XCOM: Enemy Unknown Reviews
The turn-based retro classic is faithfully reborn, without sacrificing its alien heritage.
Remember, WE will be watching...
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When I saw Sid Meyer's Fireaxis new XCOM project I feared they would have ruined one of the most beautyfull games ever. But Sid's Microprose (long live the Microprose!) made the first one and they know how to preserve its legend.
This remake of UFO:Enemy Unknown is exactly what it seems.. a remake. Well, the game is simplier, with much less managing options (damned consoles!), but the true spirit of the original is intact. And THIS is why XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a great game!
The fights with the aliens are fast, hard, cruel, filled with tension. The AI is quite good and will always try to flank your positions. Well, a bigger squad would have been better, but this means that every soldier count and must be protected. Soldiers now have they weapon class, so you cannot pick a rocket launcher with a medic and fire...well... you cannot pick anything! The soldier's inventory system is completely vanished (too bad!), you cannot exchange or pick up anything from the battlefield and if your medic dies, his extra pack of medikits will be useless (protect the support guys!). Unfortunatly there is no blaster launcher! NOOOO!!! No more guided nuclear warheads flying over the battlefield, too bad! I would have like to use them against those nasty new Sectopods!
Musics are much like the original, they have a sort of fear/tension/mistery tune of the old MIDI files.
Of course graphic is much more advanced with many cutscenes between missions and a true story developing during the game. Unfortunatly this cut the game duration. An old UFO match last much more than a week of night playing.
Well, this game is of course worse than the 1994 UFO, with fewer options and features, but looking at the videogame market today, it is a very good game nevertheless.
Well, the game is fun, it feels like XCOM, it has the same things we have longed for (and by we I take the very pompus attitude to include allt he die-hard fans of UFO and Terror from the Deep - a bit cynicle) in the eans that it is a turn based squad tactic game with some strategy and base building against aliens trying to take over the workd and you have to shot 'em down, scramble troops to search the wreckage. Troops also have to respond to other various threats, abduction, terrorising etc.
So far so good - the graphics is ok, the action camera with small cutscenes that now makes it a more interactive story part is mostly OK. I say mostly because the scenes on teh base is good and carries the story and strenghtens the different characters running around the base a bit. In the tacticle squad scenarios - it is the biggest give away and annoyance ever.
I will tell you a few things why - there is no blind fire - you have to run into enemies to find them and when you find them - cutscene and they dispears and are no longer clustered up for a grenade or RPG etc that you could have wished for tacticly sneaking up on them. Also, when you see the short scene of someone shooting a weapon - it is a critical hit and most often someone dies.
Even more disturbing to me is the camera. I can't for the world understand how they decided to botch it up as they have. The camera is set in 4 angles. You can zoom in and out - but the camera has a preference to zoom in stupidly close to any character all the time automaticly, or as soon as you chose an ability or toggles to a new character - it is not merely centering - it is centering and zooming. Also, the camera is tilting automatcly. You can't chose the tilt, it jumps up and down and scrobbles along with the 3D landscape as you move the camera or try to position your character on a ledge two stories up. The level of height is also botched. It is hard to see which level your on and if you place a character and can't see the place they land, you can have your character taking aplunge down into the fray instead of positioning themselves with a height advantage.
So, the camera and placing is pure crap.
Another thing is that information is hidden. I mean come on? A tacticle game with strategy and all the numbers are hidden? I wan't to see damage potential and range. But nope - sorry.
Too easy, too quick too shallow.
That is the combat, when removing an open inventory, ammunition etc - you have removed the option to pick something up on the battlegrounds. A fallen medic is dire since you can't pick up the medics first aid kit.
Somewhere I read that someone thought that XCOM was a game that was boring and sluggish. I have to say that it isn't sluggish enough, it isn't grognard enough etc. The parts that are missing from the original games have been replaced by flare - and once you played the game once and seen all the flare - the great cutscenes and animations will become tedious and boring, leaving you with a game that lacks the depth.
So, it is fun, it is a turnbased game even though it is more or less only move either a move - shoot next turn.
the aliens are always in the lead since they always know you are there and that no mather what you do (haven't had enough founds to build me a ghost armour yet) even slowly advancing - they still get to jump into positions that are favourable. It feels like they had trouble to recreate the tense and sometimes frantic silence from teh original series where only the centering of the camera told you that there was somethig out there in the fog of war.
Another thing with this game, it made the old CTD problem apparent. It been a while since a game CTD:ed that much as XCOM and it makes me hope that patches will come, but more than that - I wish for it with all the praise it gets - that it will open up for mods so taht the camera can be made better, that the tactics can get better and so many of the small things simply will get better.
As it stands now, it is simplified, it is dumbed down and it feels and look as the multiplatform game it is. The extra work with making the game use keyboard and mouse with a special team seems to have gone out the door. I can't say that I'm impressed with their work - one bit. It does what it should - but nothing more and sometimes really poorly. The view of the baseis skitterish with a camera that isnb't precise but just as jumpy and finicking as the camera in the tactical map. It is hard to see what you should click and not. Usually the small shortcuts do a better job and that rasies the questio: why the big ass overview in cut through if it doesn't add anything?
The rest of the game has some troubles with the 1 out of three to help issues - you will always fail and have to cow-toe your way through the politics and hope to fullfill the sometimes underpaud and really strange requests from countries in order to get more people or resources or simply cash...
One would think that to stop the devestation of the earth - countries would feel a bit more obliged to cash in some more money...
Sum up: good but not enough. It is an XCOM game - but a bleak and watered down version of what used to be. It's the console era of strategy and tactics - not the desktop general or desktop squad leaders version.