It may seem like it cheats but that isnt the case. Usually its tactics that we dont think of. For example sometimes it seems like they can shoot you without being close enough to see you but really what the computer is doing is walking out far enough to see you. Then they move back and fire at the last position they saw you at
Yeah, I've heard that, but it wasn't what I was talking about. I wouldn't call it clever or a tactic no one's ever thought of because that's all they do. I have yet to turn up a body trying their same tactic with high explosives rockets and grenades. Sure, some little mom n' pop is now gone, but no aliens in the blast. I don't think sectoids can move that fast.
I'm talking about their ability to hit me half a mile a way with autoshot. I think the computer often fudges in their favor. Still, it's Godawful annoying when my captian in power armor gets offed by reaction fire off the ramp of the skyranger and then one of my normally solid guys panics because it was a captain. Goes berserk and kills everyone in the place. If you're lucky you get a fifty fifty shot of surviving with the best armor in the game. Oh, and that's surviving one single hit.
Can you really call it a strategy game when it feels like luck is seventy-five percent of of it? The game seems to screw you over with more bad luck than your own ineptitude at playing the game. I've said it before. It's entirely possible to lose funding nations early in the game just because your bases isn't where the computer decides it wasn't to send its UFOs. Especially true on the harder difficulties (i.e. anything above beginner).
Luck should play a part, but not to the point where the success or failure of your entire save-the-world mission depends on it. Not one terror mission, not a UFO or base raid, your entire game hinges upon the often unfairly fudge luck tables. Like I said though, that's great until it robs you of any sense of accomplishment. There's a reason it hurts when someone says, "You just got lucky."
The game's fun, but it's not without some pretty bad flaws. My main one is that it has branches of totally useless research. Alien autopsies do nothing. Nothing. I don't even think they get you to the final mission. You have to research captured live aliens to get any bonuses. Would it have been so hard for them to reward you with more damage and accuracy when fighting an alien? Maybe psionic boosts against them, or you know defenses? As far as I can tell they're flavor text.
My other slightly lesser complaint is the Darwinist approach. You're going to lose people. Lots and lots and lots. Eventually it comes down to those who survive and those who die in some kind of medieval fielding armies system. I feel less like a crack squad of clandestine commandos and more like some evil overlord sending hoards of minions into a meat grinder. What's it matter? Rookies are cheap.
That's why I'm looking forward to the new X-Com game. You can only field four people to start with. However, each one is more specialized. They have certain skills and abilities. If you lose one, not only does it impact the tactical scenario your in, it impacts the meta game.
Sure, rookies are still cheap to hire, but they don't divulge their specialization until they get their first promotion. That means that if I lose my sniper I can either buy up a a whole bunch and field them until I get a sniper. Not guaranteed and pricey. Or I can take what they give me and have to adopt a new set of doctrines because my party makeup as changed.
I think the new game provides more meta game options as well. Not only do you get promoted troops but you can invest in an Officer's School so that they can take their experience and turn it into universal bonuses for all your troops. At least all the research has a purpose, too. It might not be the research you thought you needed but it will never do nothing.