XCOM: Enemy Unknown Review
- Posted October 8th, 2012 at 10:21 EDT by Will Robinson
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XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a great game that is a refreshing change of pace from the constant barrage of first-person-shooters and third-person action games that seem to have plagued the industry for the last few years.
- Gameplay is fun and satisfying, great replay value
- Very challenging and unpredictable, never allowing you to become too comfortable
- All decisions made, whether in or out of battle, carry a heavy weight
- Consistent frame-rate drops can hurt the experience
- Lackluster story
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a refreshing change of pace to the genre of turn-based action, strategy games, and it excels on all counts. XCOM: EU is Firaxis Games’ reimagining of the much loved classic X-COM which first debuted in 1993. The series hasn’t been seen since 2001 with the release of X-COM: Enforcer.
In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, you are commander of a world-funded organization, XCOM, that has been formed to protect the world from the invading alien horde. As commander you are responsible for researching the invading threat, developing new ways to combat them, and dispatching a team of soldiers to various parts of the world to prevent human abductions and to maintain the panic levels of the world’s countries. XCOM: EU’s story really does not go beyond this simple plotline. It serves only as a means to give reason to what you are doing.
XCOM’s command base is located in a continent of your choosing and each gives you a unique bonus based on that region’s specialty or resources. At the start of the game, your base is operating at the bare minimum. With funding received from various nations and the successful completion of missions, resources are made available to you, allowing you to further develop and expand your base of operations. The base consists of six viewable locations; research department, engineering department, hangar, barracks, situation room, and mission control.
The research department is, oddly enough, where research is done. Throughout the game you will recruit scientists to improve upon current technologies, examine alien technologies, and examine the aliens themselves. Once research projects are complete new items will become available to build in engineering. Engineers will also be recruited throughout the game, and more engineers equals faster build times and more toys that XCOM will have access to. The hangar allows you to improve and relocate ships to various parts of the world to better respond to UFO sightings.
The barracks allows you to view and edit the soldiers at your disposal, improve squad size and abilities, hire soldiers, and view a memorial of your fallen comrades. All soldiers can be customized to a degree. There is a limited selection of choices where you can change a soldiers race, voice, head, skin color, hair, hair color, and (if male) facial hair. One great addition is that you are given the freedom to rename soldiers and give nicknames. As simple as it is, being able to name the soldiers in your squad after your friends or various celebrities is a lot of fun and greatly appreciated. Naming your soldiers provides a more personal attachment troops and can make it all the more upsetting when a soldier is killed-in-action, and in XCOM:EU, soldiers really are disposable. As mentioned before, there is a memorial with the names of every soldier KIA during your campaign, meaning that once someone dies they’re gone for good. One of your most seasoned soldiers can be gone in an instant due to a poor choice or slip-up. With the constant threat of each mission being a soldier’s last, XCOM is able to house up to 99 soldiers and for a price there are always more waiting to be recruited.
The situation room gives reports regarding the panic level and status of various countries and shows time remaining on the doomsday clock, which can be remedied with the deployment of satellites. It also displays current objectives, XCOM’s finances, and national requests. The situation room also provides access to the “Gray Market,” where you can sell-off excess materials at a fixed price when money runs low (which happens a lot).
Master Control is where you scan for alien activity, where transmissions are received, and where soldiers are deployed. Scanning for activity causes days to pass by in seconds and ends only when a project is completed, a request is made, or alien activity is found. When aliens are found, troops are deployed and the fun begins. Abduction reports occur in groups of three and have varying difficulties. A higher difficulty means stronger enemies and more of them. Each abduction site also has a unique reward if successfully completed; such as additional scientists, engineers, soldiers, or money.
After playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown, one of the first words that ... (continued on next page)
Ernsty | LazerBlader
- 11:45am EDT - October 8th, 2012
Great review, Will! Sounds like a solid game, despite that framerate.
Blacksite | BlacksitePSU
- 2:27pm EDT - October 8th, 2012
I would very much recommend picking this up, if you can, for whatever platform. You don't get too many quality titles breaking away from the FPS mold.
- 3:17pm EDT - October 8th, 2012
Can't help but feel this will be lost on the console audience.
ilovejuice | I_love_Juice
- 4:25pm EDT - October 8th, 2012
Does the framerate make the gameplay worse (NOT graphically, only in terms of how it plays) at some times (for example multiplayer when you have limited time for making a move)? or "hurts the experience" means more like "could look better"? can't decide whether to pick it up for my ps3 or pc (my pc runs it 20-30fps, about 28 most of the time). Would PS3 be better than that (also I prefer playing on PS3)? I'd appreciate some info about it :)
TheMadTitan | EcksMane
- 8:21pm EDT - October 8th, 2012
So this review is based off the 360 version? I've been searching for ps3 footage and i can't find a single vid. As much as i don't want to I'm taking that as a bad sign. I remember not being able to find anything on skyrim for PS3....
WillToGame | daphantom2
- 8:33pm EDT - October 8th, 2012
@4 Framerate doesn't really mess up campaign battles because you have unlimited time to decide your next move. The framerate drops just occur fairly often and may take a few seconds to get back up to speed. I do not know if it is the same for multiplayer, because everytime I tried to play online no one else was on the servers. That is why there is no mention of the multiplayer in my review.
@5 This review is based on the PS3 version. From what I have seen of the 360, both versions are almost identical.
ilovejuice | I_love_Juice
- 1:14am EDT - October 9th, 2012
Gamespot review mentions frame rate issues only on PS3, so I guess it's just one more exclusivly messed up optimalization for our console!, Could anyone address my question about getting PC or PS3 version in this case? Same with the multiplayer one as soon as you get to try it :)
CloudStrife37 | CloudStrife37
- 12:17pm EDT - October 9th, 2012
Definitely something different among all the releases right now. After this review, I'll definitely check it out.
- 11:12pm EST - December 1st, 2012
Hey guys, a little help? I can't seem to switch my items using the D-Pad. Am I doing it wrong or something? Please help because I'm stuck in the tutorial already 'cause I can't switch to grenades :/
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