The game is set in the year 2067, where the Earth's resources are all nearly depleted. To avert the slow decay of civilization, the major corporations of Earth turn to the stars - an area of space known as "The Frontier" - to find the raw materials they so desperately need.
Unfortunately, some old "friends" were already in the neighborhood when the corporations arrived... the powers from the "first alien war" 1999, - and they have plans of their own for the resources of the Frontier. Plans that could very well mean the end of the human race.
In X-COM Interceptor, the player takes command of an elite force that has been created to fight the aliens in space. Unlike previous games in the series, the game is primarily a space combat simulator, with the player flying starfighters to protect the human corporations set up to gather resources in the Frontier. The player also acts in the role of X-COM commander in the region, managing bases, resources, and the organisation's financial standing. The player also needs to capture and research alien technology in order to improve human technology and discover the reason for the aliens' interest in the region.
X-Com Interceptor, although released as the fourth game, was actually set before X-COM: Apocalypse, thus making it the third game in the chronological order.
X-Com Interceptor is a combination of many genres, including space flight simulation, business simulation game and strategy game elements. More specifically, the player's role includes managing a number of X-COM space stations, piloting starfighters during hostile encounters whilst co-ordinating wingmen, and managing resources and research.
Gameplay begins on March 1, 2067. The main screen differs from previous incarnations of the series. The majority of the panel is taken up by a view of the planetary systems in The Frontier, represented as stars. However, the player can zoom into the stars to see all planets and bases located in those systems. Ship squadrons and anomalous events are also shown in this display. Located elsewhere on the main screen are links to all the various base and resource management screens.
Early missions involve the detection and interception of an enemy squadron of fighters. The player responds to this, and upon the X-Com squadron intercepting the enemy craft, the game switches to the flight simulation. In this mode, the player pilots a craft along with the wingmen previously assigned to the mission, in a similar style to Wing Commander: Prophecy, with the goals of destroying or disabling the enemy ships. There are various mission types in the game, including disabling/destroying enemy craft, capturing certain special craft, interrupting alien trade routes, escorting convoys, and base raiding missions.
The player collects points for every mission, adding to the total campaign score. Every week a short report is presented, with status, recommendations or news. News include political instability and construction of Mega-Primus from X-COM: Apocalypse and the plot of X-COM: Alliance about the missing "GSC Patton".
The end game is signified by the discovery of alien plans to build a doomsday device to destroy the surface of earth. This device was some kind of energy weapon, larger than a space station. As the weapon itself was impossible to destroy by conventional means, the research and creation of the "Nova Bomb" was required. This was a large missile, which instead of destroying the target directly, was aimed at the central star to a system. Upon impact, it would cause the star to explode, destroying everything in the system - thus the missile's name "Nova".
The final mission is two-staged. The first stage involved entering a black hole inside a carrier (the UGS Macarthur) equipped with a special device, allowing you to enter an alternate dimension where this weapon was stored. It involved destroying the defence craft at the black hole, whilst protecting the UGS Macarthur. If successful, the UGS Macarthur enters the black hole to enter the alternate dimension. The second part of the mission involves launching the Nova Bomb at the star of the system inside the black hole. As the missile could be destroyed for up to 1 minute after launch (after which it entered hyperspace), it required protection from assault by enemy craft. From this mission, three possible end-game sequences were possible:
- Mission failed - If at any point the craft you were piloting was destroyed or disabled, or if the Macarthur was destroyed in the first part, or if the Nova Bomb was destroyed in the second part. This resulted in an end sequence where the aliens moved the Doomsday device to the Earth, and destroyed it.
- Mission successful, Macarthur destroyed - If the Macarthur was destroyed during the second part of the mission, the player became trapped and could not travel back through the black hole. The mission was a success, but all craft were lost. The resulted in an end sequence detailing a memorial service for all those lost.
- Mission successful outright - If the player succeeded in entering the black hole, launching the Nova Bomb, and returning to the Macarthur before the Nova Bomb reached its destination. This resulted in an end sequence of the Macarthur returning to one of the X-COM bases with craft doing tricks around it, and fireworks being launched.
X-COM: Interceptor was the first X-COM game to include a fully functional multiplayer portion of the game.
Many believe this game to be the weakest in the X-COM series. Some of the things that were criticized was the campy tone, and the out-of-place pop cultural references. Some of the references that were made throughout the game were from Star Trek, Star Wars, E.T., Red Dwarf, South Park, The X-Files, Beavis and Butt-Head, The Wizard of Oz, Austin Powers, Homeward Bound, Starship Troopers, and Alien.
Many fans feel this game was the start of the self-destruction of the franchise. The reason for this is because the game sold poorly; about 30,000 copies were sold. Another reason is that the makers were forced to give up the X-COM license to Microprose.
Glitches and known bugs
On Windows XP and Vista alien probes and pirate bases are invisible during single-player missions. The probe always appears at the lower right hand of the screen regardless of where the player moves his or her ship. The only known way to play this game without this bug on windows XP or vista is indirectly by installing a virtual PC system and to load windows 98 on the virtual PC. Though virtual PC software is available free from Microsoft, the windows 98 booting files are harder to come by. ISO image, IMG (file format) files, or some equivalent of windows 98 boot disks and/or floppies are available in the darker corners of the internet and can be used to install windows 98 on the virtual PC if physical copies are not available. The virtual PC 2007 software comes with the ability to read .IMG files. Once windows 98 is running, X-com interceptor can be installed on the virtual PC and played bug free. This method can be time consuming to initiate but is quickly used once everything is set up, is free, and is very effective.
Another was that extended periods of gameplay mostly during loading and researching in both Hardware and Software Graphic Adapter modes the game would crash displaying "Unhandled Exception" even the 1.2 patch could not fix this. As of March 2010 there is no fix for this.
- UFOPaedia: An extensive wiki containing information, analysis, strategy, and other resources for the X-COM series of games. Updated often. Need more authors contributing to it.
- 'X-COM: Interceptor' at MobyGames