Review by Rottenwood

"A Major Tactical Error"

The original 'XCOM' was a gaming classic and one of the all-time great 'sleeper hits,' so a sequel was inevitable. However, the designers should have probably taken a bit more time and care with their new franchise. This sequel, 'XCOM: Terror From The Deep,' feels very rushed. And even though it's basically identical to the first game (except for minor graphical changes), the design team somehow managed to wipe away much of the fun of the game play. That's just plain bizarre; how can you rehash a game, make it worse, and then put it on the shelves? Is the brief influx of income worth the lost fans and tarnished reputation of the 'XCOM' name? Apparently so.
The game takes place years after the terror of the first 'XCOM,' and the citizens of Earth have relaxed and gone back to their daily lives. The 'XCOM' program has been shut down; until, that is, aliens are found lurking down deep in the oceans. It seems that the destruction of the base on Mars activated an underwater colony of aliens, who are now coming up to the surface to gain their revenge. And so, the 'XCOM' program is re-opened, and the game begins.
The main difference between this game and it's predecessor is that this one is water-based. Your bases are in the ocean, you use submarines instead of spaceships, and the enemies are aquatic. Otherwise, this game is almost identical to the first. Being underwater has no effect on the combat, as grenades throw the same and soldiers move just as much during a turn. (If you're going to make an underwater game, why not at least do something interesting with the aquatic combat?)
Even more inexplicably, the people of 'XCOM' seem to have gone back into the Stone Age since the first game. Remember the plasma rifles and blaster bombs of old? Well, sorry, all of that stuff is gone. (Using the 'no Elerium' loophole, no doubt. Elerium was the alien element from the first game that was required to build the advanced weaponry.) But what about lasers, at least? Well, believe it or not, at the beginning of this game, you are fighting the aliens with... harpoons. Seriously. Building up from the bottom was exciting in the original 'XCOM;' in this game, it's just silly.
The strategical combat scenes use the exact same interface as the original 'XCOM.' However, the alien base and citizen defense missions have multiple stages now, and take forever. The fun of the first game was based on the great balance of tactical combat, research, base building, and ship battles. In this game, the balance is thrown off by the pointlessly long tactical battles, and they become dull and plodding. I found myself begging for the alien base missions to be over, so I could get back to the research.
The research tree in this game is a bit more complicated than the first, although it's not necessarily a bad thing. However, this game has lost the excitement of discovery. All of the weapons in this game are identical to the first, except that they have different names and ammo types. So if you know the first game, you can pretty much point at a rifle and say: ''yup, that's the new heavy plasma rifle.'' I would have thought that it would be FUN to design new weapons, rather than just throw in the old ones and alter their names and pictures.
The graphics have actually gotten worse since the first 'XCOM.' Everything is a little grainier and less cleanly drawn. I suppose that graphics are a matter of preference, but when I heard this was going to be an underwater game, I had expected much more enchanting visuals.
The music is either boring or just plain annoying. The sounds are sparse and pitiful, and seem to have been thrown in for the heck of it. Just awful.
So, there you have it. You plod along through endless missions, killing uninteresting aliens and saving poorly-drawn humans. The magic of the original 'XCOM' seems to have vanished into thin air. I guess that the old adage holds true: if it ain't broken, don't try to fix it. PLEASE don't try to fix it, or it will end up to become something like this disaster.
What the heck happened here? How could such an amazing game like the first 'XCOM' have spawned this mess? It may seem unfair to compare this game to the first one, but if this can't even compare to its predecessor, why bother with it?
Why indeed?


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 08/23/00, Updated 08/23/00


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