HELLO. I’ve been away for a while running flat out at work… but… games!

Finished XCOM. Actually began the final mission, backed out, shot down a couple of battleships, researched the Blaster Launcher (always my favorite weapon from the original) THEN went back into the final mission and finished it.

Much like Shingro, I could go on and on about the satisfying culmination of the emergent narrative here — how I took the world right to the edge of total panic, calmed things with satellites only to creep up again to total freakout mode after the satellite jolt of morphine wore off after a few months.

I don’t know if everybody’s game goes down like this or not, but at the end there on Classic difficulty it absolutely came down to a nailbiter in regards to which countries were going to stay or go. Final tally: UK, Australia, China and Mexico were out, four other countries including the USA on the border between orange and red. I never ever had enough money apart from my giant one-time cash infusion from the Chinese. Always, always playing catchup with my underfunded squad, guys rolling out of hospital beds just to get shot up and put back immediately into traction.

Only in the very very end – the last 3 or 4 missions – did I have anything approximating a squad that matched the vision in my head of what a fully equipped XCOM squad SHOULD be. Titan armor x2, Ghost armor, PSi-Armor and Archangel Suit plus one floating SHIV platform and all the best gear money could buy. Still, those last few missions were magical. Rolling up on Etherials and Mutons like Jesse Ventura with Ol Painless let fully out of the bag.

Also, fantastic endgame segment featuring Tom “Angel” Taylor – aka the most selfless man in XCOM. Angel, my oldest Support class, had taken 100% of the healing perks trade offs in favor of damage output. He wasn’t a bad ass, he just carried a normal plasma rifle and a ton of medkits, but he was always right there first in line when the team needed him the most, serving up suppressing fire and patching up downed guys by running 3+ squares further to make the save every time. When his Psionic potential became self-evident, Angel took only the buffs that benefited the squad: Defensive cover, mental calming. It was no surprise to anyone in XCOM that when the crazy untested Etherial chamber needed a volunteer, Angel stepped up to the plate knowing that its effects were unknown and couldn’t be estimated on human anatomy at this time. Spoiler alert for my playthrough: Angel ended up going down guns blazing in the final mission, buying enough time so that the rest of the XCOM team could survive and evac savely. I want to picture his serene face there at the end. Sniff. Angel, you were always the best of us. Somewhere, there’s a big Normandy style plaque in XCOM HQ right now with that crazy Australian’s name front and center.

So what now? Playing a bunch of pixelated, 2D sidescrolling survival horror, that’s what! Finished HOME last night (the whole thing only takes an hour to play end-to-end). Interesting. Can’t wait to talk about it on the podcast. Also sunk a couple of hours into Lone Survivor which is fascinating in a totally different 2D survival horror kinda way.

Good Haloween times! Someone play Scratches, goddammit.