Review by MakMan333
"Well Done Commander"
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is updated version of the classic 1993 XCOM. As someone who has never played the original game, I can't tell you how it compares obviously having no prior experience. This is both good and bad. It allows me to have a impartial view because I can review this game on it is own and it holds up very well on it's own. However, I can't tell you if you loved the original version that you will love this one, I can only assume that you will. Still, this is a fantastic game and for those of us who have never played an XCOM game, a fantastic introduction into the series.
Story: There is a very basic story that follows throughout the game. It's generic but it's not bad in any sense, just ordinary. I wasn't particularly a fan of the ending, as it seems to just peter out and end suddenly but it didn't ruin my overall enjoyment of the game and most likely, it won't ruin yours.
Gameplay: XCOM:EU is a tactical turn based strategy game. You have a starting squad size of 4, which can be increased to 6. There are four main classes, Sniper, Assault, Heavy and Support. Each has a different role on the battlefield that can be altered through the abilities they unlock as they level through military ranks. There's a variety of different ways that you can play each class so experimenting with them and the abilities is highly recommended.
During each turn every character gets two actions. They can use one of those actions to move to a new location or use both to go to a further one. The catch being that if you use both (known as dashing) you can't attack or go into Overwatch mode. Overwatch mode can be used by anyone if your squad but also by your enemies. In it's most basic form your character will fire on an enemy when they enter their line of sight. They are a few abilities in certain classes that modify this in various ways though. A small benefit of dashing, to offset the fact that you can't attack, is that if you run into an enemy's Overwatch, they are more likely to miss.
One of the more interesting (and occasionally frustrating) aspects is the fact that if an member of your squad dies, they stay dead. So it behooves you to plan ahead, making sure any injured squad members are safe until you can either heal them or finish the mission on hand. If a squad member is injured during the mission, they can miss a certain amount of days after the mission, meaning that they will not be able to participate in any following mission, as they will be healing.
Between missions you still have a lot to do. The resource management may seem a bit overwhelming at first but it's not particularly hard to grasp after a few hours figuring it out. You have a laboratory (for researching new projects), an engineering station (to build new items), the barracks (where you can fiddle with your soldiers), a hanger (where you can build and move around your Interceptors) and the situation room (where you can sell unneeded items and see how the world's panic is doing). You also have mission control which is accessed by pressing the triangle button. This is where you'll receive most of your missions and how you'll speed up time between missions. Back to the world's panic though. Over the course of the game, you'll receive a variety of mission some of which require you to choose between certain countries. Underneath their name you'll see a 5 bar panic meter. If this meter reaches 5 and stays that way when the council meets (which is every 30 days) they will leave the XCOM project, taking their funding with them. You do not want this to happen, if you can avoid it, so managing panic is key. This is done through a two different ways, the major one being missions and the second being launching a satellite over the country.
One of my favorite parts is that the game remains challenging even on the lower difficulties. You will lose people, even on Easy. I haven't started either a higher difficulty or a Ironman run yet (Ironman basically means you only have one save throughout your entire game) but I imagine I will get my butt handed to me the first few times I play through them. If you fail, do not be upset or worry. Failure is a big part of what makes a success mission so awesome. Watching all your minute movements and planning succeeding in the end is amazing and the fact that every mission can go so differently from the last one is a huge part of that.
Multiplayer: There is an incredibly basic MP mode that follows the core gameplay of the main game, just against a human opponent. You get a set amount of points to build a squad (again with a limit of 6). Basic soldiers and aliens cost the least but you are able to upgrade the soldiers with various equipment for extra points. I've only played one match and while it seemed fun, the main draw of this game is the single player.
Graphics: The graphics are nothing special but they hold up fine. Most of the alien designs are interesting. The maps themselves are also well designed. They also usually pretty randomized from place to place so even though you may have various missions in Canada they also take place in a different part therefore with a different map. You also have the ability to customize each solider but the options are pretty limited and if you don't have a Elite Solider Pack (included in first run copies) you can't even change the color of their armor.
Sound: For the most part the sound is also fine. You tend to hear repeated dialogue from aliens and your characters but that's to be expected. I did notice a few audio glitches toward the end of the game, where sound would cut out for no reason but it wasn't a major issue.
Replay Value: There's actually quite a bit of replay value. The most important part is going to be whether or not you enjoy the core gameplay but there's varying degrees of difficulty and the Ironman mode. On top of that the missions themselves are randomized so you'll get a bunch of different missions during the course of replaythroughs. You can easily end up putting hundreds of hours into the game when all is said and done.
Final word: Overall, I can't recommend this game highly enough. It's a huge time suck in that you'll start playing and then look at the clock and wonder where the hours went. It's basic enough that first time TBS games can enjoy it but hardcore one's will also find a lot to love here. Firaxis put a lot of love into this game and it shows. It's a fantastically crafted game that manages to remain fun while still being difficult, something that I know is hard to do. If you have any interest (which you must because you're reading a review of the game) go pick it up. You won't be disappointed.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/23/12
Game Release: XCOM: Enemy Unknown (US, 10/09/12)
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