It’s all about fighting alien scum and saving the world. Welcome to XCOM, an organisation devoted to saving the world from extra-terrestrial threats with you as the Commander.
Futuristic and USA Didn’t Save The Day
Not that I have any grudges against US of A, but seriously when it comes to alien invasions, in any stereotypical way – United Sates ALWAYS saves the day. In XCOM, every decision you make, either on or off the battlefield will have consequences.
XCOM can be a challenging game if you want it to be, with multiple difficulty levels to choose from and an “Ironman” mode (forces autosaves, only 1 save). Higher difficulties will increase the A.I’s damage, life and adds a wee bit more intelligence in their tactics. Firaxis did a great job with immersion in this game, it’s like playing a story-driven game of Civilization, allowing you to build up momentum regardless of your playstyle while facing the disadvantages of fighting a technologically advanced and superior force. Your teams start out green, with a maximum size of 4 (upgradable to 6) and totally hopeless equipment in combat. As you gain more victories and face more enemies, your surviving members become stronger, their skills deadlier and your equipment more potent through research and development.
At the beginning of the game, you get to choose where XCOM HQ will be based. The location of your base is important as each continent gives different starting benefits and bonuses. You may obtain other bonuses through satellite launches later in the game, but the location of your first base is just as important as saving the rest of the world. For example, North America will give you discounts in aircraft construction and Africa will give you loads of extra cash monthly. Depending on your play style, these choices will affect your efficiency in the long run.
Battlefield’s a Pain…an Enjoyable Pain
What makes XCOM: Enemy Unknown so absolutely addictive is the battlefield interface. No kidding, you’ll spend so many hours customising your characters from head to toe, giving them funky names and choosing their abilities.
Combat has a heavy focus on cover, elevation and flanking in XCOM. While good positions may give you a better chance to hit an enemy, being behind cover gives you more chances of surviving enemy attacks. As you will always be outnumbered, there is no question as to why these things might make or break your team. Don’t take the value of your soldiers too lightly, they become irreplaceable as they advance through ranks and gain new abilities.
It’s either Brilliant Scientists, Creative Engineers, Talented Recruits or Cold Hard Cash
Dilemma is what makes XCOM fun. Missions will either reward you with cash, engineers, soldiers or scientists. You make the toughest decisions. Players will not only decide which missions to take, but also which rewards they sorely need. Besides that, while taking a mission reduces the panic within the area you just saved, panic will rise in areas you did not save. In hindsight, it’s a losing battle, but you, as the commander of XCOM will have to make those tough choices for mankind. Once a countries panic level goes overboard, they will stop funding the XCOM project and you will be facing tougher enemies. So choices are important.
There will be definitely a review for this. Although there were a number of technical issues and some negligible bugs in the game, it is still better than any game we’ve tried so far in this genre. Stay tuned to Vernonchan.com, as we will try to get a review out as soon as possible. Here are a few in-game screenshots.