tips, try and get beam weapons quickly, and carapace armor. After you get those don't worry about your soldiers weapons and armor for a bit and do some research into tech for your interceptors. If you focus too much on your troops or too much on your interceptors you will find it hard to progress. For example, my first attempt I went straight for plasma weapons and titan armor, however large UFO's started showing up and they would shoot down my interceptors every time cause I hadn't upgraded them at all.
I played the old games, I wasn't the best at them, but I had a LOT of fun with them, and I'm having a lot of fun with this one.
Normal seems to be kicking my butt too, though. Any tips? =\
if ur playin Ironman, you will lose a LOT of soldiers. you may want to commit early on researching and manufacturing a SHIV. With harder games i notice they come in VERY useful. if im just playing normal and can save frequently, i dont sacrifice the time/work for the SHIV. This is because when the game progresses, the perks and psionics make the soldiers much more useful. hope this helps.