XCOM: Enemy Unknown Review

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468px-Xcom_enemy_logoDeveloper: Firaxis
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: October 9 of 2012

With the recent release of the Bureau: XCOM Declassified and the release of XCOM: Enemy Within add-on, decided to review the remake of the 1994 cult game XCOM: Enemy Unknown that was released last year on consoles, Windows PC and even the IPad this year. We talk about XCOM: Enemy Unknown, attracting not only fans of the classic but also introduces a new generation to the lore of this amazing strategy game.

Story
In the near future planet earth is invaded, without knowing the source of the alien threat or his motives for invading the planet, nations formed the XCOM (short for Extraterrestrial Combat Unit). With all odds against humanity, Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum are nowhere to be seen, only the brave soldiers of the XCOM unit are what stands between freedom and total annihilation.

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Gameplay
This is a turn-based tactical role-playing game, as in most games of the genre you start with a set of units and can hire and train more. There is a good variety of missions, a breakdown:

  • -UFO crashes or landings, crashes occur when you take down an alien ship with an interceptor, these missions are good to promote recruits and to recover materials for research.

    -Rescuing and extracting a VIP from the government and keeping him alive until the end of the mission.

    -Terror missions, usually hard missions in which you have to rescue survivors before the alien forces get to them, if most die you can still win, but this
    will affect the rating of the mission.

    -Alien abductions, you will have to pick one out of three options here as abductions around the world happen at the same time, so choose wisely.

I like the progressive skill system, gives you a good amount of options to make soldier abilities more unique. Among the classes we have Heavy, do they like Sandvich? Support, Sniper and the MEDIC..! I mean the Support class, last Team Fortress 2 reference i promise.

As you progress through the game, you will be researching alien technology to give your troops psionic abilities, new weaponry or combat ships. Not all of your units will be able to develop these psionic skills, depends on his will and the number of times you have been injured. Having soldiers with psionic powers is a must have as challenges escalates rather quickly in the final stages.

Controls feels great by using the Dual Shock 3, here i have to add i also played the game on the PC and may be biased but by using control pad over mouse and keyboard saves time, using a mouse you have to confirm every single action, making the game slower and ending in larger gaming sessions, picking where to move your units by using a control pad seems to flow betetr but this is a matter of personal choices.

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About DLC
There are two DLC packs for the game, Slingshot and Elite Soldier. Slingshot adds three new missions to the regular campaign but can’t say is as good as i hoped for, is way too short, only pros are a very good heavy unit and of course couple extra achievements/trophies. Not really worth 6.99 if you ask me, if there’s a sale, sure… go for it.

Elite Soldier is simple, it adds extra customization options to the game, such as caps, helmets (Halo 3 dejavu anyone?) and suits for your units, although i enjoyed to be able to change helmets and suits i think this had to be in the game right from the beginning. Features like this should not be sold separately.

Audio
Overall audio is good but i find some issues with it, while guns and alien screams are loud, the sounds of your unit seems to be lower, making you volume up which ends in annoyance as guns and aliens are louder. Not a big deal but yeah, i’m picky sometimes… Other than that omg the music is awesome!

Graphics
I have heard people complain about the lack of textures in the armors and equipment but honestly most of the time you don’t notice such things, except when you edit your units or when there is a close up in the middle of battle, honestly they look just fine!
True, some cutscenes have aliens that appear in the middle of a wall or your soldier is looking in the opposite direction when he kills an alien from time to time, clipping thru walls or cover is very common (you jelly Billy The Kid?).
Indeed there is room for improvement but overall game looks great and interface is pretty cool!

Engineering
Downsides
Lack of character customization, although you have some choices to mess with the race color, hair, etc.. it’s just not enough, sometimes you want to make a soldier to look like a character from tv or a friend, with the limited options this is not possible.

You can’t pick the class for new recruits, and you can’t choose your own class. When a recruit is promoted it is assigned a random class, you can’t choose your own, this would help to create better soldiers for your deployment squads.

It is unfair as enemies can shoot or kill because sometimes their shots go through walls and objects, sounds like a bug to me, still shouldn’t be there, there is no reason for this to happen, can be truly frustrating.

OMG the annoying cutscene of the dropship returning to base after a mission, why can’t we skip it? We can skip when the ship takes off and other cutscenes.. So why we are forced to watch the ship return to base all the time, it makes no sense.

Certain camera angles can be annoying, in specific when there is a close up and you shot an enemy, all you see is the wall you used for cover. Freezing FMV cutscenes after a mission or in the middle of a stage, this is not right, this should have been patched long ago. There is not a single valid reason for this to happen, specially in a game like this, if you missed the opportunity to save… it can ruin a very good run, especially when you go for Ironman mode. In a game of this genre, that’s TONS of wasted time…!

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Overall
For fans of the genre and the classic XCOM this remake is absolutely fantastic and a must play! Sure thing, the game is not perfect and has technical issues here and there but nothing game breaking, if you like turn-based tactical role-playing games, I have not enough words to praise this game.

Does the game live up to the expectations? Probably not, remakes never do, it’s hard to please everyone. The game has a lot of problems that should not be there, with that said this release is extremely fun and addictive you can overlook and ignore them all. You have to recognize the game has merits of its own and is without a doubt a great and welcomed addition to your gaming library.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is available for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Windows PC (Mac i think, but who plays on a Mac anyway?) and even on the Ipad! So whatever is your cup of tea, definitely one you cannot miss. IF like me you had the chance to grab this for free via PSN Plus, you got lucky, fantastic game!

definitely a 9 out of 10!