X-COM is a science fiction strategy franchise back in 1994; it’s now back under Firaxis and 2K with a fresh coat of paint, and some refined gameplay. X-COM Enemy Unknown is a turn based strategy centring on a grid based gameplay system but also heavy resource management.
Set in the near future players take control of X-Com a global organisation set up by the Council: a collection on countries focused on defending earth from alien threats. X-Com isn’t set over a short time, its set over a large space of time as the alien attacks grow day by day, letting players get a deep experience of the invasion progressing.
Gameplay is divided into two distinct sections, the base and the field. This helps to separate the common divide on many modern strategies and their war on base building, as it allows a nice sidestep of the build orders that plague many base builders.
X-Com after all is an invested organisation; this means much of the base gameplay is aimed at keeping up a steady income from the council to support your field work, which keeps the council happy. Much of the facility is a large underground complex still left to be completed, this allows the player to build his facility whichever way he wants, from focusing more on creating technology, researching it, or firing satellites into space to watch over other countries. It plays an astoundingly important role, impacting very quickly if a council member wants to drop out of X-Com, thus removing a chunk of income.
X-Com forces you to make tough calls in this area, multiple missions will be offered at once, with only one being able to be taken, this means a choice is needed between keeping certain regions safety, or going to others for benefits and bonuses. It creates and interesting dynamic, that can greatly impact how challenging the game is as more threats are introduced.
Apart from building up your facility another important section is research and workshop. Using both time and alien artifacts that could be sold, players research different technology as time passes, allowing new tool to be made from, jetpacks to remote controlled machines capable of replacing troops on the field.Different research can prove vital, with certain aliens being countered by specific tools, making research in certain areas mean the difference between victory and an all-out massacre.
The field is where you will spend most of your time; these fights can range from VIP missions, to Alien assaults on cities, allowing for a diverse range of missions. The gameplay is composed on a grid based cover heavy turn based system, where you and the aliens take turns moving your troops and shooting with the game’s two action system.Each unit is capable of making two actions per turn; this is largely modified by special perks the player can acquire based on equipment and training.
Troops have access to the standard shot, reload and move also have access to a more important overwatch and hunker down, and used to counteract the large tactics that flanking dominates in the game. The fog of war while prominent in the game leaves room for improvement, frequently allowing shots to travel through solid walls. Much of the environment is more for ascetics then actual gameplay, this by no means cover isn’t an important factor, as almost all cover in X-COM can be riddled with bullets and rockets until it breaks aiding the tactical gameplay present once again, destroying that protection a unit possessed.
X-COM Is a brutal game, your units will die, no matter how long, how strong, or how well you play they can die. These units aren’t a blank slate they have names, faces, and voices and nick names all customisable. It lets you get attached just enough before a Chrysalid violently tears his face off, leaving him to turn against you as a Zombie.
In X-COM when a soldier dies, he is gone, end of. This is only made much more terrifying by how the game is governed by the horrifying percentage. It’s straight forward if you have a fifty percentage chance to hit a target, you can still miss four times before hitting with a large portion of the fight left over to lady luck. This works both with and against the game, leaving you to always make contingency plans or quickly lose council members.
X-Com has focused heavily on its visuals not only supporting a unique graphical style for its entire universe, but also a heavily cinematic based action. Whenever a shot is taken players are treated to an over the shoulder and sometimes slowmo of the character mowing their targets down. It’s a visual treat for successful attacks, drawing the otherwise relaxed turn based gameplay, into a much more action packed combat zone.
The aliens deserve an explicit mention, the stages of the invasion are truly well made, each day offering greater dangers, and bringing more varied and strange creations sent down to invade. This ranges from heavy armoured Mutons who going into a rage whenever shot, to the Thin Men a failed attempt to create a copy of humans with reptilian DNA, creating a sideways blinking borderline spineless creature.
Addictive, fun, action packed, an all-round exciting package keeping you hooked from start to finish, it gives a greatly varied experience which constantly changes and easily enjoyable. The only problem is a couple of issues needed refinement to create an otherwise perfect experience.
X-COM Presents a great visual style, giving it’s humans a great flair, while also demonstrating the distinct Varity it can create in its aliens. X-Com is also able to give a vastly more action packed turn based experience compared to other strategy games due to its Action Camera. Its visuals are only hindered by the camera being unreliable.
The voices also deserve their dues, with some great voice work helping to draw you into the action.
The game’s length is highly dependent on the player. Easily repayable but an average campaign could last anywhere from 15-25 hours. X-COM offers multiple difficulty modes and even a Ironman mode which locks saving, stopping players from reverting save games.
X-Com does offer a multiplayer mode that lets players use all units seen in the campaign, but is largely forgettable with the lack of base gameplay.
A great remake of the classic series, there are a couple of issues with the game, and some old fans might miss certain parts that got cut or restriction chucked in, but otherwise a gem for anyone who enjoys strategy games or hell games in general.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.