Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Video Game Review: XCOM Enemy Unknown

XCOM Enemy Unknown is a turn based strategy game available for PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Not a lot of games of this kind of genre out there nowadays. If you've ever played Final Fantasy Tactics, it's something like that. But instead of spending four rounds walking a maximum of two blocks per round just trying to get to your enemy so you can hack them up with your whack ass swords.

Taking place in a near future as an alien invasion begins, the world's nations group together to create the XCOM (Extraterrestrial Combat Unit) project which is tasked with protecting earth from the imminent alien invasion. You play as the commander who commands a squadron of up to six soldiers who vary between skills and classes.

XCOM Enemy Unknown is something of a reimagined remake of the original XCOM games, which were initially released in the early to mid 90s. These games were hailed as masterpieces, so it's only assumed that when somebody wants to remake a game that's being called a "masterpiece", well, you'd better not muck it up.

On the upside, XCOM Enemy Unknown is nothing short of fantastic.

How fantastic? Well it's my favourite game of 2012 (and 2013, so far) and I'm not even a big fan of turn based strategy games. How can a video game make me a fan if I dislike its genre? Well let's find out.

What I did like.

I enjoyed the level of difficulty in this game. It was made in such a way that being gung-ho is a bad idea. But I suppose that's why it's a strategy game. On top of that, you're never really stuck with six set characters, your squad consists of recruits that you must hire.

A squad of six

Each recruit starts as a rookie, but as they level up, they're assigned one of four classes.

Each class has their advantages and disadvantages, but to really make a great squadron, you'll definitely have to mix it up. Because I mean, if you have a team of six heavies, it doesn't really help out since they're not too accurate at long or close range. And if enough enemies converge on you, then you're kinda boned.

As mentioned before, this game is turn based strategy where each move has to be carefully laid out. Every turn I made was made with extreme caution, because you never know what's hiding behind the fog.

Bomb disposal battle type

Even if you were to lose, it sucks because you lose all the squad mates that you had brought along (when they die, they stay dead), you still feel the need to keep going. Sure you might rage quit, which I did on numerous occasions (and when I do, I won't play a game for months at a time), you'd come back, because nothing is ever hopeless in this game and everything is entirely doable. Granted you will have to make some decisions that may not be for the best, but you can't win 'em all right?

Soldier memorial

Even though XCOM didn't really have a story line, I still liked it. It's straight forward. It's "Hey aliens are here, you're now an anti alien army, go fight them and learn from what you salvage after battles so that you can become stronger, so you can take down the mothership".

That's it.

No disappointing plot twists or surprise endings. A lot of games try that nowadays, but they almost try too hard. And the result is a silly story.

But what I did enjoy the most out of it was, it's a good time killer. Got an hour to spare before you gotta do something important? Play some XCOM, before you know it. You're ready to leave. Or your late.

What I didn't like.

Only two things really bugged me about this game.

One being, the money management system. The game runs on something of a date system, and at the end of every month, you're granted some funding from nations that are all aboard on your XCOM project. You get this money and you gotta spend it wisely.

Do I purchase new gear for my soldiers? Should I get more ships to defend continents? Should I start up another satellite uplink so that I can deploy satellites over nations?

The list is never ending.

And on more than one occasion, I always feel like I've made a bad choice.

Example: I'll buy a satellite for a nation, because if there isn't a satellite monitoring the skies of a nation, the panic levels increase across that nation. If the nation reaches full chaos, they will back out of the XCOM project and you will lose certain perks that come along with that nation.

That being said, satellites sound like a sound choice right? Usually they are. But then all of a sudden you're next invasion consists of some baddies you've never seen before and they just absolutely demolish your team because you're under equipped.

So that's my problem. Every decision has its pros and cons. But that's just the nature of the game. It's like real life. Except not really.

XCOM Situation Room

The other thing that annoyed me was that even though your attacks were based on your character's aim and accuracy, even with a high accuracy percentage and some decent aim, it still all feels like it's left up to chance.

I can be two square tiles away from a bad guy, and still miss.

It's moments like that where I wanna shake the plasma outta my monitor. But as I said, maybe that's just the nature of the game.

If you wanna change it up, definitely try out XCOM Enemy Unknown. I'm not a big fan of strategy games and if it can make me a huge fan out of it, then it's definitely worth something to check out. And besides, it's available for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, so you really don't have any excuses.

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