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  • Annoying Video Game Helper: The scientist in Enforcer will leave you with a pathological need to kill him. Sadly, even at the beginning when you can actually see and shoot him, it has no effect. The Aliens get to him on Medium and Hard difficulties, in the end, but this lacks some satisfaction.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: The original game was actually cancelled at some point, with the actual makers not being told of it and continuing to work in secret.
  • Anticlimax Boss: It's practically a series tradition, with the final opponent of each game tending to be either embarrassingly weak, or simply far less epic than you'd expect. Here are some examples of just how pitiful the final fights can get.
    • UFO Defense. You fly to Mars, endure two grueling levels, enter the final chamber to find the leader of the alien forces... and it's giant brain which can't even defend itself. Sure, there's a lot of Ethereal Commanders in the room, but you can win by lobbing an explosive at the target from the elevator.

      That's not the most humiliating part of it. A squad of psionically-inclined troops can chain a bunch of mind-controlled aliens together and have them dispose of the boss.
    • Without even meeting the boss, the blaster bomb can destroy the brain through the ceiling of the room below.
    • The sequel, Terror from the Deep, is even worse. The final mission is much considerably easier, and not only is Cthulhu incapable of hurting you, his bodyguards kinda suck, too.
    • Apocalypse was an interesting case where the closest thing it had to a "final boss" (the Queenspawn, the source of all the aliens) wasn't actually your ultimate target, and you confronted it before the last mission of the game (if you captured it alive, you could even use it to research a powerful new weapon). The final mission of the game required you to destroy the enemy dimension portals to end their invasion instead. For what it's worth, the Queenspawn is large, impressive and surprisingly dangerous- but it's also immobile and has a limited field of fire, making it vulnerable from the sides and rendering it harmless if you know what you're doing and don't get too distracted by its guards.
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    • Enemy Unknown has a very hard, long final level. The final boss fight, however, can be made laughably easy if you position your troops in the right spot and the squad is of an appropriately high level. There is a good chance the squad can kill the boss in their first turn of combat before it even moves.
    • XCOM 2 doesn't really have a "final boss"- at the end of the final level, you simply have a big brawl against waves of endlessly-spawning enemies, along with 3 Avatars. While the fight is actually no pushover, you've fought and killed an Avatar already earlier in the game, so just having to kill 3 more of them is hardly a grand climax. And it doesn't help matters that they're still vulnerable to Repeaters.
    • Chimera Squad, besides being longer than most, its final mission isn't particularly difficult, and its Final Boss is a glorified Mook Not even an Elite Mook, just s standard goon whose only noticeable mechanic is his inability to die the first time you get his health to 0.
  • Awesome Music
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Admirably, X-COM is balanced to a degree which undermines this. Late-game enemies such as Sectopods have a built-in resistance to plasma weapons, which throws your entire arsenal out of whack if you've sold off your laser weaponry. The baseline tactic of priming a smoke grenade on Turn 1, throwing it, and deployment on Turn 2 is not a cure-all; The Skyranger might deposit you directly in front of a Muton, priming his own grenade in anticipation, so you had better scout around. You might think yourself clever for waiting out the clock and letting the aliens come to you. But at least when the aliens are huddled in the UFO, you know where to find them; if you wait until Turn 20, they will file out of the UFO and fan across the battlescape, increasing the chance of a surprise ambush. There is no sure-fire, winning strategy.
  • Contested Sequel:
    • While the first game regularly tops (or is at least present in) various "best game" lists, opinions on the sequels are another matter entirely. Outside of die-hard fans, many aren't aware that sequels existed in the first place:
      1. Terror from the Deep: Challenging upgrade to the original game with an awesome Lovecraft-esque atmosphere and a few forgivable bugs, or samey, buggy Mission-Pack Sequel?
      2. Apocalypse: A superior update to the formula with an excellent real-time combat mechanic, or an unfinished wreck with terrible graphics?
    1. Interceptor: Fun space-sim-lite that kept most of the series' intrinsic mechanics, or a rather terrible attempt to cross genres?
    2. Enforcer: ... Actually, most people agree this one was terrible, though you will occasionally see people mentioning that it's not so bad if you A) forget it's supposed to be part of the X-Com series and B) are in the mood for an arcade-ish shooter.
    • As for the commercial and freeware X-Com clones... bring an asbestos suit.
  • Cult Classic: The original game has always been highly regarded and considered one of the greatest PC games of its era- but it was never suited for everyone, being incredibly complicated and difficult, aimed at hardcore strategy fans. By comparison the reboot series has much more mainstream success due to being intentionally streamlined to be more accessible, albeit still difficult.
  • Demonic Spiders
    • In the early game, candidates abound:
      • Chryssalids. They have as many as 80 or more Action Points/Time Units on the hardest difficulty (able to go from off-screen to melee attacking in one turn), and as little as 60 on the lowest. To move one tile takes 4, or 6 if diagonal. Thus, they can blitz your troops from alleyways and corners. On top of that, if your surprised agents kill the Zombies created by a Chryssalid with reaction fire, out pops a new Chryssalid.... with FULL TIME UNITS and ready to make more Zombies out of your men. Chain reactions of frightened soldiers killing zombies with Reaction Fire before getting zombified by the freshly hatched Chryssalids are the number one cause of Total Party Kills when battling against Snakemen.
      • Ethereals (champions of psi-spamming) deserve special mention as frustrating and unfair enemies.
      • Later in the game, this is reversed and a strong squad is virtually invincible, not in the least because you are the one making with the psi-spamming at that point.
    • Terror From the Deep, however, brings them back in force:
      • Tentaculats take it to a whole new level with their ability to fly when underwater. Combine this with the fact they love to hide in little nooks and crannies (which exist in alien bases for this sole purpose, it seems), one Tentaculat can decimate an ill-prepared attack force single-handedly. One particular problem with these monsters is that they only show up on alien base attacks, which means the first time you go to an alien base, you're in for a surprise. And lest you think that you can ignore the alien base and therefore the tentaculats, leaving a base active will decrease your funding score and increase the chance of nearby countries signing alien pacts. You're screwed either way.
      • Bio-Drones: Don't you just love enemies that upon being shot, immediately spin around and return fire with 100% accuracy?
      • The Lobstermen, who are basically supercharged Mutons with ridiculous resistance to almost all forms of weapons. Only the Drill are guaranteed to kill them fast.
    • Apocalypse is no slouch here, either.
      • Poppers are tiny annoying self-propelled bombs that close the distance to your troops in an unfairly short amount of time. If you're playing in turn-based mode, pray harder for reaction fire as they approach.
      • Psimorphs take forever to find, an eternity to kill and all this while easily wreaking havoc upon the fragile minds of your agents. Oh, and they can also fly.
      • Do you remember the tanks from the previous games? This time the aliens have them. Capturing a live Megaspawn and not losing half your force in the process is quite possibly the single most challenging task in the game.
      • Anthropods and Skeletoids are comparatively benign compared to the above examples, until they start carrying advanced equipment like cloaking fields and Entropy guns around just to make sure that you never catch a break.
      • Last but not least, there are Brainsuckers, coming to turn your agents against you and there's not a bloody thing you can do about it (unless you're playing in real-time mode, in which case they are much less of a threat). Unlike Chryssalids, they can also jump.
  • Game-Breaker: There's a sub-page for this.
  • Good Bad Bugs: Most every release and patch of UFO Defense has introduced or fixed a couple of these. Whether they are to be exploited or patched depends on how Nintendo Hard you want your X-COM experience to be.
    • Sadly, their evil twins are just as commonplace in Terror From The Deep.
    • A fun exploit involves hitting certain sides of the UFO with explosives; due to imperfect wall structure, explosions can "leak" through certain parts of the UFO hull. Roast the aliens in their (UFO) shell... more 
    • Another fun exploit with explosives: you can send Blaster Bombs up into ceilings to force the explosion to the floor above.
    • In the older versions of X-COM, you could throw grenades (and High Explosives) through ceilings. With a little Motion Sensor abuse to spot aliens upstairs, you could clip a grenade or a plastique charge through the ceiling and make the floor lava for them. more 
    • You can stand on a bale of hay to see and shoot through the ceiling at the aliens on the floor above. Especially since that they're usually camping at the top of the stairs to ambush you when you come up.
    • The way mind-control works, you control 4-tile units one tile at a time. Aliens will automatically attack mind-controlled units within their line of sight when they move. So the best way to deal with a Cyberdisc or Sectopod is to mind-control one tile. When it moves, it will attack itself.
      • Another fun thing to do with mind-control is to use it on a zombie, then get that zombie killed. The result is your own pet Chryssalid, without all the effort of continuing mind-control.
    • Because of a misaimed pointer, all terrain in mountain engagements has the blast resistance of a tree stump instead of their original resistance. In short: Everything-Is-Smashable Area. Even the outer UFO walls can be breached with regular explosives! But don't sneeze too hard while still inside the Skyranger...
    • An overflow error in the storage inventory data can cause the otherwise inaccessible Alien Reproduction facilities appear in your storage in the first game.
  • Just One More Level!: As seen in this review, where after experiencing some Hype Aversion the reviewer decided to try the game, got addicted and started looking for alien invasion signs.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Where are the Sectoids?" Depending on where you are in the series, they might be: on Earth and Mars, lurking at the bottom of the ocean in the form of surgically altered genetic throwbacks, working on a doomsday device in outer space while being harangued by Ethereals, trapped in the Alien Dimension awaiting processing into food, on Earth once more and looking very polygonal, sitting in an unemployment centre somewhere in Canberra or Novato, or up to their old tricks once more.
    • The 2012 TBS reboot has Lead Designer Jake Solomon's "That's XCom, baby!" whenever something unfortunate happens.
    • Lately people have taken to comparing Starship Troopers to X-COM to humorous effect.
    • "Everyone get back in the Skyranger. Brazil can fend for itself."
    Penny Arcade forum post attached to THIS.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • Alien death cries. Every one of them means "there's one less thing on the map shooting at me." The death cry for Snakemen is extra wonderful, as it is the dying cry of the Imps from Doom!
    • In the reboot, just wait until you can build the Alloy Cannon. The deep, resonating BOOM is wonderful. And it makes aliens cry with how much damage it can do.
  • Scrappy Level: Just about any terror mission played at night. Extra points if there're Snakemen/Lobstermen, because you know Chryssalids/Biodrones will be joining the party.
  • Sequelitis: After the original, the overall quality of each successive installment of the series was lower than the previous, regardless of their genre, until XCOM: Enemy Unknown averts this and the series reception has been uphill since Enemy Unknown.
  • Sophomore Slump: Hailed as a must-have for its day, UFO Defense is still considered one of the finest games in this (or any) genre. High praise considering that turn-based games of the era are mostly long-forgotten by now; only a tiny number of franchises survived, such as Civilization and Heroes of Might and Magic. Apocalypse was released in 1997 to average reception. 2012's Enemy Unknown was not only hugely-successful, but also brought turn-based games back into the limelight after more than a decade of near-silence.
  • Tainted by the Preview:
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • Both Enforcer and the cancelled FPS reboot have taken a lot of flak for ripping out the original trilogy's turn based strategy roots.
    • With the reboot now regulated into a spinoff (along with fan complaints nullified by Enemy Unknown 2012), fans of THAT game are complaining that it has shifted from an investigative FPS to a Mass Effect-styled 3rd Person Shooter.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: The PSX port of UFO Defense received a "Kids to Adults" rating (ages 6 and up) from the ESRB, even though it kept the opening cinematic featuring Mutons slaughtering humans (and X-Com doing the same back at them) as well as featuring a new Game Over FMV with a world leader having his head bloodily ventilated.