Review: The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC)

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Publisher: 2K Games
Platform: PS3,XBOX360 and PC
Release date: August 20th, 2013 (US)/ August 23th, 2013 (EU)

*review copy provided by 2K Games .Tested on PC.

2K Games are making a lot of effort to bring back the X-COM franchise to its glory days. It started with Enemy Unknown, a re-imagined version of the original from 1994, continued with the expansion to the mobile market, and now with the recent release of a new entry – The Bureau. A game that isn’t afraid to mix both action and strategy elements and create a unique experience suitable to newcomers and fans alike.
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified puts you in the shoes of a CIA agent named William Carter. One day Carter is being asked to deliver a briefcase to the agency, without knowing that it contains an alien device. Seconds after the briefcase was opened, aliens started to infiltrate earth, destroying everything in their sight. Your mission is to defend earth and find the motives behind the alien’s actions.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

Sadly, as much as I wanted to enjoy the story, I was left more confused than entertained mainly because the game constantly drops new information at the player. Sometimes it’s just too much to handle, and in some cases they contradict themselves. For instance, when I just started the game I was informed that humans can’t use alien equipment, yet everyone around me had a special device tied to their hands.
Of course than there are great moments to the story and there is a huge twist that’s going to blow your mind, but overall Erik Caponi (the writer) could have done much better especially if you take into consideration that he was behind games like Fallout 3 and Kingdoms of Amalur.
The reason you’ll be hooked to The Bureau lies beneath its gameplay mechanics. Instead of doing copy-paste from games such as COD, Battle Field and Medal of Honor, 2K decided to try something different with this game – a combination of fast paced action with strategic options similar to last year release Enemy Unknown.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

Every time you get into a battle you can either fight the aliens by your own or call your squad and take advantage of the battleground. You can control their movements, their targets and even execute special abilities each one of them has, so basically you are the one in charge of all actions on screen.
As you progress through the game, you will see that sometimes the best way to win a fight is by using team work. For example: you can lift an enemy to the air while other members targeting him, set mines all over the map or split up attack from all fronts. Although most of the strategies are explained before you set foot in the battleground, you can still find creative ways to win the fight.
The main problem I had with those new mechanics is that the game doesn’t push the player to use them. Most battles won’t require you to do anything but shooting, of course it might be easier to go with a plan, but the player is not engaged to do so.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

There are also some RPG elements that were implanted in the game, like squad layout, customizations and a level system. When you create a new member you can choose one of four classes: Commando, Engineer, Recon and support, with each of them has a set of unique skills and abilities. After gaining some XP points and leveling-up, tons of new options will be available for you to use on the field, so you can always experiment new techniques.
As for the technical side, I feel like 2K could have done much more with the game’s performance on PC. I have dealt with occasional frame drops and blend textures through the game and at some point I had to make some changes in the option menu. It didn’t ruin my experience of the game, but I expected a little bit more from a leading developer.

Pros:
+Unique gameplay
+Great combination of action and strategy
+A great twist in the plot

Cons:
-Technical issues
-The story is way too complicated
-Players are not engaged to try every aspect of the game
-Too short considers it’s a single player only experience

Giving the game a 7 out of 10

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