The animation of the game is slightly different, and becomes very jerky during the ground battle scenes. The limited amount of frames of animation look unfinished and very unprofessional, which make the battle scenes, in particular, very sluggish and every clumsy. The control system then becomes awkward and results in a game which hosts a whole load of detail being disappointingly let down by slightly minor, although very poor finishing touches.




The menus are well implemented and easy to use, although the lack of on-screen information takes a toll at important parts of the game - constantly looking at the manual to get started becomes very boring, very quickly.

Now for the 500 version itself, I'm afraid it's not as fast as I'd hoped. They've tried to keep the disk swapping down to a bear minimum and they've succeeded, but it's the accessing of the disks that now becomes the ig wait. More or less every icon clicked on needs a few seconds of access, and if you click on the wrong icon you'll have to wait to get back into the game. Through this, I lost interest very quickly.

I must admit, the amount of detail is fantastic and it's certainly one of the most in-depth games I've played yet. It contains all sorts of information on guns,ships, ammunition and troops, and is a real statistic buff's heaven. Unfortunately, this isn't me.

If you enjoy strategy/battle games with a hint of adventure then you might as well invest in a hard disk. Most games of this genre appear in the box accompanied by about five to ten disks, and the last thing you want to do is swap them around every few minutes. It's certainly a worthy purchase for existing 500 owners who want to inject a little oomph and snazz into their grey-haired machine, but be careful non-hard disk owners!

UFO: Enemy Unknown logo

It's a fight for survival against alien invaders from outer space. This is no time for showing mercy.

Whether you're a keen UFO watcher or a Nick Veitch sceptic who thinks that all extra terrestrials are really weather balloons used by the FBI to spy on hapless nations, one thing's for sure - UFOs always capture the general public's imagination.

UFO: Enemy Unknown from Microprose is a game guaranteed to set your phasers to stun no matter what side of the aliens from outer space theory you believe in.

Mix and match
UFO manages to combine shape and meld several game genres to produce a thoroughly entertaining, thought provoking reactive, pro-active and strategic gaming experience. Programmed by Nick and Jullian Gallop of 8-bit Chaos and Laser Squad fame, UFO: Enemy Unknown embraces elements of the latter. That is, the main action is turn-based - you move first, followed by the alien. There now follows a short description of the game from boot-up to assembling on interception squad for the aliens who've landed on Earth.

The first screen you see is the Geoscape. It's a large, round textured 3Dish representation of planet Earth. It can be rotated a full 360 degrees in any plane of latitude and longitude. In other words, you can centre on any part of the globe so that it appears in the middle of the screen. From there the section that's been centred on can be zoomed into or out of.

Base control
Your first task lies in the placement of a base which is your UFO early warning detection station. It hosts all the amenities required for efficient early warning and interception of UFOs: Living quarters for personnel, hangars for interception aircraft, research laboratories, detection radar and a while host of other essential facilities.

Ideally, the base should be placed in a land-locked area. This way, when a UFO is detected and shot down, the wreckage is more likely to be recovered by your clean up crews of shock troops. This is where the game's Laser Squad element comes in. But rather than use the old top-down style of the original Laser Squad, the Gallops have opted for a more satisfyingly solid 3D isometric view. And very effective it is too. The graphics are lush, aesthetically pleasing, beautifully and, er, they look good as well.

Sabre Team players will recognise the tactics and strategies needed to neutralise the alien invaders. Line of sight, limited movement, return fire, use of cover, minimisation of risk, effective use of weapons, personal armour - they are all there to be exploited, refined and perfected. The task of defending the Earth isn't an easy one.

Soldiers improve with every successful mission they take part in.

Fatal progression
Moreover, your soldiers improve with every successful mission they take part in. You start off with some rookies. Each one with his own name. As they improve, they become more resilient and more accurate with their weapons. And they progress through the ranks with each successful mission. You can't help but become attached to them. Which at times can be a bit of a bind. I had to leave the office for a few minutes after I lost Sergeant Henri Coicaud. He was ambushed by a couple of the aliens while ona lone wolf mission. He will be sorely missed by all.

Although the missions are generated randomly, they increase in difficulty very quickly and the aliens use progressively more dangerous and effective technology. To counteract this, you can recruit scientists and carry out research.

As soon as the research is finished - it may be on developing a new laser pistol, for example - you can manufacture that item with some of your engineers. Your scientists can also engage in evolutionary analysis - from laser pistol to laser rifle, for example.

Experimentation and manufacture is the crux of the game. In order to win, you have to build a spaceship that will travel to Mars and let you take the aliens on in their own environment. To do this, alien technologies must be exploited and made best use of.

And the game starts to get pretty exciting as soon as some of the heavier weapons and artifacts become available to you. There's nothing more satisfying than dowing an alien with only one shot from a laser pistol or a rifle when it would have taken two or three shots to finish him off with standard equipment.

Jack of all trades
Basically, you've got to be all things to all people - strategist, technician, financial manager, warrior, leader and ultimately, saviour of the world.

The mechanics of the game that let you realise this rather lofty ambition are everything we've come to expect form Microprose - slick, unobtrusive, well thought out, logically laid out very challenging.

The Geoscape is lvoely, it handles easily and lets you get on with the game. The bases are extremely easy to build and modify, with many features included that you wouldn't have thought necessary until you start using them. And most of all, the tactical section is genuinely tension-building. Especially when you grow attached to your little blokes and can name them all personally.

Because of the sheer quantity and quality of the choice of games on the Amiga market, you never really go back to them for another play unless it's for a feature or something - or unless a game is exceptionally good. UFO: Enemy Unknown is one I'll go back to again and again. Highly recommended.

UFO: Enemy Unknown UFO: Enemy Unknown UFO: Enemy Unknown
In order to make sure that you can view buildings, craft, aliens and the like from different heights, UFO lets you view from various levels above the ground. Here we see a ground, first and second floor view of a Skyrangers that has flown to an alien crash site.
UFO: Enemy Unknown UFO: Enemy Unknown UFO: Enemy Unknown UFO: Enemy Unknown

Weapons, armour and functional utilities such as Medi-kits can be researched and manufactured by your scientists and engineers respectively. Their success is absolutely vital, otherwise you lose the game. Therefore, new weapons and alien artefacts must be researched continually.

UFO: Enemy Unknown logo

Während die MicroProse-Aliens den PC bereits im Nachfolger "X-COM - Terror from the Deep" heimsuchen, landet das komplexe Ur-Progi erst ein halbes Jahr nach der AGA-Version auch auf Standard-Amigas. Na, besser spät als nie!

Fast hättten auch die führenden Wirtschaftsmächte der Erde zu spät gemerkt, daß uns gegen Ende dieses Jahrtausendes massive Übergriffe aus dem All bevorstehen. Doch ruft man mit der X-Com noch rechtzeitig ein AbfangKommando ins Leben und unterstellt die wackeren Alienjäger dem Spieler einer stark strategielastigen Mischung aus Simualtion, Abenteuer und Action...

Nachdem man sich für einen der fünf Schwierigkeitsgrade entschieden hat, wird auf einem zom- und drehbaren Globus der Standort des ersten von maximal acht Stützpunkten gewählt. Hier macht sich bereits der Geschwindigskeitsverlust im Vergleich zu A1200 bzw. A4000 bemerkbar, denn bis Mütterchen Erde da auf einen Mausklick reagiert, dauert es schon ein Weilchen.

Etwas flotter klickt es sich durch die diversen Menüs, wo sich die Stationen mit den unterschiedlichsten Gebäuden vom Labor über Radarsysteme bis hin zu Hangars ausstatten lassen.

Das Personal besteht aus Wissenschaftlern, Ingenieuren und Soldaten, wobei das Militär und seine Jäger oder Truppentransporter mit jeder Menge High-Tech (z.B. verschiedene Waffensysteme) ausgerüstet werden können.

Da alles kostet natürlich eine Stange Geld, doch erfolgreichen Kommandeuren greifen die 16 GründungsStaaten der X-Com Großzügig unter die Arme. Zudem läßt sich der Kontostand durch den Verkauf von Eigenentwicklungen wie Laserpistolen und Bewegungsscanner bzw. Nachbauten von außerirdischem Equipment aufmörteln.

Und schließlich die Forscher forschen, Gebäude gebaut werden und die bestellten Teile unterwegs sind, darf man getrost den Zeitablauf auf die höchste der sechs Stufen stellen: bei wichtigen Ereignissen stoppt die Uhr nämlich automatisch, und ein Infofenster erscheint.

Hier wird denn auch immer wieder mal der Anflug eines UFOs gemeldet, was unsere Abfangjäger auf den Plan ruft - sie sollen die Untertasse möglichst über Land zum Absturz bringen, damit bis zu 14 Kämpfer (Panzer an Bord reduzieren die Truppenstärke) das Wrack samt der Umgebung nach Aliens und Artefakten durchkämmen können.
Klar, daß es dabei auch hier wieder zu rundenweise ausgetragenen Gefechten kommt.

Der zuletzt beschriebene Teil des Spiels ist natürlich der spannendste, erfordert jedoch auch am meisten Geduld: Die Gerangel in der Iso-Grafik gehen oft etwas zäh über die Bühne, versprechen bei Erfolg aber auch verbesserte Charakterwerte für die Soldaten und (nach Analyse der Beute) grandiose wissenschaftliche Erkenntnisse.

Die optische Präsentation der Alienhatz war indessen noch nie grandios und hat hier zusätzlich ein wenig gelitten; dito der Sound. Aber insbesondere von der Festplatte kann das hochkomplexe UFO auch am 500er noch als "unheimlich fesselndes Objekt" umschrieben werden! (st)

UFO: Enemy Unknown logo

They're out there you know. We've sen documentary evidence.

There are no more heroes. In the world of endemic cynicism in which we live, anyone who develops the slightest aura of nobility or greatness is grabbed, ground down between society's gnashing molars and spat out, left as a salivary smear. (Anything you want to tell us about, C-Monster? - Ed) in the gutter for passing Samaritans to throw change to. Metaphorically speaking, natch.

Consider the case of Julian Gollop who exploded into public view in the days of the Spectrum, categorically stating that "arcade games are complete crap". He wrote a series of games that ran with the pace of the best shot-'em-ups while confronting you with the huge mental task of overcoming intelligent computers or even seven other real people.

They had enough addictive punch to tear our your windpipe, but now ten years down the line my hero has created something that's depressed me more than my last Ex.

An illustrative analogy, perhaps?
Take an original Calvin and Hobbes strip, clean of form and pure of purpose. Now photocopy it, then copy the copy, and five replications further on, you've created a meaningless, ugly black scrawl. Ladies and Gentlemen: I give you UFO (A500).

But essentially this is the same charming A1200 game which Cam so elegantly reviewed in AP43, bravely claiming that it was Laser Squad meets Premier Manager and worth 85%. What's changed?

It certainly isn't the graphics, which area fair approximation of the original's, even though the palette's occasionally garish, and all the soldiers skate rather than walk due to the complete lack of walking animations. The music (obviously) is a TOOL OF THE DEVIL HIMSELF, but since you can turn it off, we can't blame it for UFO's diabolic nature.

The gameplay is identical to that of its parent, mixing thought-provoking economics and turn-based man-on-wargame action. There's still the ridiculously large handguns for annihilating fearsome aliens who've come to steal our women, and present and correct is the intuitive action point system. So what's up?

Man-on-man wargame action

Speed my friends. It seems that no-one's playtested this to see how it actually plays on the A500. I mean if they had, they'd have noticed that any half-decent battle leads to the appetizing prospect of a fifteen minute wait between turns, and I could have been spared the hot, furious tears that spilled across my cheek while I waited FORY FIVE (count 'em!) MINUTES before being allowed to (y'know) play again. I repeat for the Championship Manager fans at the back. Forty. Five. Minutes. They might as well have printed WAIT WHILE I WASTE THE MOST PRECIOUS YEARS OF YOUR LIFE.

Playing from disks, even when you're having your turn, the game loads when you attempt to scroll the screen. It loads when you press half your controls. Mouse clicks occasionally register seconds after you've pressed it, leading to the delightful phenomena of troops wandering aimlessly into our fiendish foes' firing line, or your obscenely vicious tank obliterating friendly operatives as they crawl stealthily through the undergrowth.

And in terms of ruining atmosphere we see startling innovations. In a moment of sheer genius the game skips back to Workbench for several seconds at the climax of each level. Truly this must be the Programming SNAFU of Champions. This lack of momentum reveals Laser Squad's tedious wargame mechanics that were previously hidden under an effervescent rush of pace.

Completely naked, UFO appears to have an unappealing pot belly. With an accelerator, this would be as cool as multi-flavoured Toffos, and even with a hard drive, you're delightfully spared the disk-accessing agony, but what's the point of an A500 game which doesn't work on a bog-standard A500? No point, comrades. No point at all.

UFO: Enemy Unknown logo

Price: £29.99 Publisher: Microprose 01454 326 532

What? Hasn't UFO been kicking arround for quite a while now? Yes it has but before now only A1200 and A4000 owners had the privilege of enjoying this high-scoring, isometric view action/strategy game. Now Amiga owners everywhere can head up a team of brave warriors, the Xcom, whose mission is to wipe out all the evil nasty alien scum trying to take over the planet.

Starting off with one base, some weaponry and an eight-man crew you eventually build up a global network of bases, where you can hire more men, research and develop bigger and better weaponry and generally get yourself well prepared for a bit of one-on-one combat with the green slimey ones (we all know aliens are green, don't we?)

Combat takes two forms: air combat and ground battle. Air combat is the initial form of contact with the enemy. Once you've successfully managed to make the UFO crash over land, not water, you can then send your team in to investigate the wreckage. Checking out the debris leads into ground combat, which is a chess like scenario where you move your men strategically and then wait while your opponent does likewise.

The turn taking system can be irritating because the enemy takes longer to make each move as the game goes on. This was one of the criticisms levelled at the earlier game and this isn't any different. Also, in this version the graphics are a bit blocky in places and the amount of disk swopping and waiting time can get a bit tedious.

Those niggles aside, UFO is still a great game, so if you fancied the original version but didn't have an AGA machine, now's your chance.

If you've never played UFO but would like an action/strategy game, like Laser Squad or Sabre Team, that will keep you engrossed for hours on end, then UFO is well worth a look.

Terror aus dem All

UFO: Enemy Unknown AGA logo AGA A1200 Speziell

Zunächst dürften nur PC-Strategen aus den fliegenden Untertassen von Microprose kosten, jetzt werden auch AGA-Amigos zur Erdverteidigung rekrutiert - und falls das nix nützt, kommen später noch "Standard-Freundinnen" zum Zuge.

Vorläufig warden aber bloß 1200er und 4000er ins Jahr 1999 gebeamt, wo aggressive Aliens die Erde hartnäckig attackieren. Und weil man sich nicht gerne widerstandslos zerbröseln läßt, sind weltweit acht Stützpunkte zu errichten, um die UFOs zu orten und vom Himmel zu holen - was dann von der fremden Technologie noch übrig sein sollte, muß im Auftrag eines Konsortiums aus 16 Ländern wissenschaftlich inspiziert werden. Und damit diese Sponsoren nicht den Geldhahn zudrehen, ist man gut beraten, ihre Gebiete besonders aufmerksam vor dem Terror aus dem All zu schützen...

In der Praxis wählt der Spieler dazu via Globus-Zoom den Standort seiner ersten (Draufsicht-) Station aus und kümmert sich um deren Ausrüstung mit Soldaten, Arbeitern und Wissenschaftlern. Bei Bedarf kann das Personal aufgestockt werden, genau wie die Grundausstattung aus drei Flugzeughangars nebst Fliegern, einer Werkstatt und einem Nahbereichsradar.

Bis der Nachschub eintrifft, vergehen aber Tage, die Neukonstruktion von weiteren Hangars oder einem Alienknast geht einen lahmen Behördengang, und die Bestellung von technischem Schnickschnack liegt auch garantiert ewig auf irgendeinem Schreibtisch herum - ob es sich dabei nun um eine simple Pistole oder einen raketenbestückten Panzer handelt. Kurzum, hier wartet ein gnadenloser Wettkampf mit der Zeit.

Wartezeiten lassen sich zwar mittels der sechsfach variablen Uhr verkürzen, doch irgendwann flimmert unausweichlich die Meldung "UFO in Sicht" über den Radarscreen. Dann müssen schnellstmöglich die Jäger auf Abfangkurs gebracht werden, um dem Feind in Echtzeit und mittels Mausklick den Bodenkontakt aufzuzwingen.

Jetzt wird ein Transportschiff voller Soldaten, Waffen und Panzer zur Absturzstelle beordert, wo die (aus bis zu acht Köpfen bestehende) Truppe in detailreichen Iso-Landschaften jenen Aliens hinterherjagt, die das Debakel vielleicht überlebt haben. Ein rundenweise ausgetragenes Gemetzel später kann alles, was nicht niet- und nagelfest ist, eingesackt und zur Basis zurücktransportiert werden.

Der Lohn der Mühe sind verbesserte Charakterwerte für die Söldner und jede Menge Arbeit für unsere Weißkittel, die sämtliche Mitbringsel analysieren und möglichst auch nachbauen sollen. Derlei Artefakt-Plagiate bringen nämlich Kohle am Weltmarkt und sind auch eine willkommene Bereicherung des eigenen Equipments.

Insgesamt also eine abwechslungsreiche Mixtur aus Rollenspiel, Echtzeit-Action und Wirtschaftssimulation, die aufgrund ihrer manchmal etwas umständlichen Steuerung aber eine gewisse Einarbeitungszeit erfordert. Wer dem Spiel zudem noch die Nachladepausen verzeihen kann, wird mit leidlicher Grafik, einer ordentlichen Klangkulisse, vielen Statistiken und reichlich Komplexität entschädigt. (md)

UFO: Enemy Unknown AGA logo AGA

Following on the wave of X-Files hysteria sweeping the nation...

They may have come from beyond the galaxy to terrorise the unwary (and in most cases, incredibly stupid) population, they may have technology far surpassing ours, they may be all warty and brown and smell a bit, but they're not fooling anyone. The game's called UFO, but it's nothing more than another reworking of that cranky old game Laser Squad. People of the world - rejoice!

Julian and Nick, the brothers Gollop, wrote Laser Squad abck in the days when they called themselves Target and then sold it under name of Blade. Now (in their ongoing bid to foil the sinister attentions of the Treasury, Josef Mengele's illegitimate son AND certain splinter groups of Hezollah, Party of God) they've written UFO under the nom de plume of Mythos Games Ltd. But even though they've been rattling through the names at a fast enough pace they're still writing the same game - though with a bit of a story this time.

It's the near future (as it is so often) and to try to mee the threat of rampaging alien invaders, the Extraterrestrial Combat Unit (XCOM) (Surely ECU? Ed) has been given permission to violate any country's airspace and shoot down any UFOs they can find. The idea's ultimately to rid Earth of these villains' horrid alien nastiness by developing a ring of defensive bases around the world, but that'll take you a long, long time.

You start the game at the birth of the XCOM organisation, with a single base, a few personnel, minimal stores and a couple of planes. The manual runs a really friendly tutorial section, but the game;s easy enough to get into anyway as long as you're aware of your aims.

The base section of the game presents you with enough stat screens to make even the most complex footy management sim green with envy, and it's this section, that separates UFO from the previous 'stand up and fight' versions of Laser Squad. (Or rebelstar Raiders to trace the game's history right back and impress everyone with our mighty powers).

After each successful combat mission, you return with alien artifacts and weapons which you can then disassemble, examine and ultimately manufacture. In this way your firepower grows, while at the same time you get paid more and more by countries grateful to your protection. So you build more bases, recruit more staff, down more UFOs and eventually make the world a safer place to live in. That's the plan at least.

Pointing and clicking your way through various menus, you can add new sections to the base, order and pay for new equipment (from hand grenades to interceptor jet fightes) and look up stats on all your curiously named staff. There's something about near-future games that assumes everyone will be called Ludquist Svenson or Amall Traventi rather than Paul Greenwood or Billy Brown. Explanations on postcards would be most welcome. (It's a tradition with Gollop games. They started off naming their characters quite sensibly, experimented predictably with people from SF books and then settled on really stupid names. Actually. - Ed)

When you finally spot a UFO, you scramble an interceptor, but unfortunately, the air tracking/air combat part of the game's no fun at all. A small radar screen pops up and gives you the option of engaging the UFO at extreme range, or whooshing in and giving it everything you've got. Either way, it's a bit of a lottery as to who wins.

Certain splinter groups of Hezbollah

If you get them before they get you, you're all ready for phase three of the game - the Laser Squad bit. You pack up to eight soldiers in a transport plane, zoom them straight over to the crash site in a powerful transporter plane, and then send them out with as much equipment as either they can carry or you can afford.

It's bug hunt time. For those of you unfamiliar with Laser Squad (and therefore clinging to the thread of this review by the tips of your fingers) the system works like this. The game takes place in turns. A turn is split into movement points, and these are soaked up by your actions. If you walk, that's a few points gone. If you kneel down or turn around, that's a few more. Firing from the hip takes less points than an aimed shot (but is less accurate), and if you use up all the action points in that soldier's turn they're completely at the mercy of the aliens.

However, if you save enough t shoot back, you can tell your soldier to fire at any aliens moving across his (or her, this is a near-future scenario after all) line of sight. This line of sight rule determines how much of the playing area you can see. Most of the level stays black until your squad's had a look around, and even then buildings and trees cast shadows behind them. Also, if a soldier's got his back to an alien, they won't appear on the screen until the soldier turns around.

The section falls down on two counts. There's something not quite right with the line of sight rules, especially when a soldier's on a higher level than the target. Quite often you'll be on a rooftop with a clear view of the area below, but (obviously wrongly) be told you can't see an alien standing out in the open. Also (and I'll admit this is a personal 'games versus reality' type argument) when a soldier moves past a window, an alien can shoot and kill him as he flashes by - even though the alien would have had no chance to acquire the target. ("Recognise there's someone there and identify them as an enemy soldier." - Ed)

The second (and more important) gripe is time. When it comes to the aliens' turn, you have to sit there and wait for ages while the computer moves them around. I clocked up over six minutes between moves on a particularly hectic level.

The A1200 version of Sabre Team (also a Laser Squad clone, fact fans) (Though not by the Gollops, further fact fans. - Ed) managed to pack all of this baddie-moving down to a few seconds, so what went wrong here? Equally annoying is the high frequency of disk swapping you have to endure. It hampers your enjoyment hugely, and raises suspicion that the game's intended for hard disk owners only, because the floppy version really does provide only a second-rate version of the game.

UFO's still great though. (As long as you play it from a hard drive that is). The missions pop up randomly so you don't get bored when you play it again, new weapons increase your firepower to match the aliens', it's incredibly tense and exciting, and if you mess up badly you get trounced. Just like real life. (But probably without the alien invasion motif).

UFO: Enemy Unknown AGA logo AGA CU Amiga Screen Star

Matt Broughton has never been one to talk to strangers, because that's what his mum told him. She never mentioned what to do if they landed in flying saucers however, so he's just shot this lot from MicroProse. Oh well...

Before I get started here, I'd like to ask you a quick question. If a UFO landed in your back garden tonight, would you; a) Walk very slowly towards it looking all sleepy and wearing only your stripey pajamas. b) Dress in your finest clothes and stride proudly towards those travellers from another world, only too aware that you represent the entire human race. c) Pap your pants, grab the biggest, nastiest gun you could find, and run screaming at the ugly silver gits, trying to rearrange their stomachs using high explosives.

Yes, me too. Strange isn't it, because that's exactly what MicoProse thought. Rather than write a game based around meeting nice little aliens with messages of love and a cure for hiccups (i.e. drinking a pint of chip fat while holding your ankles) they've taken the angle that says, "you haven't got the same number of arms as me, so I'm going to kill you". And to be brutally frank, I'm glad!

To get to the point, UFO is most definitely not a game about putting on nice white jumps suits and offering home-made fruit cakes to small green fish-people. It's about kicking serious alien butt, using some of the most satisfying weaponry you'll find this side of Jabba The Hutt's badroom.

UFO: Enemy Unknown, places you as the leader of a united Earth force known as Xcom. Basically, following a number of UFO sightings - not to mention human abductions and cattle mutilation - the combined nations' leaders have decided that enough is enough, and it's time to get together and show nasty aliens exactly who's several hundred years behind in everything!

It's now down to you to make best use of the funding put your way to build a global network of bases, not to mention hiring the best scientists to research recovered alien artifacts, and to manufacture more potent weapons.

You start with a few decent intercopter aircraft, plus a healthy supply of ground troops just gagging for a chance to kick some serious ET bottom (or whatever this particular race are equipped with in the 'pants' department, along with money to invest in new facilities, more equipment, or better staff.

You can accelerate time, and as the days pass, sighting reports will start to flood in. It's at the point you can test your military might, sending in your interceptors to shoot down the aforementioned cigar-shaped blighters.

Should you successfully knock any alien craft from the sky without either destroying it completely or dumping it into the sea, it's time to send in those troops to do their stuff. This is where the game changes radically from a strategy game to a turn-based action affair in the Sabre Team/Laser Squad mould (which is not surprising since UFO is written by the original LS authors!)

Isometric strategy is the name of the game here, with your individual soldiers having to make the bst use of their given time units. To walk costs so much, as does shooting, climbing, opening doors etc. Kill and surviving aliens and you'll walk away with toys galore, not to mention improved funding from the country involved.

UFO deserves a big pat on the back, as it manages to combine some excellent strategy ideas with some top action (complete with big guns and bigger explosions) to create a satisfying overall package. The strategy bits on their own are rewarding enough, with your scientists making more and more discoveries as time passes by, but coupled with the action sections, UFO really has something to offer.

It's hard to do the game any justice in a single page review because there are just so many things to look at, but UFO really is an enormous can of worms just waiting to be emptied onto your bed (I think I'm going to be sick - Ed).

The only major criticism that holds UFO back from the 90% plus scores, is the fact that the enemy turns during the isometric battles, can sometimes take up to ten minutes (a problem the original Sabre Team suffered from).

Still, I admit to have loved Sabre Team and the original Laser Squad, so call me biased and call me easily pleased, but whatever you do, don't miss out on the many, many hours of gaming that UFO has on offer.