Published on November 13th, 2012 | by Joseph Caballero5
XCOM: Enemy Unknown Review
Developer(s) By: Fireaxis Games
Publisher(s) By: 2K Games
Rated: “M” for Mature
Release Date: October 9th
Platform(s): Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 & PC
Since the release of the first installment, UFO: Enemy Unknown, in 1994, fans have been eager for more of the XCOM experience. Sadly, things didn’t fair out as later installments reared around the meh or ok category. However, things look and are changing now with a promising reboot version coming out in 2013 and this “re-imagined” remake titled, XCOM: Enemy Unknown(XCOM: EU). Developed by Firaxis Games and produced by 2K Games, XCOM: EU was set out to be a high top notch turn-based tactical role-playing strategy video game, and overall it assuredly is. XCOM: EU returns to the roots of the X-COM series and offers both addictiveness gameplay and great replay value.
The game is set in the future where a global alien invasion has begun. In prevention of this threat, the countries group together and create XCOM, “an elite paramilitary organization” who are tasked with defending the world from the alien invaders. That’s the premise, but the story takes things more in depth with what’s going on in the world. You play as the Commander who is tasked at controlling soldiers in turn-based combat missions. During missions however, you’re permitted to manage and function the XCOM project. With the ability to advance the XCOM project, you’re given a lot of content to work with, not only in missions, but prior to missions. It all depends on how you run things, that’s the true outcome of how each of your missions will go. As new technology is made available you’ll be able to construct new facilities to help aid in the advancement your troops and the XCOM project.
In the Geoscape view, which happens prior to or after a mission, you’ll take possession of many important tasks, which help to excel the XCOM project. This Geoscape view consists of several unique possibilities to function like the Mission Control, Situation Room, Research Lab, Engineering Room, Barracks, and the Hangar. Within the Mission Control, a hologram of Earth lets you scan for alien contacts. If any aliens are detected, then a mission will be available and you’ll be able to launch the mission from there. The Situation Room helps you monitor the many nations involved in the XCOM project. As the game progresses the panic gauge will either increase or decrease, essentially if it decreases too much the certain nation will drop from the XCOM project.
In the Research Lab you’ll have the power to assign new research projects to discover new weapons, armor, ships, equipment, facilities, etc. Then once those things are discovered you’ll then have to go to the Engineering Room to actually fabricate the items or equipment researched in the Research Lab. From here you can purchase new weapons, items, and vehicles. In the Barracks you’ll be assigned to develop and advance your soldiers. You can also hire additional troops or adjust your troop’s weapons, skins, equipment, etc. There’s also the neat feature of the memorial where you can see the KIA troops from previous missions. Lastly, the Hangar allows you to manage space crafts and where to assign them around the world. The game is filled with much to do, and you’ll find yourself hooked to the game trying to manage the XCOM project perfectly.
A key term to describe XCOM: EU is exponential. The game is intensely fun and creative that it will take much strategic planning to assure a safe mission. Although your primary objects will roughly range within a few different options there is a lot of diversity in XCOM. From the amount of freedom you are given, you’ll get lost in all the tasks that can be done. When engaged in a mission however, things get a less mixture. Each mission will take you to different locations like the streets, woods, a spaceship crashing site, labs, etc. and even at times when you’re in a same location like the cities you’ll still find that there’s a diverse set of cover. Sounds good, but overall each location is similar in models and design. Things may look moved, but the place is generally the same.
The game really puts weight into your hands but remains fun, strategic, and utterly addicting. The controller won’t go down, till you’ve left the game at good standing, but even when you reach a certain objective you’ll find yourself playing more just to level up a certain troop or to purchase that new armor just researched. XCOM: EU deserves much attention, because this game is filled essentially with so much content. Sadly a major concern is that even on the easiest difficulty you’ll find the game tough. There are several points where the game rushes things too fast giving you nearly impossible missions, which lead to the destruction of your squad and raise of the panic gauge. This again was at the easiest difficulty, it have liked to see a more progressive feel when mission are made available instead of always turning them down because you are not ready for them.
Visually, the game is great. Environments vary in items and directions, locations are wide in surroundings, and the overall experience is nearly pitched perfect. Occasional hiccups however are persistent within the game. Some awkward glitches and texture pop ins are bluntly within the game, but nothing dramatic or experience changing. Several models also lack from variety, for example the character models. They’re good but roughly are plain in design. Most models are crudely the same throughout the game. It seems that visuals lack the variety the game offers. Locations are nice and big, but barrels, cars, trucks, and etc. look exactly the same within other missions. This again doesn’t rough the experience much, but it would have been nice to see the same level of variation within the missions also within the design of the levels.
XCOM: EU does offer a multiplayer option, and it’s definitely a highlight of the game. You’ll take a squad and eliminate the opponent or be eliminated. Multiplayer puts you with another opponent where you’ll have the ability to customize your squad with either alien troops or human troops. You can choose between weapons, troops, equipment and etc. but all must be done strategically as you’re set a limit to how much points you can use. Each item, troop, or equipment is worth a certain set of points. Playing online offers more variety in challenges as you’ll never truly expect what’s coming.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a worthy purchase. The game is addicting and filled with a ton of content. Although the visuals are a little on the blend side, the combat and gameplay is something to look forward too. This is a superior XCOM, and it will bring great nostalgic to those who played the original, if you haven’t then it will also be a great introduction to the world of XCOM. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is fun and definitely deserves a playthrough to anyone who enjoys strategy games or to those who just wish to shoot some aliens.
Summary: XCOM: Enemy Unknown offers a great strategic experience filled with lots of content, while providing a fresh multiplayer. XCOM: EU can be difficult instead of challenging, and suffers from bland models and repetitive objectives.