Ever played X-Com? It’s a pretty classic series, hailing from the early 90s, that puts the player in the boots of the “Commander” of an anti-alien task force, tasked with countering an alien threat to life on Earth.
The original trilogy is well-known among PC aficionados as one of the golden series of the early 90s, offering steep, punishing gameplay, plenty of challenge, a brutal-but-rewarding sense of success as you learned to carefully juggle research, politics, and—most importantly of all—your soldiers to beat back the alien threat. Later sequels continued the trend of working with highly interconnected systems that gave players a vast array of freedom (though not success) to work with to counter the alien threat.
Of course, this series is now over two decades old, making replaying some of these older titles more than a bit difficult (not that it was ever easy in the first place). Thankfully, sometimes good things do get to come around again, and in our modern day and age, the series has been rebooted with X-Com: Enemy Unknown, and then the more simply named X-Com 2.
Like all good sequels, X-Com 2 built on the foundation before it, including one of X-Com‘s most popular ones: the ability to create and customize the soldiers under your command, right down to their names, looks, and their biography.
In other words, a determined player could create themselves and their friends in a game, then send them out against the alien threat to see how things shake out. Or create very creative likenesses of favorite characters from other sources.
X-Com 2 seized on this popularity both by giving players more customization options than ever (except when it came to faces, sadly), and by making incredibly easy to import and export character files. Meaning that anyone can invest a bit of time into the character creator and not only enjoy watching friends, family, or heroes try to save the earth in their game, but can share them with others as well so that those they know can do the same.
Right, that’s the background. Mostly for those of you who don’t play X-Com and would otherwise have no idea what this post was referring to.
You can create replications of anyone. Including characters from books. See where this is going, yet?
Yeah. Within hours of acquiring X-Com 2 for myself a few months ago, I’d spent less than three hours playing the game, and more than five hours sitting down and recreating a bunch of characters from my books and work in X-Com‘s character creator.
I’m pretty happy with the results. They’re not perfect, but I’m entirely accepting of that since I get to watch Colony‘s Anna tear through the Advent like there’s no tomorrow.
And you know what? You should be able to too.
Unfortunately, I’m still trying to figure out a way to host the Character Pools so that anyone who’s curious can download and import them (WordPress won’t let me do it without some technical trickery might not even work, and even then would have to be undone by anyone who downloaded said packs), so they’re not available just yet, but I figured I’d give you all a quick look at what you can expect when you add said packs to the game. So far I’ve got two ready for deployment, one for Colony and one for the Unusual Universe (One Drink, etc). I just need to figure out hosting, like I said. I may end up working them through the Steam Workshop. Anyway, let’s give you that look I promised. Some of it may not make sense if you’re not acquainted with X-Com, but a look at a visual rep of some favorite characters can still be fun, right?
And, for legalese, I don’t own X-Com or claim any of the rights to it. Duh.
The Unusual Universe
Right now, this pack just has the two characters to show, each taken from their respective featured titles. The first is, of course, Jacob Rocke (who debuted in One Drink), who seems to be giving his weapon the same cursory look he gives everything else. Class-wise, he’s a Psi-Operative, because that’s about as close as X-Com gets to magic. He’s a bit of a no-frills character, but then again, that’s Rocke to a T. Give him an assignment, point him in the right direction, and he’ll go get stuff done. As far as characters go, Rocke’s basic aesthetic comes across pretty well.
Meanwhile, Hawke Decroux, the second of the Unusuals pack (and hailing from Dead Silver), is far more laid back. I was actually pretty impressed with X-Com 2‘s ability to pull Hawke off. Not only did he end up looking almost as I had pictured him (minus the height), but the personality setting captured his easygoing nature perfectly.
Again, Hawke is a Psi-Operative, which fits closest with his real shamanistic talent. All in all I’m pretty happy with how he came out here. I was lucky enough to get him in my first game, and he was a real joy to have in my squad.
Oh, and his custom laser rifle was named “Pew-Pew-Pew.”
Colony‘s pack is, of course, home to the three primary characters, starting with Corporate Investigator Jake Tames. If you’ve not read Colony yet (and if so, what are you waiting for!?), it might seem strange that a corporate investigator would even know what a firearm is, let alone carry one, but Jake has more than a passing familiarity with them, and by necessity. There’s a reason he’s holding a sniper rifle.
Guns aside, the coloration of his gear matches the dive-armor Jake wore through Colony, and once again I think the personality setting matches up with the character pretty well. The only thing I’m not entirely sold on is the face … but then that’s a reoccuring trend in X-Com 2. There just aren’t many faces, and most of them don’t look that great. So you have to make do. Even so, Jake’s nose is nowhere near that large in my mind. And again, there’s not really a setting for height. So he’s taller in game than he is in Colony.
Second in the Colony pack is the South-American, gun-for-hire mercenary Annalyne Neres. Or Anna, as she’s more commonly known. Thanks to voice packs, if you’re fielding her you’re going to hear a lot of angry Spanish, something that plays pretty accurately to her character. Making her a Grenadier gives her the heavy ordinance she’s so fond of, though if you’re the type to grab mods, you can also have her take to the field with an SMG that’s closer to her iconic FOX-9 bullpup SMGs. The mottled grey of her armor, again, mirrors the description of her Neural Armor in Colony.
Height is a bit of an issue once more, and X-Com‘s limited facial selection also rears its head. But overall … It’s Anna! Dangerous, aggressive, and ready to lay waste.
Of course, no Colony pack would be complete without the Southern-botn Ray “Sweets” Candy, white-hat hacker extraordinaire. Granted, he looks a little nervous at being handed a gun, but we can hardly blame the guy. After all, he’d rather be at a computer somewhere finding weak points in a network than on the front lines with bullets whizzing by.
Still, nervous or not, Sweets isn’t one to back down.He’ll bring his hacking expertise wherever you need it, even if he isn’t keen on being shot at.
Again, his armor coloration matches the dive armor used in Colony, and overall he came out fairly close to what I envisioned while I was writing the book. Okay, maybe he’s a bit more ripped here, but he’s still fairly close. He’s a Specialist because, well, they’re the game’s designated hackers. What else would he be?
Anyway, that’s a quick preview of what you can expect when I find a place to host these files. I’ll throw the links up on the Book pages, beneath their respective titles, but I’ll make a post for it as well. If you’re a player of X-Com 2, you’ll be able to import them into your game and go wild.
Just, you know, try not to get them killed when you do.