Day 149: UFO Commando

Posted: 2011/04/07 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game (XBLIG) every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #149, and today’s game is “UFO Commando”.

In UFO Commando you get to command a powerful (and at time wacky) assortment of vehicles as you fight your way through each level to an enemy base, and then attempting to escape back to safety. Tight controls and appropriate graphics and sound effects complement a game that’s well worth its 80 Microsoft Point asking price.

First, from the developer (Nicholas Piegdon):

“Take on an alien army, in a continually escalating war! Pilot your UFO into the heart of the enemy base and try to come back in one piece. See if you can top your high score. Includes deformable terrain, multiple vehicles, and four unique worlds.”

This game has a wide variety of locations, but those locations do get re-used frequently (just with more enemies on each successive iteration). When this game was released it was a 240 MSP game, but I think the XBLIG-buying public will be a bit more forgiving of that at its current 80 MSP price. The levels at least do look pretty good, with a cartoony style that fits the lighthearted feel of the game.

UFO Commando’s gameplay has been compared to Scramble, and I can see the connection. In both games you are fighting your way to the enemy HQ, destroying it, and getting out. Both games also re-use levels, just at harder difficulty with each successive playthrough. The comparisons stop there, though. In Scramble you had only one vehicle to pilot, and it was a forced-scroller where the screen kept scrolling horizontally whether you were ready for it or not. UFO Commando, on the other hand, gives you full freedom of flight, and has a wealth of vehicles to choose from.

The vehicle selection adds to both the game’s charm, and to its depth. The vehicles available in the game include the “Flying-Saucer”, the “Laser-Tank”, the “Drill-Tank”, the “Bomber Flying-Saucer”, the “Obsidian-Tank”, and the “Lava-Tank”. Each has different control characteristics, and special abilities. All of them have the ability to deform the environments within the game, and the lava tank has the ability to *add* to the environment. You also have the ability to climb out and use your personal jetpack. Swapping between vehicles, and using their unique features to your advantage, gives the game a depth that horizontally scrolling shooters rarely offer.

While you will see the same levels several times if you play far into the game, that didn’t stop the original Halo from being a huge success. This is an 80 Microsoft Point game that is definitely worth trying, for an experience that starts pick-up-and-play but actually has more depth to it than is immediately apparent when playing the trial.

Click here to download “UFO Commando”, and then please come back after playing to rate the game.



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