X-COM: Enemy Unknown

When I was in the service, we were actually authorized and encouraged to play Command & Conquer and ever since then, I’ve been hooked on RTS games.  So when I heard about X-COM: Enemy Unknown (2012), I knew I had to give this game a try. The game itself is a reboot from the 1994 PC classic. Whereas the original was published by MicroProse, the newest version was published and produced by 2K Games. As we all know 2K has brought us a wide variety of great games. Will X-COM make the cut?

X-COM in a sense is not a traditional RTS whereas you build a structure that can then create a endless supply of soldiers. Never understood how that was done, were there test tube babies inside, clones from Kamino, or couples hanging out making babies like crazy. In X-COM, you hire soldiers from countries who are participating in the X-COM program (kinda like the U.N.). So if a country opts out later due to your lack of protection, then so does the hiring ability of their soldiers. Your soldiers vary in class (Assault, Heavy, Support, Sniper, and drones). Each class has a skill tree that you choose from as your soldier ranks up. Once you figure out the mechanics you can have a well rounded kick-ass special ops team. Be warned, if your character takes significant damage they have to stay at an infirmary getting fixed up before their next mission, so this can alter the combat effectiveness of your team. If they die on mission, then you will have to hire from a pool of other soldiers, so it’s always a good idea to have a rotation of fire-teams going out on missions.

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Your base of operations is a complex yet easy to understand matrix of buildings to enhance your team. You control the build of laboratories (increase the study of alien artifacts), workshops (build weaponry and armor that the science team has discovered), satellite up-links (send satellites out over the globe to help X-COM nations protect their countries. At times, it gets fustrating on where and what to spend your resources on. Whereas, resources come from a successful mission, money comes from satellite protected countries, and engineers and scientist come from all thee above. Each item you research, build, or deploy takes a predefined number of days to finish. I love this aspect, as it feels like a reward if it is completed before the next mission appears. (See below for details)

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The missions are not like other RTS where you build more than you need and typically an overwhelming force to attack your opponent. In X-COM, missions are selected at random, you scan the globe for alien encounters and sometimes one will pop up the next day, but sometimes not for 20 days; it’s very random. There are two types of combat, air and land. You have no control over air combat, you send out a fighter to dual it out with a UFO. Then you just watch the un-fulfilling, radar looking aerial combat. If you have invested your time and resources into your air warfare program, then you should win this out every time. In ground combat you select your fire team of 4-6 players. Once landed, then you move your characters a set number of tiles and attack the enemy. You will need to utilize cover and each players skills to your advantage.

Bounding over watch is a must!! Put snipers on tall buildings, set up intersecting fields of fire and draw the little buggers out, or go full assault utilizing frontal and flanking maneuvers. The games A.I. is no slouch either and will also employ some of the same tactics. The tile movement is very similar to Might and Magic Heroes VI. SAVE IMMEDIATELY WHEN YOUR TEAM LANDS!! Or you will be like me, having started the game over from scratch.

I highly recommend the Slingshot Content Pack. The pack adds some badass helmets and gear, but also makes the random alien mission, more story-based.

GRAPHICS

Isometric style by Unreal Engine 3. I have kicked you in the nards PC, so running the graphics at optimum was a piece of cake. The graphics are not phenomenal but the look great. I never had any glitching or graphical errors.

SOUND

Music Composed by Michael McCann (great job too). Has a deep bass drum, string instrument sound to it. It definitely sound like outer space and military mix.  I highly recommend checking it out on Youtube. Sounds pretty awesome, just not a predominate sound in the game as it should be. One of the sounds I loved was when the shotgun blasted an alien straight to the ground.. yep! This is a weird one for me as the soundtrack by itself is freaking awesome! But in the game it is very non memorable. Unlike Skyrim, Halo, Oblivion, and Mass Effect where the soundtrack was always going on with the exploring and had the perfect level of loudness for lack of better words, in X-COM during game play it’s just there and doesn’t incorporate awe.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall the game is awesome! I find myself missing out on other normal day functions, such as showering, eating, and sleeping, as I hear my conscience telling me… just one more mission, or just one more research project. Where the game falls short is the maps. You might have a mission in Africa and the map is exactly the same as New York, with English-the whole nine yards.

Go out and buy this game! It’s available on steam and not overpriced. It’s a nice twist to RTS and fun to play. It’s not fast paced like a FPS, and if you’re a fan of Roswell style aliens, this game has them!

SAVE YOUR KEYBOARD AND SAVE OFTEN!!

Pros

  • Fun to play.
  • Kills time faster than Orson Welles.
  • Decent graphics and gloomy alien feel.

Cons

  • Soundtrack needs to be pushed to the forefront of the gaming.
  • Forgetting to save can cost you hours of game play if you have a favorite character or fire team set.
  • Rotation of maps don’t make the game feel like you are fighting in the country the encounter is supposed to be in.

Style – 1 player RTS varient online Multiplayer

Publisher – 2K  Games

Developer – 2K Ganes

Release – October 2012

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