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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2013
I imagine that's exactly how this game came to be. 2K games was in the maternity ward, Firaxis Games at her side, both awaiting the arrival of their second XCOM child. "It's Beautiful," said 2K as she passed the child to Firaxis for inspection... but then.... then Firaxis started noticing that the child looked a lot like Mass Effect. "It's in your head," 2K repeatedly assured him. But he couldn't shake it, and eventually 2K sobbingly confessed to one night... a drunken mistake with Mass Effect. "I want no part in it!" screamed Firaxis as he stormed out of 2K's life. Alas, what's bad for Firaxis and 2K's overly-contrived-metaphorical marriage isn't necessarily bad for us.

The Good:

Gameplay: I suspect this will probably be high on a lot of people's "Bad" list, but I rather enjoyed it. It's nowhere near a normal XCOM game, so if that's what you're after you should probably pass this up. Rather, this plays very much like mass effect. It's a third-person tactical shooter. Like mass effect you use the same button to sprint and take cover, you can pause game to issue commands (not pause really, but ultra slow motion) to your squad and you have conversation decision points to help get information and drive dialog. Your squad doesn't seem to use abilities on their own, which is arguably good and bad. It means you won't have your squadmates using their special abilities at stupid times and thus forcing a cooldown, but it also means if you slack off on the micro-management they aren't really helping. I like that you can queue up commands, so for flanking bonus you can tell them to cloak, go behind enemy and snipe. Then it's hands off, they will go do those three things. No doubt about it, you will lose some of the tactical aspects when genre-shifting; but I personally think they found a nice balance.

Story: While not nearly as broad in scope as something like Mass Effect, it fits nicely into the XCOM universe. You'll see a lot of familiar units and weapon concepts, but being set in the early 1960's, it also has a lot of different stuff which I think contributes nicely to the game. In games like XCOM: Enemy Unknown you can build a base, but in this game you can walk around and interact with people in the base. I enjoy getting more immersed in games like this but it's definitely not everyone's cup of tea.

The Bad:

XCOM: As I said above, it doesn't bug me at all, but it will bug many many people to call this XCOM. This game is to XCOM what Halo Wars was to Halo. (Full disclosure, I liked Halo Wars too) That is to say, it takes a well-loved franchise with a clear formula and completely changes the type of game it is. XCOM has been around forever, and it's been a turn-based tactical strategy game with base-building included. Now it's a tactical shooter. Some people won't make that jump, and I don't blame them. If they'd somehow made this an MMORPG I certainly wouldn't be onboard, but I was fortunate enough that they made it into another genre that I appreciate so it all works out. If you don't like games like Mass Effect or Dragon Age you definitely will not like this game no matter how much you love XCOM itself.

Misc: It seems like every game needs to have a protagonist with a low-gruff-raspy voice... it's how you know that your character means business. Oh, and it helps if his direct family died and he somehow blames himself, so you can give him a kind of "I can't let this happen again" mentality. Complete with cliches like "I work alone" and "I don't play by the rules," character development is often boring and predictable. I'm not really docking much for this, as it's an area that most developers pay very little attention; but I wish games would put forth the extra effort.

Summary: This game is worth it if you go into it with the right expectations. Go in knowing it's not like Enemy Unknown, and preferably having an appreciation for the other similar games described above. I haven't really browsed other reviews, but I imagine there will be quite a few negative ones. Some will say they tried to be 2-3 different genres and didn't master any of them, and they're right. That said, it's still a fun game for me and if you're still interested after reading about its potential disappointments, I'd say wait for it to go on sale and give it a try.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
The Bureau follows just after the founding of XCOM, with supporters wanting to use the agency to fight the commies and others trying to turn attention to the mysterious Outsiders. Agent Carter is tasked by the director of the Bureau to deliver a briefcase with and artifact to the Bureaus HQ. Along the way, he is attacked by an infected Air Force lieutenant, and when he recovers, the artifact is gone, and Earth is under attack.

Thus you are dropped into XCOM: The Bureau(I really think the title works better that way), a rather fast-paced intro followed by a well put together plot of the more insidious alien invasion that preambles Enemy Unknown.

Graphics are well detailed, and the battle overlay is very well done. Colors fade out but enemies are highlgihted brightly, and it creates a kind of tunnel vision. You can't just pause and plot your moves: you have to be aware of the environment and know what orders to give rather than just waffle about, because you could lose track of that piece of cover you wanted to move to when its all muted grays. And the battle plan doesn't fully pause, so you can't just rely on it to give you oodles of spare time to make a plan. And Carter actually calls the orders, a nice touch given the normal system is just understood to be telepathy. Backgrounds are rich and varied, and you feel like you're traveling through an underground government bunker or a high school without feeling like its a series of cookie cut and pasted rooms.

Audio is great, and a huge improvement in my mind over Enemy Unknown to have more than just a handful of voiced characters. Not to give away plot points, but you definitely pay more attention to what people say since theres a chance they may be sleeper agents. They also worked well to create a language for the aliens, and its so eerie that you kind of shudder when you hear it clearly for the first few times.

The storyline is very creepy, and definitely has more of an X-files feel rather than a Mars Attacks! one, and the tone and overall creepiness of the game is so organic that hearing an Outsider bark out orders in their sibilant tongue can give you a startle scare when you're creeping through a bunker.

The only nits I have are with specific items. The character faces are so detailed they can look weird when they talk, kind of like watching a Mr. Ed episode. The enemies drop in from surprising and annoying points at times, and in XCOM they'd do a cutaway to let you know you had another enemy squad apporaching, the only way you know about it this time is when an agent screams for help. Some of the abilities are overpowered, and you'll quickly come to rely on the deployable turrets. Cover is dicey. You'd think a brick wall would be better than a car for cover, but you'd be wrong. Theres should have been a more "covering fire" ability particularly for Carter, since its when you're moving from cover to cover that your agents will become bullet magnets.

Overall, this is great. Series fans may balk at the change in core gameplay, but the experience is fresh and well put together, and the story got ramped up to the point that more people will be pulled into the franchise. The system can be merciless, but thats just another reason you know its a real XCOM game.

I'm rather baffled that I've gotten so many negative votes so quickly. Could you please comment why if you find this review unhelpful.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2013
XCOM is a strategy game. Always has been. But here comes the Bureau and all of a sudden, you get to actually be on the team, lead the team, be in the 60's with makeshift sci-fi gear and fight a desperate battle for mankind's survival. Wow... so it's NOT your usual XCOM game. It IS set in the same universe and you do have quite a vast amount of tactical options in the field making this game quite an interesting hybrid. And honestly, a rather well executed one.

I do not believe that this game is to be considered as just another FPS. It is definitely a game apart from the mass. The battles are rather fierce and playing on harder difficulties is a worthwhile challenge. The storyline is not the most original, but on the other hand, which game delivers such a thing nowadays? Crysis 3? Dead Space? It's all been pretty chewed up by now and it's rather tough to come up with something truly innovative. Plus, you have to take into account that the game is kinda-sorta an extension, or rather an insight on how XCOM came to be. So it should be easy to forgive the soapy plot. A big thumbs up to the cast who voiced the characters, they've done a really good job.

Graphics are really neat and you can tell the Unreal Engine has been pushed, maybe a little too much as on rare occasions, the framerate drops considerably for some unknown reasons (reflections? Cloth simulation? Couldn't really pin point the issue). There are other oddities sometimes (clipping, collision, aso) but really nothing which would really hurt the gameplay.

Overall, The Bureau is a very enjoyable game, with lots of possibilities to explore (tacticians get ready to sweat) and a rather beautiful environment to immerse into. Worth the money and a nice addition to the XCOM saga even though it definitely is a game apart from its predecessors. Before you go on a rampage because it's not a true XCOM game, give it a shot. I can't say I was disappointed at all. So four stars just because it lacks a bit of polish and because I just wish it had more missions to play.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2013
The game looks great (the 50s style is dead on) but the unreal engine really chugs more than it should versus other games using the same engine. The lip syncing is off but, that isnt a dealbreaker.

The combat steals heavily from Mass Effect, but it is superior to ME in that the combat actually has some genuine tactical thought to it. The combat is frantic and not everyone is going to like that. Note that you have to play the game for at least 5 hours before your team gets cool combat abilities that allow for all of that tactical thought.

Unlike Mass Effect, your team isnt hyper-accurate with guns at every shot. They miss. Some are going to be annoyed by that but I thought it was more "realistic."

Perma-Death. Ugh. this is the part that makes no sense. Your teammates can die forever, but it is easy to restart from the last checkpoint so the permadeath makes no sense whatsoever.

You spend a lot of time walking around an X-Com base; it can be marginally interesting but you may soon get bored. The characters in the base are not that interesting unfortunately.

Bottom line? much better than some reviews suggest, but still a game to find for 25bucks
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2014
Let me start off by saying this game is not terrible. It's okay. Let me go over the pros and cons of this game.

-Weapon Variety, excellent
-Squad Customization, good
-Personal Customization, really nice
-Some relevant choices in story
-Equipment Customization, nice
-Lots of different abilities you and your squad can use
-Some of the enemies are recognizable from previous XCOM games

-This one is really personal: All the ads for this game show the main character wearing a fedora and vest, or some other suit/dress clothing. This outfit is present for one level, then he just wears a sweater the rest of the game. It kinda killed the whole 60s secret agent thing for me.
-Story: The story isn't super interesting but and it is hard to care about it for several reasons.
-Characters that you can only learn about through either dull conversations are way too long audio recordings
-Uninteresting characters
-Really long waits, like to access part of a base you have to sit like 20 seconds in this stupid decontamination field, and then the doors open,
-you often have to walk around your base trying to find that one sidequest that was vaguely mentioned,
-There is also no map to the base, no quest log
-Really bad squad controls, they never use their abilities without you telling them, but they rarely listen
-They never take cover on their own and will disobey and order after complying with it for 10 seconds
This next con is a minor spoiler for the game, so be warned.

There is a potentially really interesting segment where a Russian spy is discovered in the XCOM base. This leads to one of the best scenes in the game where your character and the spy converse in Russian. You have the option of trying to turn him into an XCOM agent. Only problem is, if you do, he looks exactly like one of the 3 skins your agents can have, and sounds exactly like all the other agents on missions.

All in all, this game is pretty average, but very dissapointing. Some random story stuff happens to characters you have no reason to care about. Wouldn't really recommend unless you are super hardcore XCOM fan (I'm not, I just like third-person shooters).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2013
Let me start by saying I am a big XCOM fan but that doesn't mean im going to like a game just because the name XCOM is slapped on something
Before i buy a game i usually do a little research and i saw video and read reviews about the game and they all had the same thing to say; "This isn't an XCOM game" usually bring up the installment before this one which was XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and it is true its nothing like Enemy Unknown but if you look back at the series we will find a game called XCOM Enforcer which was also a third person shooter so i really wouldn't trust those reviews

Now as for my opinion the game i found to be fun but flawed
Its a basic third person shooter with a cover based system while its good its not the best
i feel one big reason this game was given such bad reviews when released was because they paid a lot of money for very little game play
the game has no multi player so you only have the campaign to play and that only provides about three days(non-continuous) worth of game play when played on normal difficulty setting
The game also lack an interesting story, most of the time i played and never thought about the story i just wanted to get back out on the battlefield so if your looking for a good story there is none to be found here there was so much they could have done to have developed the characters and also so many plot twist that i thought would occur but never happened keeping the story bland
The game-play is fun its real neat how you can be both out on the battlefield and at the same time shout out orders i feel that real put you the player into the boots of a leader the gun mechanics arent the best but once you get your alien tech it all gets better
The game provides a rank up system that gives you and your team mate new abilities everytime you rank up and they are very handy,
The characters environments and enemies a designed very beautifully everything looks so nice

In the end i recommend the game but only when the price dips to or under 20 dollars
the game while fun has its many flaws that cant be overlooked the very little game play provided isnt enough to be a stand alone game it felt more like i was playing a long demo they should have put more into the campaign if it wasnt going to have a multiplayer and they should have developed a better story and expanded on the character presented and thats why i give it
three sectoid corpses out of five
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2014
Pretty much everything I wanted from the canceled XCom Alliance game that we never got. Yes, it apes Mass Effect, in more than a few ways. It has the third person cover-based shooting and pause-and-command system of Mass Effect, along with the mechanic of storyline choice steering your experience.

While it lacks the overwhelming scope of the Mass Effect games, it does offer a deeper tactical system than found in Bioware's games.

The story is fun, even if you need to stretch your 'suspension of disbelief' a bit. Honestly, considering that you had to do the same for the previous X-com games, it's not a surprise. In the second half of the game, the stakes get raised and the plot twists in some interesting and unexpected ways.

The voice acting is pretty solid and the overall flavor of setting it in that weird time period of the space race, yet before the hippie cultural revolution was a jolting and interesting choice.

It is 3rd best X-com game, past the first and the recent tactical remake.

The game is not without it's flaws, of course. The lip syncing and actor motion capture lacks polish. Also, the graphics are stylized and simplistic, yet run horribly on the highest graphic settings. It's also rather brief, with very little in the way of fleshing out and side missions.

Also, it lacks the research, production, interception and base management of the previous games, so if that is what defines an Xcom game to you, you may be disappointed.

This game with has convinced me that this will be cult classic game, like Vampire: Bloodlines or Alpha Protocol (though not as broken as either of those) and that not everyone is meant to 'get it'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Good: Captures the Cold War atmosphere, fun tactical combat, deep character customization

The Bad: Every battle starts to feel the same, nothing in between to break it up, story is muddled, squad perma-death is frustrating

XCOM: Enemy Unknown was one of the best RTS games to come out in years. It had tightly coordinated tactical gameplay that packed a punch and kept you on your toes. The Bureau kind of keeps this idea while bringing you into the dice rolled battles first hand so you can control them. The game takes place after the Cold War where agent William Carter is tasked with helping save the entire planet from an alien invasion. That is one hefty mission, but you have squad mates to bring alongside with you.

XCOM is a third person cover based tactical shooter. It pretty much feels like a zoomed in more detailed Enemy Unknown. You will encounter some of the same enemies and the art style is even the same. You can snap into cove and order your squad to do things like lift and enemy up, heal, revive, throw out traps like mines, sharpshoot and enemy etc. You can queue these up while time slows down and watch it all unfold. It's a very powerful tool in this game and can get you out in a pinch. The shooting itself is mediocre. Weapons never feel all that powerful and somehow just feel off. Ammo runs out constantly and you can end up weaponless a lot of the times in a hot firefight. At least the level are well laid out enough for you to find adequate cover and plan your attack.

There's really not much else to the game outside of shooting. You move from fight to fight pressing switches or finding intel. The game is a bit on the cinematic side and the opening sequence is pretty awesome. Once your back at HQ you can walk around and talk to people, start side missions, and upgrade your squad and loadout. You get the same death penalty as in Enemy Unknown. A completely leveled up squad member can be lost in battle if you don't revive them in time, however the revive time is way to quick to pass. It's not enough time for someone to go across a battleground and save someone. This becomes frustrating since leveling up takes so long. When you do choose squad members you can choose from Snipers, close combat, medics, and various other classes. This mainly just determines their skill tree.

I also found it annoying that weapons are slow to unlock. 25% through the game I only found a few weapons and two alien weapons. There's various other blueprints or tech you can find to turn into other things, but it's not as deep as Enemy Unknown. What's here is solid fun, but it gets repetitive and boring quickly. Every battle turns out the same, you get the occasional boss fight but it just gets so monotonous where there would be more substance. The game looks pretty good on PC, but looks very dated on consoles. It's nothing special, but the attention to detail on the Cold War era atmosphere is pretty awesome and engaging.

As it stands, The Bureau is a solid shooter that takes the tactical RTS gameplay and puts you in the driver's seat. The atmosphere is well captured and the skill tree system makes battles easier, but the frustration of perma-loss when a squad member dies is excruciating. The overall combat can get dull and repetitive early on with nothing in between.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2013
Growing up back in Staten Island , NY I had a friend of mine show me a variety of games on the PC. One of the games that he loved to play was a game where you had to travel around the world and battle aliens that were bent on conquering earth. The game was called X-Com and recently it has made a comeback with such great games as X-Com Enemy Unknown. Now the folks over at 2k games have released The Bureau: X-Com Declassified but is this one file that you will want to read?

Instead of this game taking place in the future it takes place in the past back in the year 1962. The bureau of strategic emergency command was created to help protect it's citizens from enemies that were not of this world. You take on the role of William Carter and you are charged with stopping an invasion of aliens that are making a foothold on american soil. You are sent out into the field with two other agents that have their own powers as they make up one of four classes: Commando, Recon, Support and Engineer. Each of these classes have their own powers and you can use these via Battle Focus mode. During this mode time slows down considerably as you can command each of these units to use special powers, mark targets and outflank the enemy all in real time.

As with other games in the X-Com series your agents can be damaged during combat and they will need medical attention if wounded severely. If one of your agents does not get the help that they need within a certain amount of time they can die during the mission. And once a character has died they are gone for good (meaning that you need to recruit a new agent). This forces you make tough calls on the battlefield as you want to get all of your agents home safely and not get them killed recklessly in combat. You will also be able to research new weapons and technology that you will get off the aliens in each mission.

The best thing I love about this game is that it is set when the bureau was starting to take off. It is set in the 1960's and the tech might seem primitive but with some good decisions you will be able to eradicate the alien threat. For more information on this game go to [...] and get ready to fight against the alien invaders.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2013
The characters and dialog all make sense and the game mechanics are Smooth and seamless, no glitches, every action is perfect, it's as-if the Makers of Bioshock also made this game.

I'd say Game Play, Weapons, User Interface, ect are 5 out of 5.

The Story-line and dialog are interesting except near the end where suddenly Carter starts going off the rails and losing his mind with NO CONSEQUENCES. This is where the story doesn't make sense. (SPOILER ALERT) Director Faulke allows Carter to continue service despite him murdering an alien 'Athereal' for seemingly no reason (we the users know but The Director does NOT). Agent Carter is obvious showing signs of psychosis, but everyone treats him normally. This is completely out of character for Carter and makes no sense if you convinced the Athereal to not try to destroy all humans. It seems like they MEANT to make an alternative story arc but perhaps didn't have enough time or money.

(SPOILER ALERT)Near the end, Carter then alerts the aliens to you and gets either Faulke or Weaver killed and they want to 'hold him' but give you the choice whether to kill him or not, and they want to hold him? It's the end of the world and he's almost ruined humanity's chance at survival, gotten one of the main heroes killed, turned TRAITOR and alerted the aliens to you, and they want to 'arrest' him??? The story makes NO SENSE AT ALL.

AMAZING GAME PLAY! Terrible Writing, except for the parts about Big Government completely hiding the Truth of what happened. There is NO Story Arc where you allow the Aliens to peacefully integrate into society and that is sad, because it also makes NO SENSE. There were HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of aliens and NONE of them managed to hide on earth? NONE of them evaded capture? It's either a massive writing oversight or it's a deliberate hatchet job by someone.

The Story Arc literally makes no sense from a writers stand-point. It looks like someone took an ax to it and the story was the leftover pieces...
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