Xenonauts:  Jean Moreau, I will watch you die slowly you craven bitch.

So aliens are invading Earth and it's up to me, my scientists, engineers, and elite group of door kicking badasses to turn the tide.  Our first mission runs as well as you could expect in a first encounter.  Aside from one person freaking out from blood loss, running away, and finally bleeding to death in a barn; we managed to murder all xeno scum from the farmland and take the corpses back to base as trophies.  The rest of my squad performed admirably and I just viewed the freakout as some freak occurrence that wouldn't deter the efforts of our team to save the human race.  We must purge the squads weakness.  It looks like we have a real shot putting a dent in the invasion.  Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death.  Let's go save the human race, fuckers.  We set up some research and start to track down signals in the sky.  An alert goes out and Russian reports a wreck in the middle of their country.  Charlie-1 is sent to investigate.  


Cpl. Katrina thinks she has a chance against these three xenos with a shotgun.  Cpl. Katrina is also stupid.

The reptilian aliens are spread out on the map and we murder a single wandering xeno pretty quickly.  What should be a simple mission turns to shit as soon as Jean Moreau, our entry specialist, gets shot point blank after turning a corner blind running directly into one of the aliens.  The team finishes the reptile off and scout further while he starts to bleed out.  Panic sets in.  Jean bolts next turn to hide in the transport while leaving path open and getting a rookie private killed immediately by plasma fire.  We finish the mission, but the sting of the soldier's loss is angering.  Moreau has just now earned the wrath of the commander.  Since there is no prison rape or public flogging mechanics, I am now content with Mr. Moreau becoming the best room clearing bullet sponge he is destined to be.  Fuck you, Jean Moreau.

"Back in our day, we killed Xenos with pool noodles and anger.  Cry more about your budget, pussy."

The core gameplay from X:Com was a blend of base management, research, and turn-based ground tactics.  You're on a timer where random events start taking place, giving you the opportunity to take tech from alien corpses for research,  keep the countries across the world happy to maintain funding, or get you team hilariously murdered by an overpowered alien threat.  Once you got a feel for the UI and though you could skim through a couple of mission, they throw an even more dangerous enemy your way.  If you didn't balance research and defense, you can start to piss off the rest of the nations, and start to get funding pulled getting even less resources to fight the invasion.  It was tough.  Really tough.

With the recent Enemy Unknown remake, it took the same formula and put it in 3D.  Your soldiers have the build of football players and their weaponry looks like it's from a comic book.  The tone is unmistakably sci-fi and is honestly a good game.  Xenonauts chose instead to remain more faithful to the original.  Set in 1979, your troops start laughably under equipped.  The tone feels more desperate and unforgiving.  Instead of sci-fi backdrops, you get cleaner artwork that makes it seem more of an NASA launch than a super soldier narrative.  I feel like a goddamn commander.

This smug asshole takes a week to research the conclusion, "Aliens are bad."  What a dick.

There are other gameplay differences.  Xenonauts has more soldiers that can deploy and you can equip them however you want.  Maps are much larger and aliens are don't “activate” once you see them on the map.  They constantly roam it making you paranoid of running blind.  Aerial combat also gets a lift where flanking and adjusting speed can play a big factor.  

The core gameplay is tried and true.  It took long enough with Fireaxis to get a remake out, and they did a good job making it solid.  If someone asked if they should pick up Enemy Unknown having never played any X:Com games, it would be a good choice.  If someone asked if they wanted something better or more authentic to the original, I would tell them to pick up Xenonauts.