Data Canister: Media Distortion
--- Data Canister 1037, X-Com Archives. Lecture Transcript on 'Myths of Heavy Weapons Usage During the War in Popular Media', Clegg Martinez of the Trove Museum (sponsored by Zippi Cola), London branch, 2023.
"I think we all here have played the games, seen the various movies based directly and indirectly on the war and X-Com... I myself am an avid collector, with all five box sets of 'X-Com: Days of Battle'.
"As a fan, I can appreciate the drama of these various entertainment products. As a historian, however, I must question the accuracy of many of these. This goes beyond Sectoids and Ethereals sharing blood colours, however, to something far more intrinsic.
"Let's start with what has become one of the defining weapons of the war, the Auto-Cannon. I think we all remember the sequence from the Anime, 'Tokyo Terror Attack', with the big guy blasting off the autocannon in his personal armour, the little blond guy with his mouth wide open, the Muton Commander?
"A lot of people know, obviously, that the plasma sequence, with its almost gun-like muzzle flashes, is way off the mark. Far fewer stop to consider, hey, here's a beefy looking guy, and he's carrying an Autocannon. An Autocannon.
"What is an Autocannon? It was a modified aircraft weapon, Russian in make, based off the GSh-6-23 gatling gun. The originals weighed in at seventy-six kilos, without ammunition, and were one and a half meters long, roughly. The modified Gearhead version just cut down the barrels and rebuilt the weapon's casing to make it suitable for open use in hazardous environments, leaving the issued units at 68 kilograms of weight.
"Yet, the famed unnamed soldier, wields it like a toy. We see the legend of the 'brute with the autocannon' returning in major films like 'Attack of the Reapers' and 'Fall of Bombay', untill stills from several of these films were being claimed as authentic battle footage.
"The facts, however, are clear. No man could lift an autocannon and expect to fire it. The concussive blast from expanding gases in the 23mm shells alone would have caused serious injury without hearing protection, and the recoil alone would have thrown him on his back. They were only ever deployed with power suits, first seeing usage at the end of 2000 in the hands of Project Gearhead.
"Heavy Cannons, often thought to be more similar to high calibre grenade launchers, are another case of this. They too were generated in Project Gearhead, they made heavy usage of Alien Alloys to keep down the weight, were two meters long, and most incriminatingly, had no conventional stock or handle. They were built for Power Suits, shot off 90mm projectiles, were recorded as being able to partially disable Sectopods, and had an advanced mechanical loading system.
"These were X-Com's response to terror units like Reapers, which could not be brought down without specialized anti-tank weaponry, unsuitable for usage at extremely short ranges.
"Yet, in the recently published tactical shooter, published by Zippi-Media, X-Com World Defence, both of these weapons are portrayed as man portable and inferior in damage capabilities to even light laser weapons.
"Heavy Weapons Platforms, or as they were slangishly referred to, 'H-Whips', are equally poorly treated. Portrayed as something akin to today's AI-independant drone vehicles, the H-Whips used in the war were advanced, yes, but were remote operated vehicles used to carry heavy weapons, ammunition for soldiers, light artillery, guided missile racks and GMGs or grenade machine-guns. The only AI they had was in relation to pathfinding, and often soldiers would operate the H-Whips manually when required.
"They were used on long missions, generally controlled by a team member through the GEOSCAPE style interface, with laser designated targeting of the main weapons. They proved invaluable on all missions, particularly larger ones, including base assaults and terror attacks.
"The popular fallacy that these platforms were somehow independant or replacements for regular infantry makes a mockery of the war effort. It's almost as ridiculous as the proposed Enforcer Project. A legged and humanoid platform, capable of providing the same level of support with higher mobility in difficult terrain and cramped space, was an enormously enticing concept to anyone who'd heard about it. The simple fact of the matter however was that the required technology did not exist at that stage. Some very preliminary work has been done in the area, however, and dividends are expected to be seen within the next fifty years.
"On the whole, we as a society seem to have forgotten the hard and fast facts behind the usage of weapons platforms, the heavy weapons of the war, and, indeed, the reality behind the dramas that we now view on vidscreens and play with in arcades.
"What other ridiculous notions are going to creep into our heads? That the aliens were not bent on our genocidal destruction? That perhaps they might have been our 'friends'?"
--- Archiver's note, 2037: The emergence of the Cult of Sirius in '27, less than five years after Clegg's comments, makes me wonder if we couldn't have done something to prevent the Inquisitor war last year. Could intelligence services have done more? Or were we all blinded during those wild years of governmental collapse and refounding?