Review by graey24601


The visuals are fine for this generation. Obviously they're more detailed than the old school X-com games, since we're talking years and years here. The game gets a passing grade for graphics, although not outstanding.

The sound is likewise passable. I don't usually judge games very heavily based on sound/music unless there is something really annoying or awesome (bad voice acting or great background music for example).

This is where the game falls short. There are multiple problems that all seem to revolve around streamlining, or as one might better put it, "dumbing down" the game.

1: There are no time units/action points. Each soldier can either move within a set radius and then take an action, or move within a larger radius and take no action. Movement must be done before an action is taken. This enforced order and lack of granularity detracts from the enjoyment of the battlescape.

2: Soldiers' inventories have been heavily dumbed down. There's no item sizes, weight, belt slots or backpack slots. You have your main weapon (assault rifle, shotgun, ect), your sidearm (pistol) and then one or two auxiliary items (medkit ect). I spent a good deal of time trying to figure out how to get to the real inventory before realizing that there just isn't one. Terrible.

3: Related to the above, ammo is not managed by the player. You can reload your weapon as the soldier's action and there seems to be no limit to the number of times you can do this. On the other hand, weapons seem to have a very small magazine capacity. I found both of these aspects to be unrealistic and not as fun as the previous games.

4: Probably tied to the removal of time units, there are fewer firing modes. No more "snap shot" "auto shot" and "aimed shot" although sniper rifles have head-shots. This further degrades the depth of the tactical game.

5: Cover. Previous X-com games had cover and it was done very well; if you were behind an object, you had cover. There was no "cover system" or "firing from cover by poking your head out". Also I have to question how aliens leap to cover as soon as they're spotted on the player's turn. All in all the cover system is just shoved in the player's face far too much.

6: Soldier advancement has been more or less lobotomized. They don't seem to have stats and only advance in terms of rank, gaining a new "perk" ability on each rank. They also have roles which, once determined, cannot be changed. The roles are not such a huge problem but without individual stat advancement, the soldiers lose a lot of depth.

7: The numbers are all very very low. If something does 6 points of damage, that's a lot. In previous games there was a lot more flex room in terms of health/damage as well as all other stats.

I found the geoscape and base management systems to be of somewhat higher quality than the battlescape. It can get a little tedious due to all the camera zooms and seeming lack of any sort of broad-purpose status screen. The "ant farm" model is neither better nor worse, to my mind, than the previous single floor overhead view. The old school X-com games gave a lot more base management/creation options and flexibility.

Among other odds and ends I found it silly that the aliens' equipment explodes upon the death of the alien, such an obvious game mechanic. Accuracy seems to be terrible for both sides, which makes for some very silly situations where an alien is a couple meters in front of you and you can't put a single round into each other.

One thing that's still largely missing is hand to hand combat. Say what you will but if you're half a meter away from a little gray sectoid it makes perfect sense to kick it in the face or back of the head. The scientists and engineers go to a lot of trouble to come up with an alien taser to capture these suckers but nobody thinks about maybe just beating them senseless and slapping on a standard pair of handcuffs?

One final thing of note is that this game is probably a lot more enjoyable for someone who never played the first couple X-com games (Ufo defense and Terror from the Deep) or any of the games they inspired. UFO Aftermath and UFO Extraterrestrials did a much better job of capturing the fun of the first X-com games than this true sequel in the series and I would suggest those without hesitation.

Reviewer's Rating:   1.5 - Bad

Originally Posted: 11/27/12

Game Release: XCOM: Enemy Unknown (US, 10/09/12)

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