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Video Game / X-COM: Apocalypse

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X-COM: Apocalypse (1997) is the third game in the X-COM series. Like its brethren, it was published by MicroProse in 1997 for DOS and Microsoft Windows. It's also one of the last games produced by Julian Gollup's company, Mythos Games, before they went bust.

Time: Eve of the 22nd century. Place: The city of Mega Primus. The last battle of T'leth severely damaged the ecological balance of Earth. As a result, several walled cities have been erected to maintain the population, with Mega Primus being the first. Aliens are at it yet again, this time appearing through inter-dimensional portals in a bid to take over. So it's up to you to use your resources as X-Commander to make sure that Mega Primus is safe.

Apoc is an odd duck. It's as much as city-sim as it is a strategy game in the mold of Syndicate. As with the previous X-COMs, your job is to defend against aliens. But instead of defending the planet, you defend a city. You still have most of the old alien tech at your disposal, as well as a few other tricks (androids and half-Sectoid psychics for recruitment). You have a wider variety of choices in vehicles, and can outfit them to your liking, i.e grafting lasers onto fast-as-hell hoverbikes and sending a pair of those at a UFO before calling in heavier craft. You also have the option to play in real-time; MicroProse have taken a side-step here and opted to focus on real-time rather than turn-based action.


Politics still play a role, with each neighborhood being owned by a seperate conglomerate. Each company have their own staff, budget, weapons, and vehicles. If a faction becomes your enemy, they deny you any special services and products they would otherwise provide. Hostile factions may also attack and raid one another, depending on their philosophy. Players can join in on the fun, too: Fed up with a company? Then destroy it beyond all recovery. (They need funding too, and if you hollow out their buildings and raid them...) Everything in the city is destructible. After a big fight, whole districts can become one giant landfill.

In the developer's zeal to change their most successful build while retaining the basic concept, Apocalypse was a game whose reach exceeded its grasp. It could have been a lot better if MicroProse had allotted more time to the developers — but naturally it could also have been worse. Its influence on the current iteration of the franchise is obvious from the Skirmishers in War of the Chosen. Chimera Squad is another game which drifts sideways and takes place in a Mega City where XCOM serves as a coalition of multi-species police. However, Chimera Squad is markedly different in theme and scale.


An open source clone (OpenApoc) is in the works, similar to OpenXCom.

X-COM Apocalypse provides examples of:

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  • Abnormal Ammo
    • Brainsuckers for the... Brainsucker Launcher.
    • Also, the Entropy Launcher: A bioweapon firing homing missiles which release a compound that will dissolve through armor. As an added bonus, they'll make any explosives you're carrying... well, explode.
  • Action Bomb: The Popper aliens are essentially walking bombs.
  • The Aesthetics of Technology: The Aliens and their technology are organically ugly. The Mega-Primus city regulations mandates that everything should look retro-futuristic, which is most noticeable on flying cars. The different armor types look like something out of a Sentai series.
  • After the End: The game is set in 2086 after the cataclysms that struck the planet earlier. The only bastions of civilization are self-sustained "Mega-Cities" and their roving bands of extra-judicial cops à la Judge Dredd. The rest of Earth is a wasteland.
  • Alien Blood: Played straight with the Multiworm (pink blood), Spitter (green blood), Hyperworm, Anthropod, Megaspawn and Queenspawn (all four have purple blood), according to the autopsy screens. Averted with the Brainsucker, Popper, Skeletoid and Overspawn (who all have red blood) and downplayed with the Psimorph (which has orangey-red blood).
  • Alliance Meter: You get cheaper goods the higher your relationship is with an organization. Organizations also have relationships between each other, which affects your standing. If you attack Company A, and Company B is hostile towards Company A, this will make Company B like you more. Meanwhile Company C is friendly towards Company A, so this will also lower your standing with them. Trying to make everyone your best friend is virtually impossible, and not worth the trouble in the first place.
  • Another Dimension: Where the aliens are from. Somehow, they use biotechnology to generate interdimensional portals after surviving a local star going supernova and turning their homeworld into a scorched, barren wasteland.
  • Anti-Air: Various weapon modules for the ground vehicles. They can be fired at ground-level targets as well.
  • Apocalypse How: Planetary, finishing off the job from TFTD.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Civilian vehicles are cheap, and a swarm of them can carry all of your agents to their destination. While you can use agents from multiple vehicles for building investigations or raids, you'll still only be able to take one vehicle to a UFO crash site, though. An X-COM tradition, perhaps?
  • Armless Biped: The Poppers - they don't need them, as they're basically walking bombs. The larger weapon-platform type aliens don't really have proper arms either.
  • Artificial Brilliance: The tactics change throughout the game as both you and aliens get different guns, armor, shields, and other tools. The aliens and other hostiles will also try to use smoke grenades to suppress or disperse fire, stun gas, and anti-alien gas, and often use it to provide cover for their own forces. Few things are as scary as Poppers charging out of smoke grenade cover at close range.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • If you are not doing a base defense mission, you literally have all the time in the world. So, just start Real-Time tactical, go into a room with one entrance, set up a firing line, and wait. All aliens and hostiles will eventually come through the door one by one and get shredded in seconds. This works particularly well in the early game.
    • Fly your ships low to the ground. This causes the aliens' missed shots to hit the nearby buildings, further dropping their rep.
    • The MarSec Police Cruisers will engage any nearby UFOs. Even Motherships! Brave but utterly futile.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever:
    • The Overspawn, which is so huge it's fought on the cityscape rather than ground-based combat.
    • On a small scale, the Megaspawn and Psimorphs: The former being an organic weapon platform about 2-3 stories tall with built-in disruptor beam cannons and missile launchers. The latter is a powerful psionic entity a good 10-12 feet tall and packing Spare Body Parts.
  • Asteroids Monster: Multiworms, which spawn four Hyperworms when killed.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Ground vehicles (motorbikes, roadsters, APCs, tanks, et al). They instantly die whenever the road under them is shot out — which is always, since the roads are easily destroyed. It doesn't help that roads are repaired only at the end of each day; before long, road vehicles won't be able to connect with many areas. Oh, and if that wasn't enough, road vehicles can't be used to recover crashed UFOs.
    • Furthermore, the motorbike and roadster are simply worse (slower, less armor, less hit points, less capacity) than their flying equivalents (hoverbike and hovercar). The tanks are extremely tough, have great weapons, but must stick to the extremely fragile road network. And yes, if the road under your tank gets destroyed, *poof* goes the tank. In addition, they're very slow. This means the only ground vehicle that has some genuine use is the APC, due to its large carrying capacity, which can come in handy early in the game.
    • Defense arrays sound like they'd be awesome weapons by spraying enemy aircraft with energy bolts going in different directions. The reality is that the arrays have horrible accuracy and even worse damage, so players tend to stick with dedicated weapons like the plasma cannon.
    • Lineage Plasma guns are among the most powerful early game weapons and are so small they can be mounted on hoverbikes. The problem is they use Elerium ammo, which is very limited. This is compounded by their long maximum range. Normally that would be a good thing, but in this game it means your craft will waste a lot of ammo by opening fire from a range where they have almost no chance of hitting the enemy.
    • Psionics, while not useless, are simply not efficient. Many aliens are highly resistant or immune to Psi attacks, Stun grenades better than Psi stun, and panic is largely irrelevant. Psi Troops need to start their training early and can only be improved by 3x their base stat which is why only Hybrids make good Psi Troops. However, Hybrids are also physically weak, and you cannot simultaneously train their Psi and physical stats.
  • Bee People: The Aliens, who are all basically various stages of a single life cycle, and they have a single Queen (who, rather unusually, isn't their leader).
  • Biological Weapons Solve Everything: Boy do they ever! Once you get access to Toxins you will absolutely wreck the aliens. Toxic guns ignore enemy shields and will drop most aliens with a few hits, enabling you to quickly kill them while leaving their equipment intact to salvage. This is a particularly effective way to get free personal shield generators. For bonus points, as the projectiles are tuned to work on alien biology they do almost nothing to humans, hybrids, and androids (just a tiny amount of physical impact damage from the dart hitting, at most). So if your toxigun-wielding agents get mindcontrolled or brainsucked, they're far less capable against their former squadmates.
  • Bizarre Alien Reproduction:
    • The reproductive cycle revolves around the Multiworms, Hyperworms, Multiworm Eggs, and the Chrysalis (not to be mistaken for previous Chryssalids). The large, misshapen Multiworms gestate 4 small, pink Hyperworms within themselves; the birthing is fatal to the Multiworm. The Hyperworms then go into a feeding frenzy, aiming to consume as much as possible before finding a safe place where they can, in turn, turn into a Chrysalis or Multiworm Egg. It is within this Chrysalis that other forms of alien life develop, presumably including actual alien weaponry and other biotech devices. The weirdest part? In the end, the alien lifeforms are basically all just carrier-puppets for their true overlords, the Micronoids.
    • Exploiting this lifecycle is a key element of early-game engagement. By deploying to mission sites that you know are infested but you have not yet received local alerts from, you can potentially catch the alien forces in the earlier stages of their development. This applies less and less as the aliens begin deploying more advanced lifeforms using proper transports, but it can still be useful in early phases of the game.
    • By extension, capturing these eggs is essential to advance your knowledge of the alien life cycle, and in turn develop potent anti-alien gas and toxin devices.
  • Bizarre Baby Boom:
    • Genetic hybrids of humans and the Sectoids (last seen in UFO Defense). They have no sinister motives, since the aliens that intended to exploit them were wiped out almost a century earlier, but are still discriminated against by the people and government of Mega-Primus.
    • M.P. also contains Procreation Parks, buildings where couples go to have their children grown in artificial wombs, matching the dummied out research text of the above: "The process could be easily adapted for human reproduction".
  • Blob Monster: Micronoid Aggregates are basically puddles consisting of millions of Psi-capable microorganisms. They're really how the Brainsuckers take over their victims.
  • Body Horror:
    • The aliens' Bizarre Alien Biology is just so unnatural and grotesque (for example, the Megaspawn has numerous organic weapons imbedded in its body, and the Spitter has no head or organs, and upon being subjected to a autopsy is revealed to not even have a brain) that it's hard to see just HOW they could possibly all be the same species. As it turns out, they're not. They're all just various types of (presumably) genetically engineered meat robots for the Micronoids.
    • Much of the aliens' Organic Technology fits under this as well, not to mention their home dimension, which is one big Womb Level.
    • The Micronoids themselves. They're near identical to the X, and have been controlling all the aliens simply by existing in their bloodstream.
  • Bookends: Much of the intro and the good ending are shot by the same surveillance cameras. The triumphant Annihilator lands on the same overpass where a UFO wreaked havoc in the intro.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Hover-bikes, one shot and you are dead. Those little bastards are really difficult to hit, however.
    • Megapol Armor: In a notable contrast to the prior XCOM games, the starting armor in this one is actually quite good. It provides a very high degree of protection against the starting conventional weapons. However, this can backfire, as it means if a squad member is taken over by a Brainsucker, it can take a lot of shots to kill them.
    • Gas Grenades: While certainly not as exciting as guns or explosives, gas grenades probably the most effective weapon in the early parts of the game, since they ignore armor and usually put down an enemy within 1 to 2 turns if they are within the blast zone.
    • The Marsec M4000 machine gun doesn't do a lot of damage and it's accuracy is rather poor, however it's a common weapon and readily available unlike the plasma gun and power sword. Also it has the best rate of fire especially if you dual-wield it, this futuristic Tommy Gun can last you until Devastator Cannons and Toxiguns are commonplace.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Besides their strong damage, disruptor weapons are the only guns that have unlimited ammo (though if you drain the power supply, you have to wait for it to recharge).
  • Brain Food: The aliens have bio-weapons that fire tiny squids directly at your soldiers to suck their brains out.
  • Broken Bridge: If you piss off the Taxi company, you probably lose, because your newly-hired soldiers, scientists and engineers can't figure out how to walk to your base. Luckily, there are ways around it: soldiers can be directed to use the city's people tubes or picked up by X-COM vehicles. The scientists and engineers cannot do this, but will somehow make it to the base you hired them from when you set game speed to maximum.
  • Canada, Eh?: The game follows Mega-Primus, the first of these cities, built over the ruins of Toronto, Canada.
  • Can't Catch Up: Zig-zagged. Androids have great starting stats (Strength and Bravery in particular) compared to humans or hybrids, making them invaluable in the early game, being able to wield heavy armor and weaponry with no loss of speed. However, their stats cannot improve in any way, so they will inevitably be outclassed by a trained team of expert soldiers. Their immunity to Brainsuckers and Psionic attacks, on the other hand, will always be useful, meaning that using Androids long after their stats have been surpassed is a good idea.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Marsec, Solmine and Transtellar had a record of suppressing colonists rights.
  • Corporate Warfare: The less scrupulous corporations wage secret wars against other corporations, and technically X-COM is itself a corporation in 2080s.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The Hybrids. They have great psychic powers and slightly greater reflexes than human soldiers, but are inferior in all other ways. Even worse, they improve their physical stats slowly, and you must assign them to a gym if you want to train their low strength — i.e. they will either be unable to carry much, or they won't be able to train their Psionic powers in the Psi-gym. Finally, they need a special device to use their powers, which means one of their hands will always be full — i.e. they're usually restricted to using pistols, or suffering accuracy penalties. All that said, they have the potential to become X-Com's most powerful agents; it's just that getting there requires literally months of in-game time as well as careful planning and supervision on the player's part.
  • Cult: The Cult of Sirius, who believe that the Aliens are the saviors of humanity. They're the only faction in the game that will start off hating you. And, even if you spend (way) too much money to get their opinion to neutral, they'll never actually like you (the costs are prohibitive) and their opinion will nosedive as soon as you engage any alien forces. They're also (generally) hated by every other faction in Megaprimus. What this that they are perfect raiding material for you to get additional money. Kill 'em all, let their god sort them out, and steal their stuff.
  • Decapitated Army: Averted; you have to methodically and systematically destroy the entire alien infrastructure to win. Resistance wanes after the destruction of the Command Center, then resurges to reach its peak when you commence the final attack on the dimension gate generators themselves, with the surviving alien forces fighting like rabid, cornered animals.
  • Deflector Shields: Disruptor Shields, for both individuals and vehicles.
  • Difficulty Spike: When the aliens get personal Disruptor Shields they become much harder to kill until you research Toxiguns (which ignore shields). Even worse when they start combining them with personal cloaking devices, making them difficult to spot and more difficult to hit.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: If you're very, very good, the Senate will decide that you're very cost-efficent and will reduce your weekly funding.
    • Alien tech/type ramp-up is also dependent on scoring; do too well early on, and you're at risk of biting off more than you can chew.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: One enemy, the Multiworm, splits into 4 very fast, melee-only Hyperworms upon dying, so be careful to not kill one while standing right next to it.
  • Dual Wielding: Real-time does change the battlescape phase a lot. To start with, you can fire two guns simultaneously, making it actually useful.
  • Early Game Hell: The start of the game can be a nightmare, particularly when playing in turn based mode. You'll have to deal with a lot of brain suckers since the early game Anthropods are almost always armed with brainsucker launchers. In turn based mode, most of the time the only way to kill brain suckers before it latches on to someone is with reaction shots. The problem is your team full of rookies will have very limited time units and terrible accuracy, meaning most of their shots will miss. Have fun watching your entire team miss an incoming brain sucker or popper before it latches on to someone or blows your squad to bits. Later game becomes a lot easier as your team gains experience with reaction shots and accuracy. Also brain suckers are encountered less often since later game enemies mostly switch to more conventional weapons.
  • Enemy Mine: Factions have a matrix of relationships, and an attack on given faction will cause those who are more hostile to the target to support the attack. If attacking aliens causes relationships to decrease with other corporations, then they like the aliens a bit more than they like X-COM.
  • Every Man Has His Price:
    • You can pay corporations to increase relations, get access to more sellable items, better recruits and such. Also money can compensate for cityscape/tactical damage you inflict on them and their wallets. They can demand these sums when your latest tactical mission or UFO dogfight tore up some of their assets in the crossfire.
    • The only organization you should routinely bribe is Transtellar; if you lose them, your new agents and scientists won't be able to use taxis to get to base (there are ways around this) and you will be unable to transfer equipment between bases, which can be a big problem since you cannot transfer non-researched items manually (other items can be transferred by equipping them to an agent or vehicle).
  • Eviler Than Thou: The aliens are revealed to have enslaved the surviving Sectoids as livestock - saving these Sectoids will greatly improve your relationship with the Mutant Alliance.
  • Fantastic Racism: Sectoid Hybrids and Androids are at best treated as second-class citizens.
  • Fictional Political Party: Major parties of Mega-Primus Senate are similar rivals Extropians and Technocrats.
  • Final Boss, New Dimension: The Aliens' goal is take over Mega-Primus as a first step to taking over the world. Your mission is to invade the alien dimension and to destroy their city, one building at the time.
  • Flying Car: Relatively common vehicle type in Apocalypse.
  • Fridge Horror: It is entirely possible that X-COM was responsible for the third game.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The fact that a robots' rights group in Apocalypse would call itself the "Sentient Engine Liberation Front" clearly indicates that they deserve more credit than they're given.
  • The Goomba: The Cult is a wonderful source of money during the slow days when you have few alien incursions. (If the cultists don't want to be persecuted then they shouldn't keep so much valuable loot in their temples.) Be careful though, because soon the cultists will start sporting things like rocket launchers and even alien equipment like Boomeroids.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Killing personnel or damaging their property will make that organization angry, but simply stunning their units or stealing items from them strangely does not. Also, the guards won't open fire unless they already hate you or you provoke them, so if you grab a bunch of stun gear, then raid someone who doesn't hate you, they will never fire back, and you can safely take everything that spawns on the floor without consequence.
  • Guns Akimbo: The Real Time combat mode allows this — oddly, turn-based did not; carrying two guns penalized accuracy and only let you fire one at a time. Whilst troopers suffer (sometimes considerable) accuracy penalties for dual-wielding certain large weapons, it's quite feasible to use two autocannons at once if one so chooses. With a bit of tweaking for fully automatic fire and large magazines, you really have to be careful with that Explosive and Incendiary ammo. Late game, one of the strongest offensive options is to dual-wield Toxiguns, pumping out streams of Toxin C darts at any alien that moves.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Hybrids are the result of cross-breeding humans with Sectoids (similar to the ADVENT Troopers from X-Com 2). They have the telltale eye-slant and baldness. Hybrids are mentally powerful, but physically weak.
  • Harder Than Hard: On Superhuman, you have to regularly raid the Sirius cult and some choice gangs, and have one workshop building stuff to sell. Otherwise, your funding will vanish into thin air.
  • Hated by All: Raid the Cult of Sirius constantly. No-one will care, and you can raid their stashes of drugs and then sell them.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The Sectoids, once rescued, and the Sectoid Hybrids, who will serve you as loyally as any human soldier.
  • Hero Insurance: Averted - you pay for the collateral damage.
  • Hot Blade: The Power Sword, a powerful blade weapon that is enhanced by a Elerium-powered plasma sheath.
  • I Fought the Law and the Law Won:
    • Some organizations can make winning the game very difficult if they become hostile, such as Transtellar (mass transit) suddenly refusing to transport new hires to your base, MegaPol (the police) or MarSec (old X-COM colony gone "security" company) attacking your craft on sight and refusing to sell you any weapons. Both combined supply the majority of all weapons/armor early on.
    • Another reason for not making enemies out of everyone is that you'll be tormented with frequent base invasions if you annoy someone too much. This invariably results in the death of a few of your unarmed and unarmoured scientists, as well as being extremely irritating. What this boils down to is: Keep manufacturing equipment with the best profitability margins with your engineers for cash flow; keep raiding companies you don't like for equipment, while making your troops dualwield Devastator cannons and sweeping fire across their maps in real-time combat to make them so poor they cannot afford to raid you... and keep bribing Transtellar to keep their opinion of you maxed out. You can theoretically level the entire city except for Transtellar... including the government and the police.
    • Leveling entire city blocks will turn the senate against you, which results in your funding being cut, and usually game over (unless you're making an enormous amount of money selling manufactured or stolen goods).
  • Infinity -1 Sword: The androids are strong, tough, fast, very hard to tire out, almost impossible to make panic, and completely and utterly immune to two potentially devastating forms of attack; Brainsuckers, and Mind Control. Early and late-game, they make very dependable soldiers - but the price for this dependability is no stat-growth. Human soldiers will eventually come to outclass androids, but only after weeks of training and (potentially lethal) battlefield experience.
  • Infinite Stock For Sale: Averted, there's a limited amount of equipment that shows up in the market and not everything is immediately available. Furthermore, advanced tech is restricted to certain weapon types - for example the sole laser gun is the laser sniper rifle.
  • Interservice Rivalry: This is why X-COM will usually end up allied with Megapol, and enemies with MarSec; Megapol starts very hostile to the aliens, and mutually unfriendly with Marsec (what with them being rivals in private security and all). As a result, each time you attack the aliens you'll gain a good amount of reputation with Megapol, and take a small hit with Marsec; they're not necessarily alien sympathizers, they just don't like that you're getting all buddy buddy with their competitor.
  • Invisibility Cloak: The Personal Cloaking Field, which pops up very late in the game. It's not perfect (attacking from cloak causes it to shimmer and partially reveal the user) but it's pretty damn useful.
  • Isometric Projection: In addition to traditional Isometric Battlescape, the Cityscape also uses this perspective.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: Good job, you got Earth warped into another dimension.
  • The Joys of Torturing Mooks: 1) Send a hoverbike to shoot at one of the Cult's temples, spawning a response force of angry, armed hovercars. 2) Proceed to drive hoverbike around the city watching the hovercars blow up everything with their missed shots, making everyone who owns the buildings mad at the Cult. 3) Enjoy watching the gangs raid the cult because the Cult blew up their Slums. 4) Profit.
  • Jump Physics: In the prior titles, agents were incapable of actually jumping. Sure you could make them walk off a ledge and fall down if needed, but you couldn't command them to jump across a gap. Now, in Apocalypse, agents can! They can only clear very short distances and it's manual command only, but it can be useful in certain circumstances.
  • Just Before the End: The aliens invade from a doomed, volcanic planet in another dimension where most other life has been scorched away by the local star's supernova.

  • Meat Moss: The Alien Dimension. This also applies to the flying saucers themselves. Everything is organic in construction.
  • Mega City: Mega-Primus itself, obviously.
  • Mega-Corp: About ten major ones in Apocalypse, among a few others it'd probably be a good idea to defend against alien infiltration. Meanwhile, the off-world colony of Mars is exploited by the Elerium mining corporation, Solmine, and oppressed by MarSec (MARs SECurity).
  • Mercy Mode: Apocalypse finally got Dynamic Difficulty the way it was intended in the first two games. If you lose miserably to a raid of large UFOs, next time you may face something weaker. Down to even Probes and Scout Ships.
  • Mob War: Rare, but happens sometimes, as there are three major opposing gangs in the city; Osiron, Psyke, and Diablo.
  • Monster Protection Racket: Ironically, the fastest way to improve reputation with an organization is to let the aliens attack their buildings; an Overspawn attack can turn an unfriendly organization into an ally very quickly.
  • Nerf: Psionics. Hybrids are poor agents due to their low strength, which also makes them slow as hell in Megapol armor. Psy abilities also take a ridiculously long time to train; you have to be willing to keep your psy-troopers on the bench for a couple of months. Even then, a lot of alien types are completely immune to psionics - either because they're too stupid or because they also possess powerful psionic abilities.
  • Nothing but Skin and Bones: The Skeletoids look like Uncanny Valley skeletons with skin draped over them.
  • The Nudifier: The Entropy Gun. It's a homing bio missile which, on hitting, starts to dissolve all your armour and weapons.
  • Obvious Beta:
    • Due to budget and publisher issues, Apoc is a mere shell of what it was going to be. The interface is very clunky and soldiers often respond poorly to your commands.
    • The game is pretty stable... as long as you play it in real-time. Turn-based works, but the game definitely was not balanced around it. And since the missions are often TFTD cruise ship-style Bug Hunts, it becomes tiresome quickly. At times, you will spend an hour finding the last alien in a map, and it will end up being a brainsucker on a roof that you can't get to (say, on top of a skyway between two towers).
  • Off-Model: Gollup blames the in-house artists, who were simply not up to the task of rendering 3-D sprites on an isometric field. This is why humanoid characters look a bit off when they move around.
  • Organic Technology: Everything the Aliens use, except for the guns they stole from Sectoids.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: In the form of vaguely pyramid-like portals.
  • Permanent Elected Official: The Senate building. It's owned by the city government which provides X-Com's weekly allowance (this game's Council of Nations). Somewhat oddly, your standing with the government is completely unconnected to what the two main political parties think of you.
  • Permanently Missable Content: The most powerful toxin can only be researched if you capture the Queen alien. If you kill her then there's no chance of getting Toxin C.
  • Phlebotinum Bomb: The Alien Gas grenades and missiles, hurt only aliens while doing nothing to humans.
  • Point Defenseless: Laser Defense Arrays. The Plasma version is better.
  • Poison Is Corrosive: Ah, good ol' Entropy Launcher. Aliens have an acid gun which forces your trooper to drop their stuff on the spot where they got hit, or else it will melt everything off. One of the nastiest weapons in any of the games.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The Micronoids.
  • Raygun Gothic: The general art-style. There is something surreal about being attacked by a "Military-grade hovercar" which resembles a cherry-red 50s Plymouth convertible.
  • Real-Time with Pause: One of two Battlescape modes. Each mode has its own pros and cons.
  • Robot Buddy: Androids are the UAVs of X-Com: Apocalypse. An Android's stats are based on its construction and they are not able to improve physically in any way. Though this may appear to limit their usefulness, androids have good starting stats from the moment they are hired and work well as bullet sponges. Also unique to the Androids is their immunity to psionics: Brainsuckers take no interest in attacking them.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!:
    • Even if every corporation in the city turns against you (either by subversion by the aliens or by hating you for any number of reasons) and the Senate ceases funding and threatens to shut you down, you can keep fighting for survival so long as your bank account remains in the positive... and as long as you have a functional base and a steady source of income to sustain your private army, you can go renegade. Want to show the Senate what you think of their threats? Go level half the city. Mwhahahahahahaha!
    • Sources of said income include: Raiding enemy corporations. Manufacturing and selling alien equipment. Selling captured alien equipment. Acting as a pusher for alien techno-drugs. It is strongly recommended that you cease employing conventional vehicles as soon as feasibly possible, as alien-derived craft do not require maintenance fees or fuel. Doing so can considerably reduce your maintenance bills.
    • You cannot make an enemy of Transtellar, as they control all public transit. Civilians like your scientists and engineers require public transports to move from base to base, or to bring new hires to your labs. They cannot use your own vehicles for this, which means you can flip off the police, vaporise the assets of the Megacorps and violently depose the government but God help you if you annoy the Taxi drivers.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Marsec and the M4000 autogun are a reference to the early Gollop brothers game, Laser Squad.
    • Given its similar name and design, the Megapol Lawpistol is likely a reference to the Lawgiver MKII from Judge Dredd.
  • Sinister Geometry: The trans-dimensional portals are represented by floating, electrified prisms.
  • Spare Body Parts: Psimorphs are explained to be so resilient because they have as many as twelve copies of every major organ.
  • Take Cover!: Agents are smart enough to automatically duck in and out of cover when operating in Safe and Cautious modes, whether playing on Real-Time or Turn-Based, which can save you a lot of micromanagement headaches. Place them behind a couch and they'll automatically duck down behind it after taking reaction fire or until their weapon is ready to fire again; they can also side-shuffle to peek and fire around corners.
  • The Syndicate: Three of them.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Personal teleporters in Apocalypse. Aliens appear to 'beam down' to buildings on the Cityscape with some form of white tube effect, not to be mistaken for the ominous blue Micronoid Rain.
  • Title Drop:
    • The Apocalypse Mission may be triggered if X-Com does too well against the aliens in the late mid-game. Basically, the aliens throw everything they have left at Mega-Primus to kill everybody. On the plus side, all the surviving organizations will join the fight to save the city with everything they have.
    • This attack will not happen on the easier levels, and may not even happen on the hard levels.
    • But when it's over, it's over. Their armada will be destroyed and they have, for all intents and purposes, lost the war. You still have to complete the Alien Dimension missions, but can do so completely at your leisure. Mega-Primus is safe.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay:
    • At that time, the idea of real-time squad based combat was very new. Other games had tried it (Tegel's Mercenaries), but to wrap it around the X-COM concept was a leap ahead. If the UI, squad loadouts, and navigating the map weren't so dated and hard to learn, it would hold up better. Damn thing is like landing an airplane with the controls half-melted.
    • Watch where the UFOs drop their red pixie dust. Don't wait for alerts to tell you where to send your soldiers. Whilst investigating without cause upsets the building owner, deploying to a site you know is infested before receiving an alert can mean facing weaker, less-developed alien forces due to their biological technology and lifecycle mechanics.
    • Don't equip air vehicles with missiles unless there is clear line of sight. Otherwise they will fire all their ordnance straight into a retirement home.
    • Apoc pretty much has to be played in real-time mode with the Pause button being your "turn-based" solution. Anyone brave enough to try the actual turn-based mode would have their soldiers all set up, slowly moving from cover to cover only to have a pack of face huggers charge in (through closed doors and 10 turns' worth of territory) and frag your entire squad as if they were civilians.
    • Don't let your aircraft get too trigger happy against UFOs that are near the Transtellar tube system. One hit can bring huge stretches of it down and make them super-pissed, which makes hiring and transferring difficult.
    • It is better to be mediocre in the first week than to prevent all alien invasions. If you do well, stupidly-powerful ships appear and you will struggle to contain the sheer number of alien incidents.
  • Tube Travel: The main form of pedestrian travel in Mega-Primus.
  • Universal Poison: Averted. The first poison deployed by X-COM, "Toxin A", is only really effective against the most primitive aliens and possibly more dangerous to mankind. As research progresses, X-COM develops more specialized toxins that hurt advanced aliens more and humans less.
    • Having one poison affect all the various alien lifeforms is also justified because it turns out they are all actually the same species, which undergoes a chrysalis stage from which they can emerge in radically different forms, and because they all carry a microbial Puppeteer Parasite in their bloodstream.
  • Urban Segregation: Outside of Mega-Primus there are few old, degraded buildings that is all that is left of old Toronto. Hybrids and Androids are forced to live here, while the gangs operate from there.
  • Urban Warfare: Most of the game takes place in one big city, so this is inevitable.
  • Useless Item: The Blazer Turbo Bike. Earthbound, no offensive capability, no cargo space, and seats only one agent. This item would have been useful if the intrigue/espionage gameplay wasn't Dummied Out, but it was, so this vehicle is absolutely useless.
    • Obviously you can't use the Brainsucker Launcher against the aliens (though, theoretically, you could use it against neutral or hostile human factions... if the pods weren't immediately transferred to containment for research/disposal), and the Entropy Launcher is of very limited use as most of the aliens do not wield manufactured weaponry. It can melt anything that tool-using aliens (Anthropods and Skeletoids) are using, but that would destroy potentially useful/valuable loot.
  • Uterine Replicator: Making babies the old-fashioned way is unpopular by the time of 2084, where they are now grown in Procreation Parks.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The alien dimension is an excessively long version of this trope, as you systemically destroy every single part of their operation. By the time you've taken out the breeding grounds and 'shipyard', you've functionally won, though you technically still need to go to all the trouble of taking out the Gate Generators to actually get the victory cutscene.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: You can now combine different armor parts. For example, Marsec flying armor is basically toilet tissue. To mitigate this, use Megapol arms, legs and head with a Marsec torso, which is the only part required to fly.
  • The War Sequence: The Apocalypse Mission may be triggered if X-Com completes half the missions in the Alien Dimension: every alien ship in the dimension will go through the gate and start laying waste to the city. Thankfully, this only happens on higher difficulties, and can only occur once per game.
  • We Buy Anything: Strangely not averted. However, apparently Adam Smith Hates X-COM's Guts, since market prices for player-manufactured items in Apocalypse can only go down.
  • We Sell Everything: Subverted, as it required you to maintain good relations with a variety of Mega Corps to obtain troops, aircraft, weapons, safety from police interference, etc.
  • Weird Trade Union: "S.E.L.F." - the Sentient Engine Liberation Front - is an activist group fighting for Androids to have the same rights as humans. X-COM needs to be on good terms with them for them to allow androids to enlist. See also the "Mutant Alliance" which addresses the same needs for hybrid soldiers.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: UFO Defense only had two sprites for men and women, but every soldier in Apoc looks the same (some Korean-looking dude), even if they're half-alien or a robot, though the mugshots do vary.
  • Zerg Rush:
    • Buying a huge fleet of hoverbikes, and then swarming the smaller UFOs, is a surprisingly effective tactic. The scouts and even smaller transports will be overwhelmed shot down by sheer numbers. This won't work once the cruisers and bigger show up, as the result will just be a lot of dead hoverbikers.
    • Successfully completing the Dimension Gate Generator Mission in Real Time on the Superhuman level is nigh impossible, due to the sheer volume of reinforcements that flood the building.