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Old 07-22-2012, 07:18 AM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2010
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A little analysis I made about the setting of "X-Com Apocalypse"

Hello there, posted this on my Facebook ages ago, but none of my friends really play X-Com at all. I figured fellow fans here might appreciate it though. I was thinking about the setting, background story etc of Apocalypse one night after playing it, and well, here are my observations. I will cut out the initial explanation of what X-Com is, since well we all know that here

Anyways, enough resources are gathered eventually and the first dome city, Mega Primus, is built on the ruins of Toronto.

So, that's why humanity is living in a big dome city. Not sure what happened to the rest, I assume they fled off-world to the new colonies on the Moon, Mars and the Frontier.

Now, the interesting thing is that the makers of the game, brothers Julian Gollop and Nick Gollop, put a lot more thought into Apocalypse than most players realise. Upon playing Apocalypse again, I've noticed the depth in there, and well that's what this is about.

Basically, there are now organisations rather than countries that need protecting. If you don't, they become alien infiltrated and you lose whatever it is that organisation does (for example, lose the aircraft maker Superdynamics and you lose the ability to buy new aircraft and their equipment). Eventually the government itself becomes alien controlled and well, you lose.

There are quite a few organisations, ranging from the two political parties, the Extropians and the Technocrats, to service industries like Evonet (who purify the city's waste) corporations like Nutrivend (who provide the city's food) or General Metro (who make road vehicles), and even gangs like Pyske, Osiron and Diablo, and political groups like S.E.L.F and the Mutant Alliance.

Now, in game you don't really notice these different organisations other than the different buildings they own and how that effects you cleansing out the aliens from them. However looking at what the Gollops were hinting at through the 'culture' of Mega Primus is interesting.

So, at the top you have the Government, with two political parties, the Extropians and the Technocrats, who are more or less identical. Then there are Government sanctioned and funded organisations such as X-Com itself and Megapol, the city police force and an arms manufacturer. Then come the massive corporations and service providers, who run everything from water purifers to schools, hospitals, factories, shopping malls and even own the citys residential blocks. Then there are the activists such as S.E.L.F, (the Sentient Engine Liberation Front), and the Mutant Alliance. Not illegal, but as you will notice, forced into the slums outside the walls of Mega Primus. Finally there's the criminal gangs, Pyske, Osiron and Diablo. All pretty much as bad as each other. There's also the Cult of Sirius, a religious cult who worship aliens (as it turns out, all aliens, including the original species from 1999 and their water offspring and the new alien invaders in Apocalypse) as the savior of humanity.

All sounds good and healthy right? A perfect utopia. Well not quite. Obviously gangs have sprouted up since the city was built, and while they live in the slums outside Mega Primus, Megapol either can't or won't deal with them. The Cult of Sirius, who are severe social agitators even in peacetime, are given temples inside the city limits, while legitimate and non-violent activists are cast out to the same slum areas as the worst criminal scum.

A little wonky right?

Well, then lets look at the activists themselves. S.E.L.F, aka the Sentient Engine Liberation Front are a pro-Android political group. Androids were apparently made early in Mega Primus' history, but were banned in 2076. No more could be made, they were forbidden to be kept apart from as pets and slaves in homes and basically treated as animals. If a 'unowned' Android was found in the street, they were 'deactivated', so most Androids fled to the slum areas. S.E.L.F campaigns for equal rights for Androids, since as the name suggests, Androids are sentient life forms.

The second activist group, the Mutant Alliance, is pretty similar, except working for 'Hybrids'. During the invasion in 1999 (the First Alien War, or AW-I) the Sectoids (your basic 'Grey' Alien) had crossbred with unwilling human captives to try and increase their number (since Sectoids are sterile). Basically feeding off the whole alien abduction thing. Anyway so this lead to 'Sectohumes' or as they are more derogatorily known "Hybrids" and "Mutants". Sectohumes are psionic, that is they can read and control minds, the same as pure Sectoids, and of course after the horror of an alien invasion they were a constant reminder. Most early Sectohumes looked almost entirely human, but for whatever reason as they interbred with one another, eventually their alien aspects became more apparently and in 2067 they were officially recognised as 'Sectohume" hybrids when a colony was found living underground in Roswell, New Mexico, when that city was recycled as part of the Mega Primus project. Apparently the first hybrids occured in the 1950s, after the whole Roswell thing (when the 'original' aliens discovered that there was sentient life on Earth). Anyways so they face the same discrimination in Mega Primus as Androids, and the Mutant Alliance seeks to have the Government treat them equally.

So, as you might have seen, this is an allegory for slavery and racism. That's an easy one, but notice more closely. Their activist groups are thrown out of the city and treated worst than a known agitator group, the Cult of Sirius. Given their whole secret aspect, the rituals etc and their favoured position, it could be assumed that the Cult of Sirius are an allegory for the Masons. Then we have Megapol, the police force and small arms manufacturer (usually for the colonies against rioters, pirates etc, another morally grey area) who for whatever reason leave the CoS alone and while they hassle the criminal gangs and (to a less extent) the activists, pretty much refuse to rid the city of crime. Guess it would put them out of a job.

Well, "ahaha" you say, isn't there ordinary everyday crime too? Well, no. Here's why. Lifetree, another one of those megacorps, runs the city schools, libraries etc. They use "Psionic education' that is using psionic devices to teach children by inserting 'knowledge' into their brains directly. Moral hiccup 1 is that they are using psionics, supposedly 'dangerous' hence why hybrids are treated poorly, to teach children, and they get away with it. Talk about hypocrisy. Moral hiccup 2 is that they have a 'moral education' programme, basically brainwashing kids into being good little people, don't break the law, don't criticize the government, androids and sectohumes are bad etc.

So, no crime inside the city, other than gang members who go to the mall to cause trouble.

Speaking of gangs, what is it that these gangs do that makes them, well, gangs? Well as with all gangs it's basically a matter of competition over territory, power and an illegal industry. What illegal good you ask? Well, its an implant called "Psiclone". It has all the hallmarks of your typical hardcore drug. When implanted, it allows the user to experience any situation merely by thinking it. Virtual reality meets hallucinations I suppose. The Government says it has a dangerous effect on the health of the youths who use it, hence it being banned. However here are another 2 moral hiccups. The first is that the Cult of Sirius has it in abundance, for its 'ceremonies'. Don't see Megapol busting down their doors to get it. The second is a little more complex. The original form of entertainment in Mega Primus was the Grav Ball League. It's basically a futuristic form of Quidditch, crossed with a sort of 3 dimensional American Football game. Injuries were common, and so most players replaced their damaged limbs with cybernetic replacements (another moral hypocrisy, given the lack of status of Androids). Eventually some clever soul devised "Sens-o-vision". This is more or less psionic television. As well as the 'oops' of again using psionics when its officially classed as offlimits, it also has exactly the same effect as psiclone. Only difference is you need an expensive set, and of course, the government controls what you "experience".

So, basically, Psiclone is just cheap Sens-o-vision, hence it's banned otherwise they would lose money (as no-one would buy the expensive sets).

An allegory for software piracy, a satirical look at professional sports, and of course the typical brainwashing in schools thing.

And then there's the food situation. On the one hand, Nutrivend, who basically are the only ones who conform to the governments strict food regulations (no doubt drafted by someone who owned a large stake in Nutrivend...). On the other Evonet, who by trade recycle, cleanse and purify city waste and water. Nutrivend is a typical money grabbing food producer, producing 'organic' food in hydroponic farms and charging a bundle for it. However Evonet is even worse. Not only do they refine waste into food (which okay is sensible but kind of gross) but think about it: Where do the dead people go?

Soylent Green anyone?

I could go on, the whole Solmine (who bring in Elerium from the colonies along with Transtellar) vs Energen (fusion power, clean and in theory cheap, but that's until the megacorps run it...), the competition between Cyberweb (who used to make Androids, but now make computer systems) and Nanotech (who along with Sanctuary Clinic, run the entire health system) in medical tech, and of course the whole fact that babies are now born in tanks in Sanctuary Clinic "Procreation Parks", for a heafty fee no doubt, but you get the idea.

More alarmingly is that almost all the hospitals owned by Sanctuary Clinic are "Sanatoriums" , in reality little more than torture chambers and prisons for political and corporate opponents.

By the time you've analyzed each company like that, it almost makes you not want to play X-Com Apocalypse any more. Why? Not because you bored, far from, but because you realise that humanity is worse than the aliens your fighting...

Wouldn't be far off real life, if they invaded right now, would it?

Food for thought. (As long as its not from Evonet...)
SquireJames is offline  
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Old 07-23-2012, 06:08 AM   #2
Join Date: Jan 2011
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It's a terrible world. It looks all nice and shiny and futuristic on the surface, but underneath it all is a rotten system. I guess that makes it all the more intriguing. Come to think of it, after seeing a few other futuristic world series like Blade Runner or the Bubblegum Crisis world, I can see where many of the inspirations were drawn from.

Originally Posted by SquireJames View Post
By the time you've analyzed each company like that, it almost makes you not want to play X-Com Apocalypse any more. Why? Not because you bored, far from, but because you realise that humanity is worse than the aliens your fighting...
It's more a game mechanic peculiarity, but organisations do have a tendency to pay more attention to property damage or injury to their guards than to your effort to protect their brains from the alien menace, nor do they care if any of their civilian residents/employees get killed in the alien/X-Com crossfire. To them, it's all business. The new alien menace is just a minor annoyance for the government and the security forces to worry about.

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Old 07-23-2012, 03:21 PM   #3
Join Date: Mar 2010
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To bad my english isn't that good i could translate everything but as far i understand, very nice done!
But isn't it always like that?
I mean watch the news, or shows, do you realy think they want to help you? all they want are good quotes and many viewers.
Thats just one example.
Or why do you think there is poverty in this world? because of people's egoism!
I love xcom apocalypse, one of the best games of all time.
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