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S&S Review: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Title: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Format: PS3(reviewed), Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Firaxis 
Price: $59.99
ESRB Rating: M

XCOM has a pretty awarded background, but seeing how I've never played the original games, I went into Enemy Unknown completely unaware of why the series was so great.  Its safe to say that with my extensive time I had with the game, it looks like XCOM is getting a new lifelong fan.
Presentation and Story: The story of XCOM centers around a global organization that surveys and combats any aliens threatening the planet. This is the real extent of the game's narrative, rather than focusing their time on storytelling, the developers focused more on making the gameplay as good as possible. Before you get on the ground, you're greeted with a multi-tiered base layout, similar to an ant farm. The layout looks good, you can see scientists and engineer in the R&D departments, and you'll see your soldiers in the barracks. There are a lot more cool nuances about revolving around your base that really makes you feel like you're apart of something bigger. On the actual battlefield, the game features an isometric camera which you can rotate to a specific degree. The camera really gives you enough to strategize and go about completing your objective the best way possible. There are a number of diverse locales you'll be battling in, with tons of destructible environments at your mercy. Character models are a bit of a mixed bag, your soldiers look solid, but some of the aliens and NPCs don't stack up well. There isn't a ton of voice acting in the game, seeing how cutscenes are pretty rare, but nevertheless, the voice work is convincing and believable. The music is your standard fare of sci-fi goodness, but other than that, don't expect a glorious orchestral score behind it.
Core Gameplay and Multiplayer:If you're looking for a deep game to delve into, Enemy Unknown is the perfect game for you.  There aren't a lot of great isometric turn-based games out there, besides Valkyria Chronicles, and its nice to see it done better in EU.  Positioning your characters behind cover and methodically taking out each alien is the name of the game.  This has to be one of the more challenging games out there, even on the normal difficulty, you can expect casualties.  A number of different enemy types offer up an endless amount of challenge, requiring a bit of thought from your part.  Diverse mission structures tasks you with different objectives, some require you to save as many hostages as possible, or you have to disarm a number of bombs.  When you're not on the front lines, many hours will be spent managing your base of operations.  Engineering, researching, soldier recruitment, and meeting with the council are just a few things you'll be doing in between missions.  Currency earned from missions and aliens captured during missions will be used to award you with certain objects as well, alien technology and weaponry being the obvious standouts.  Customizing and naming soliders offers up a lot of RPG elements that make the game even deeper.  Spending a lot of time developing one soldiers skills and then having him or her taken from you tragically during battle happens all too much.  If you screw up too much, you can actually lose the game, which adds a lot of tension to the game.  If you're looking for a change of pace, the game features an excellent 1v1 multiplayer mode.  Playing as an alien is a cool change as well.  
Final Thoughts:
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a great game, with a lot of deep gameplay to get into.  Even if you haven't played the original games, any tactical fan should definitely get their hands on this great title.
S&S Rating: 9/10

2 comments: Leave Your Comments

  1. Matt Stone10/09/2012

    Solid review, just picked it up

  2. Staff_Writer_SamK10/09/2012

    Thanks Matt