Sunday, 6 October 2013

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

I have just picked up the other day the Computer Game XCOM Enemy Unknown. This game has been out for some months now and has received glowing reports generally and I'd been looking to pick it up at some point as I was a fan of the original game of the same name and it's subsequent sequels; XCOM: Terror of the Deep and XCOM: Apocalypse.

With the imminent release of the add on to the current game, XCOM: Enemy Within, Steam had an offer on for the main game with 75% off so it was an idea time to get around to picking it up. And I'm glad I did, it's a great update to the original.

They have kept to basic premise of the game, Earth attacked by insidious alien intelligence with an unknown agenda and you play the pert of a multi national elite force known the XCOM project who are there to find out about the aliens and repell their assault on Earth. The basic gameplay revolves around some resource management but this is pretty basic in terms of funding from the various 'council' members and the corpses and materials that you get from missions which are then used to build facilities and equipment and research new technologies, and the aforementioned missions which are the real thrust of the game play, with squads of troops with varying skills which you can enhance as the squad members gain experience.
The Original Version

In many ways, the actual game play and the choices you have through out the game have been simplified and the mechanisms for going through the game are also much simpler from the original but the actual look and feel of the game is much enhanced and slickers (as you would expect) and in fact in many ways positively cinematic with all the battlefield action nicely animated and annotated.

All the elements of the original series are still there with only a couple of additions with the main add being a running 'plot' through the game as you progress picking up on the progress of the war and adding a few specific missions over and above the standard recovery or abduction missions.

The names of the equipment types have been kept; Skyranger transport vehicle and Interceptors and the enemy troop types; Sectoids, Floaters, Mutons etc are all still there too.

A bit of colour is the ability to customise your squad members. 

Although this has no effect on game play you can get some nice looks to your troops with various skins for facial types, nationallity, armour, headgear and so on.

Along with the add of the different troop type development trees which lock in on each trooper once they get passed the rank of Rookie and they can progress as Assault, Support, Sniper and Heavy with a limited choice in skills as they progress on their paticular development tree, you can get a fairly pleasing variety of troops.

Once you have a squad and a mission comes along, you are launched on to the tactical gameplay where the main action of the game is.

In a fair variety of terrain types and looks (I've even had a couple of missions set in Glasgow!) with the addition of lighting varieties the action is interesting and thought provoking being three dimensional.

With a familiar IGOUGO based system with the Overwatch and reaction facilities to interrupt the oppositions movement/action the whole combat sequence can be very entertaining with the required tactics being similar to real squad tactics of move and cover and mutual support.

Rush moves where you run to cover are usually nicely cinematically animated and the score of the action usually adds to the drama too.

All in all the game is as I said, a good update to the original franchise and though there are a few minor quibbles (like where there is a choice in mission, you can only choose one and can't go back to pick up the others like you could in the original, and you've only one base rather than several to manage which I liked in the original) I wholeheartedly recommend the game to anyone interested in this genre, especially when it's available for download at £8.


  1. I only found out about the forthcoming expansion via steam yesterday and it made me very happy. I spent many hours playing the campaign when it first came out on the xbox. It works surprisingly well with a controller, but is probably one of the reasons why it's been simplified a bit from the original.

    1. Your probably right Paul, I hadn't thought about that but it makes sense that it's been set up to suit the different platforms about now. Still a great game with a lot of the original flavour.

  2. The original was awesome!!! I lost years of my life playing enemy unknown. Might have to check this one out. Thanks for posting.


    1. No worries, the original game was ground breaking in it's time, though trying it now it's a bit slow but still a good game.


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