Friday, April 12, 2013

XCOM:Enemy Unknown

This one's been out for a while, so I really doubt anyone who cares about it is going to find anything new here.  I'm just in the mood to chatter about a game that's been taking up a chunk of my nighttime activities lately.

If you don't know, XCom:EU is a squad level, turned based 3rd person strategy game based off a beloved 1990's game, X-Com (officially UFO:Enemy Unknown, but I'll be damned if I ever heard anyone call it that.) You are the commander of an organization put together to try and counter the threat of an alien invasion.  You're out teched, out manned, out planned, and the only reason you have a chance at all is the aliens want something from you.

Alongside the missions moving slowly and carefully (yaknow, assuming you like your soldiers to live) through various locations looking for aliens to shoot, you have to build your base, manage your equipment, research and build alien technology, and keep the countries funding all of this from freaking out and cutting off your money supply.  You can be absolutely flawless at the squad based combat and still get your clock cleaned if you don't manage the big picture carefully, which is usually where I have problems.

The original was one of the first games I got hooked on, with my friends and I swapping control of the computer every time one of us wiped out on a mission, which was a lot.  It could get brutal, especially early on, and you leaned not to get too attached to your opening operatives.  Until you began getting better armor there just wasn't any point, sooner or later one of the several aliens you were dealing with was going to catch them with a plasma blast.  You had to expand out your base, build others around the globe and slowly research and manufacture your way to victory, all the while fending off alien attacks across the planet.

The remake takes all of that and condenses it somewhat.  The original had large squads, if memory serves starting at 14, with almost non-existent life expectancies.  The remake you start with four squad members, with the option to upgrade to six.  One hint, DO IT.  You only have the one base in XCOM, although you have fighter bays on each continent you can launch interceptors from to try to shoot down UFO's.  It can take a week or two of playing some each night to get through a full game, more if you're attached to your soldiers and keep reloading when the aliens manage to splat you again and again.  Your troops level up as they gain experience, giving them special roles, new to the remake, that they can further develop to gain special powers.

I loves me my snipers.

All in all I find it a fun game, and it keeps me occupied.  There's a lot of replay value in the game, with multiple difficulty levels and different bonuses available depending on where you start your base at.  There's even an iron man mode, where you have one save file that autosaves every turn.  Maybe someday, but I've had one too many squads get a face full of alien grenade after all six of them missed shooting at the Sectoid standing two feet in front of them to not look at that option with a sense of dread.

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