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XCOM: Enemy Unknown [Online Game Code]
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133 of 145 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2012
I pre-ordered this game on the strength of its demo, and I have not played the first game. So I'm approaching it from scratch. As a fan of strategy games, I like the idea a lot, and it's a fairly elegant combination of base management and tactical turn-based combat. Here's some pros and cons from my point of view:

Pro's:

- Customization: Of course lots of games have character creators these days to let you customize, but it's nice to scale that up to allow customization to every one of your soldiers. You can name your soldiers after your friends, celebrities, historical figures... whatever you want. Then you can do your best to make them look the part, probably not something everyone does, but I find I'm more attached to soldiers I've customized and thus more careful with them. (Though I still don't get why character creators have about 30 facial hair options without a single handle-bar mustache option, what gives?)

- Balance: Squad balance becomes very important as the game goes on. I generally end up with a sniper, a medic, a heavy and three assault troops. But playing with other configurations can be fun. My all sniper missions generally met with less success than my all drone missions, but there was fun to be had.

- Panic!!: This is the main strategic factor that helps you determine where to put your satellites, and which missions to do when there's a choice. I like this a lot, and really it's the only thing that gives the game replay value. The way panic situation plays out will determine which countries fund you as the game goes on, this determines how large a welfare check you get at the start of the month (You are given money once per month, based on which countries are actively funding you), how many scientists and engineers you have, etc. I also like that the choices aren't always easy. Say you've got very high panic level in South Africa, then they give you a mission where you get to choose to help France, China or Nigeria. France and China may be higher panic than Nigeria, and none of these choices are going to help South Africa directly, but if you don't pick Nigeria then panic goes up in EVERY African country... which may push South Africa over the edge.

Cons:

- Bugs: I hate docking for bugs because there's every possibility that these will be fixed by the time you're considering buying the game, but for now there are some bugs. I'm not talking about RNG-rage where you sit there and say "oh that is BS!" as one of your soldiers dies (though that definitely does happen). As other reviewers have noted, cover is sometimes bugged at this time. A perfect example is a situation where you have a soldier in cover, and across from you there is an enemy in cover, with no-man's-land between. The helpful icon on the screen shows a solid red alien face icon, which means you can shoot at an alien but they are in cover (reducing your chance to hit and crit). So, to make your attack more effective, you charge the alien, get behind his cover and wait to see that alien icon turn yellow (indicating you can shoot an alien who is not behind cover from your angle of attack) Well sometimes that just doesn't happen, there's nothing covering the alien, but he still gets the defensive bonus, your attack maybe hits him but he lives, next turn he shoots your now exposed soldier, crits and you're writing a letter home to explain to Mrs. Dash that aunt Jemima was killed in combat (Sometimes i named soldiers while hungry)... it's frustrating. There are other bugs that don't let you click on mission devices to use them. I've only had one crash, not a huge deal as it autosaves each turn.

- Repetition: In terms of mission type, we've only got 5: 1)Kill all aliens, 2)Extract VIP, 3)Defuse bomb, 4)Rescue Civilians, 5)Clear UFO/Base (Which is really a glorified 'kill all aliens' but 5 sounds a lot better than 4. Nothing really wrong with that, and arguably there's just not a way to make more creative mission type. First playthrough, I ended up doing about 60 missions, that got pretty tedious.

- Inventory System: I know, anytime someone starts griping about inventory it just seems whiny, but there are legitimate issues here, especially late game. By the end of the game you will probably have a lot of soldiers you use. By this point you will have ranked up a lot of soldiers and you may rotate some in/out of the squad based on the mission and their individual specialties. But high end equipment gets expensive, so you'll want to share armor and such. You may find yourself in a situation where you have to play a game called find-the-titan-armor. This is where you have to clear a soldier from your squad, add another soldier in his or her place, and see if they're wearing your very expensive late game armor (so you can have them take it off and put it instead on whoever you wanted to bring along). It shouldn't work like this, it should just be that all of your equipment across all of your soldiers is selectable when equipping a squad. Captain Crunch isn't coming on the mission, so I don't need him wandering around the base with my plasma rifle that could be used by Colonel Sanders on this mission.

- Panic!!!: I'm not talking about the country panic level described above, I'm talking about panic within the tactical-turn-based part of the game. Sometimes, when fighting horrible alien things that shake your faith in everything you've been raised to believe, you get a little scared... this is understandable. But I just think this mechanic is poorly executed, basically, when things go wrong in the game, sometimes your soldiers will panic. When panicked, they will perform a random action and be useless for a turn. That random action may be a harmless 'hunker down', it may be a friendly-fire incident that crits and kills your sniper named Wesley Snipes, or it may even be a random lucky shot that kills the alien that made your soldier panic in the first place. I just think the idea of a super-elite-multi-national-fighting-squad is inconsistent with someone panicking at the first appearance of zerglings... I mean, really? I know it's terrifying... but we all played starcraft, time to man up

Thus we have my review. I do enjoy the game, and I've put 70ish hours into it already, but the flaws are enough to make it a frustrating experience sometimes.
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76 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2012
Hello Commander, and welcome to XCOM: Enemy Unknown

This is a game I have been following very closely for months after I learned of its development. I have very fond memories of the original game which I had until now still pulled out and played every couple of years for old times sake.

So how is this newest iteration? In short, it's pretty good and a lot of fun. Easily the best turn-based game of the year.

Now, I'm going to write this review in comparison to the original game that any 'old time' gamer has likely played as it was massively popular during its prime. The biggest mistake people who have not followed the development of the game make is assuming this is just an HD remake of the original. It isn't. It's a re-imaging, which means they took the concept and made their own game around it. Same world, most of the same aliens, a lot of the same weapons, but implemented in a new way.

All of the old mission types are still in this game, with the exception of one which is base defense. In its place there are a few new mission types: Bomb Disposal, VIP Escort, and Abduction. The ending is also different, there is no Cydonia, but I won't spoil it for you.

Bomb Disposal you have 3 turns to reach the bomb and disarm it before it blows, but there are power nodes scattered on the map that each one you reach will give you an extra turn.

VIP Escort you either have to find the VIP, then bring them back to the Skyranger or you start at the VIP and must fight your way back. As the VIP moves across the field, new aliens will jump in and must be killed immediately or there is a good chance the VIP will die.

Abduction missions are a simple deathmatch (kill all aliens) but ... they come at you three at once and you can only choose one to complete. This game is all about forcing you to make hard decisions. Each mission offers a different reward (§200, 4 Engineers, 4 Scientists, or a veteran soldier). Another factor is world wide panic, completing an abduction mission will reduce panic in that country, while the other two will increase in panic (along with the continents they are on). More on panic later, and also decisions.

Combat:

The 'Battlescape' is where combat takes place, you field a squad of 4-6 troops for each mission. Fans of the old game may cringe that this is half, or less than half, but they make up for it in that each troop has a class. Assault (up close and personal), Heavy (rockets and machine gun), Support (medic/buffer), and Sniper (Long Range). Every class has a skill tree so you can customize how they specialize. The trees are not all that deep, only two choices at most ranks, with Squaddie and Major only offering one choice (their signature abilities).

So does that mean your guys are super soldiers instead of easily one shot killed fodder? Nope... While they can do far more than the original game soldiers, they will still die fairly easily to mistakes. Combat in this game is heavily cover based, while the original game had no cover. No cover? None at all, it had concealment and there is a difference.

Geoscape:

This is now referred to by the developers and the community as the ant farm, and is a cross section view of your base as the main screen, while in the original game the main screen was the globe. Here you manage your base, manage your soldiers, manage aircraft, manage research, and manage manufacturing.

While you only have one base, you do have 4 other interceptor bases that you need to station fighters in to protect your satellites. Satellites are your radar, they are needed to detect UFOs. So, in the old game you build new bases to expand radar coverage and get interceptors in range. In the new game you build satellites to expand coverage and assign interceptors to continents to protect them as the aliens can, and will, attempt to destroy your satellites. Satellites are VERY expensive and take a long time to build, protect them with your life. The loss of a satellite will instantly max out panic for that country, and increase panic for the entire continent. It is VERY bad news.

Intercepting UFOs is a little different, instead of choosing how close you want to get you instead can use one time use items to boost your aim, dodge, or time to intercept. You will not get these immediately but must research and build them. You can only send a single interceptor at a time, unlike the original game which let you send multiple ships for larger UFOs. Honestly, this part of the game feels under developed, they could have done a lot more with this.

Money is extremely tight in this game, and there is no way to 'game' the system like in the old game and build up a manufacturing powerhouse that can fund itself even if the funding nations pull out. You will need every funding country you can get! This forces you to make a choice of what to build because you will never have enough money for it all until late game. And you are so limited you pretty much only get a single choice per game month in the early stages. Choose well!

The ant farm is also where you manage panic levels. Each country has a panic meter, and if it is full at the end of a game month that country will leave the council. Loose 8 countries and it is game over, this is the only way to lose the game. There are many ways panic can rise or fall. I'll talk a little more on this in the next section on difficulty. In short though, panic will rise faster than it falls and satellites are necessary to have any sort of control.

Difficulty:

The game comes with 4 modes: Easy, Normal, Classic, and Impossible. In addition you can enable an optional setting called "Ironman" which will not allow you to make custom save files, you only get a single auto-save. In Ironman Mode there is no undo button when you make a mistake, you must live with your choices good or bad. You can still quit the game and load up your save, you just can't hit the reload button if you get your squad killed.

Easy and Normal are both frankly fairly easy. You'll be punished for mistakes in Normal, but the game scales itself back big time with a dumber AI and limiting the number of aliens you will fight at any give time. If you stumble upon too many, it will have a group fall back into the fog of war.

Classic however is a real kick in the pants. It was played up as for experts of the original game ... but even so you will get dominated most likely. The difference between Normal and Classic is massive. Not only do enemies have a little more health (you would be surprised how much a single hit point can change things), but the AI is fully unlocked, there is no limit to the number of aliens that will attack you, and they have better aim and critical chance. You may very well learn to fear the simple Thin Man alien that has insane aim and crit chance. Your troops are more likely to panic as well. The loss of a veteran squad of troops can very well mean the loss of the entire game as your rookies will be hard pressed to survive without anyone to support them. Honestly, this game is far harder than the original game.

The other challenge with Classic/Impossible is managing panic. On these upper difficulty settings panic rises faster from failed missions and abduction missions. You will likely lose some, probably a lot of them, and the best you can hope for is not losing more than 7 before you finish the game. That said, on Classic it is possible to save them all, but this partially depends on luck for where Abduction missions occur. It is speculated that on Impossible it literally is not possible to keep panic low enough to play forever, the only way to win is to finish the games objectives before too many countries bail on you. The 'strategy layer' (Geoscape/ant farm) may very well prove to be far more difficult for you than the tactical game.

For you X-COM vets out there, swallow your pride if Classic kicks your butt, and give Normal a go until you learn the new games mechanics. I know I had to.

Graphics and Sound:

The game uses the Unreal engine, so graphics are on par with that. I think they're pretty decent, but they will not blow you away. The music and sound effects are both good, you still get that creepy feeling as you hear aliens moving around in the dark wondering if they'll wander onto your guys while they're all out of ammo or if you have another turn to reload before you find them.

PC requirements for the game are fairly low so most should be able to play it if they have anything about the integrated HD graphics that comes with the intel i series (i3, i5, i7).

Controls:

This may be the only sore spot for PC players, the interface isn't the best and clearly was designed around console controllers. You can change key bindings, but until you learn the interface it can be a little frustrating. The use of a gamepad is fully supported (and probably easier to play with).

Multiplayer:

I can't speak on this as I have not played it. What I know though is there is only a Deathmatch mode, no co-op or objective based multiplayer. A game is set up with a set 'point' pool and a time limit for turns. You then 'buy' units with your points. If you would rather, you can set points to be unlimited and make the best squad possible (of course your opponent will do the same). You can use both humans and aliens in a mixed squad, or go all human or all alien. For humans you can customize their gear and select a perk package. The perks are not individually selectable.

Play Time:

The play time for this game is fairly short for a strategy game. Around 15-20 hours of so for an Easy/Normal playthrough if you keep trucking along and don't reload your game every time something bad happens. For Classic, add 5-10 hours. You may say this is short in relation to the old game, but keep in mind that people have beat the old game in under 10 minutes. The times I give are for a fairly complete game, it's possible to finish it faster, and it is also possible to keep playing for as long as you like (provided you can keep panic under control).

Conclusion:

The game is pretty solid. The game does have its fair share of bugs. There has been one patch so far, but it only fixed a few issues known before the game came out. I have in my 52 hours of playtime encountered one game stopping bug. I was able to recover from it, but not without some cost to my game. The bug involved my interceptors and I was forced to dismiss all of mine from one of my bases which resulted in a UFO getting missed and a satellite destroyed, ouch! You may or may not want to hold off doing Ironman (mine was) until some patches if you want to play it safe.

Be careful of a lot of false rumors out there, for example IGN was unhappy that aliens were all static and didn't patrol around. Well, I can account personally on how false that statement is. They can and do patrol! Depends a lot on the mission type you are one. Some groups are static (don't move) while others are dynamic (they patrol). The council missions are all static (VIP and Bomb), while Terror missions are all dynamic. The others are a mix of the two.

The game is highly rated, and it deserves it in my opinion. This is a game I will continue to play many times as I try to at least beat Classic Ironman, if not Impossible.

Steam is required no matter what PC version you get (digital or physical) so be aware of that. It employs a one time online activation, after which you can put steam into offline mode and continue to play. You may install it as many times as you want, on as many computers as you want. Of course, you can only play on one at a time.

Good Luck Commander!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 19, 2012
Like many reviewers here, I was a huge fan of the original 1994 XCOM game. It was truly lightyears ahead of its time and just the perfect culmination of sci-fi storytelling and thousands of finely-tuned gameplay design decisions that just made the game so much fun and immersive. It took months off my life and contributed to some poor grades in high school and college. 2K had very high expectations to live up to and for the most part, the reboot is successful. I'm glad for that because it could've gone horribly wrong and become a giant letdown (ahem.. Duke Nukem). It brings the graphics and gameplay into the 21st century (Unreal Engine) while retaining the spirit and vision of the original. Overall, it is worthy of the tremendous legacy that is XCOM while standing on its own two feet as its own unique experience. By no means perfect (because of some awful bugs and the removal of several key gameplay aspects), but still very much fun and I've already lost 3-4 hours of sleep a night to it since I bought the game.

Because this game was designed primarily for consoles, many many of the interface elements have been severely stripped away or over-simplified. I'll talk mostly about the annoyances because the gameplay and fun stuff you can read about elsewhere. The download is 1.5GB, so be prepared to wait several hours for it (3.5 for me over cable modem). Installation afterwards is very quick however. I ran it on a HP Pavilion dv7-7010us 17.3-Inch Laptop (Black). Cranked up to high on all graphics settings, the game was still smooth as silk.

What I didn't like is the first level tutorial which I didn't know was skippable until reading forums. In it, 3 of your 4 squaddies die. When you start a new game, consider checking off the tutorial box.

Next is the annoying chatter from the NPCs, especially Dr. Vahlen who can't decide if her accent is German, French, or British. The voice actor for her is terrible. This isn't a big deal as it has no effect on gameplay. I just wished they'd gotten a real German person to do the acting.

Movement is confusing in the new XCOM. Both games limit how many squares you can move during your turn. The old one had time units explicitly spelled out as a bar as well as numbers in the HUD, and you can reserve some time units for shooting with a button toggle. The new one just has a segmented arrow indicator. You also can't group select to move all squaddies. Gotta move them one at a time. Sometimes the camera is extremely problematic and defaults to the wrong z-plane (elevation), especially when inside of UFO's. The hull of the UFO will sometimes be cut away (but then dead aliens will still show up floating on the roof). Sometimes not.

I HATE the no inventory system in the new version. You can only have 2 or 3 items which you must assign to backpacks before the mission, forcing you to choose between a medkit, grenades, stun gun, and a scope. In the old one, you had multiple slots and you could fully load out your squaddie with as much as he/she could carry. The penalty, of course, being that this slows down movement (reduces the number of time units available). The old game had ammo clips, adding another layer of strategy to the game, forcing you to budget ammo (take single shot, or multi-shot?) or scavenge. The new game has unlimited ammo, but the reduced inventory is not fun. You can only carry 1 or 2 grenades (if you level up and take the upgrade). That also means you can't pick up items from dead squadmates or aliens like you could in the old game. The ability to pick up spare grenades and alien weaponry at will was a key element of fun in the old game. You could even pick up dead aliens, stuff them in your sack and walk around to build up strength. The new one you can't.

No free-targeting. You MUST have an alien in your line of vision in order to shoot. You can't just shoot whatever you want. This is a severe lack. The old game let you shoot doors, walls and barriers to destroy cover and expose aliens. This one doesn't. While cars catch fire and blow up when aliens shoot at you and miss, you can't return the favor if they're hiding behind cars. You can't shoot cars.

Terrible market mechanics. Periodically, a nation will send equipment requests which reward you with money, scientists, or engineers if you fulfill. The old game let you manufacture and sell equipment to generate a source of income. Enemies very infrequently leave behind intact weapons. When killed, their gun and grenades shatter. WHAT??? But it doesn't matter since, you can't sell weapons.. only alien corpses and UFO parts. But you need these parts to research and build things, and they fetch only 1 or 2 credits each, so there's really no point. So, the items you don't need, like antiquated tech, you can't sell. Go figure. So, there is almost no way to make money in this game, if you are short on funds. You have to wait until the monthly stipend.

Very limited customizability of squaddie appearances. You can change the face, skin color, hair and head shape, but they all pretty much look the same. This is really boring and I had hoped to be able to make some really unique looking squad members. No height, body shape, uniform color. I also don't like the overt nation flags plastered all over the squaddie UI menus or on the backs of their suits. Yes, flags are sewn onto the back of each squaddie's collar!

No concept of friendly-fire. Shots just go through squadmates if they're in the way. In the old one, you could accidentally kill a team member with a stray shot, or if they are in your line of fire. Sometime shots go through walls due to clipping problems.

No ability to hire scientists or engineers. You get them as monthly rewards from nations, missions, or by building the required workshop or laboratory. You can hire soldiers but not scientists or engineers. What?? Not that it really matters. You can only have one base. The original, you could have maybe 6 or 8.. basically a base and interceptors at every major world region.

These are just some of the things that frustrate me and I don't know why Firaxis decided to change these mechanics that worked so well in the original. Don't break what ain't broke.

Worst of all, however, is a bug that renders the game unplayable. Sometimes the HUD completely disappears when you're back at base, making it impossible to do anything except quit the game and reload. SAVE OFTEN! On several occasions, after returning from a mission, I found that all my squad members had turned into men. Somehow, their appearances all got changed to the same character model (same face, hair, etc). Reloading solved it. Two of my squaddies are permanently wounded and unusable until Firaxis fixes this bug.

Graphics are as good as I expected, with some weirdly Halo-looking weapons and monster designs (Brutes... erm... I mean mega-mutons.) Maps all look the same, regardless of what country. Firaxis claims to have several hundred hand-crafted maps, but I'm on my second play through and I see the same maps again and again. The VIP extractions are the same map every restart.

I do like that saving and loading is very quick. Overall, there's not a whole lot of load time and most of it's hidden with transitional animation or a narrated briefing. Bewilderingly, Firaxis decided to make F10 quick save and F11 fullscreen/windowed toggle. You will hit this F11 many many times by accident, I assure you. It may sound harsh or overly longwinded to list out all the flaws, but really this is a fun game, and would've been vastly more superior had they not made these changes. I doubt that Firaxis will change any of the gameplay mechanics with a software update, but a guy can hope.

I've finished the single player campaign. I abandoned my first game because I progressed too far towards the endgame goal too fast, following the mission objectives. It feels really short and very rushed. The tech tree is super short. I ran out of things to research very quickly. The old one, tech research was a BIG BIG DEAL and it took forever researching multiple branches in order to unlock all the dependencies of creating a new weapon, vehicle, or item. I liked this challenge. In the remake it's a breeze. They made it even easier with research credits that you earn by capturing live aliens. They half your time. So most of my things took 2-4 days to research.

In sum, still a fun game, but owing to the console pedigree, many of the things that made XCOM fun are dumbed down. Console games typically target 40 hours of gameplay, so I think that is to blame for most of the negative impact of these design decisions. There's no real reason to play the game again, as there are no unlockables of any kind.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2012
[PC Version]
TL;DR
For X-COM fans this is a respectable re-release of the original (as opposed to a sequel) - and worth the money. I rate it somewhere between 3.5 to 4.0 stars - this is definitely not 5.0 star material (even as a fan). I would rate the original 80's game as 4.3 to 4.8 (for relative comparison to this). Most of the penalty comes from the lack of base defense, one-base-only setup, and annoying storyline.

Unfamiliar with X-Com? This rendition is a friendly and addictive *turn-based* strategy. It's worth trying (demo available on Steam) before you lay down the cash.

------

For the X-COM veterans:
+Most of the game is a modernized re-release of X-Com UFO defence (sp). This is not a sequel so relax ;)
+The X-COM "feel" is still there - many core mechanics are present (definitely not all)
+Typical X-COM "Awww @#$^ you gotta be kidding me" situations. You know, the ill-timed alien grenade that lands right after the LZ. The ethereal "chain mind @$^%" stuff is gone. I know, I miss it too (Psionics is still in the game)
+New mechanics that genuinely add to gameplay (grappling suits, suppression fire, cloaking, soldier specialties, country-specific bonuses, etc.)
+Mostly bug-free - no significant issues with the initial release (do a bios update with AMD FX CPU if you crash)
+Added difficulty/challenge - strategic dilemma quests. Saving one country often leads to the loss of another. Perfect, clean games are a little harder to pull off early on.

-"Consolfied". Dumbed down for console play, increased pricing. This includes overly simplified controls, dated graphics/sound. Not a problem if you're playing on a console, naturally.
-Omitted/missing core game mechanics. Removed crouch/kneel, base defense, multiple bases. The worst aspects are the removal of multiple bases & base defense. The time unit system is still present per se, its just been simplified.
-Some minor bugs with Nvidia PC graphics. Clipping, flashing, and other anomalies (Nvidia). If you played the 80's game this is no real issue. Probably fixable with a patch (running latest Nvidia driver as of 10/10/12).
-Collision and line of sight issues. Firing through walls (not as a piercing wall shot. Difficult sometimes to mouse target a different elevation for movement (texture flashes, target location ends up being for the lower elevation, etc)
-Annoying dialogue and upfront storyline. The "UFOpaedia" feel isn't there. The original encyclopaedia-type story line was more enjoyable with its subtlety.

-----

I was a big fan of the original and even liked Apocalypse (the rest ranged from okay to just plain bad). 5 stars is a disservice to other buyers as much as 1-2 stars. Where it falls between 2.5 to 4.4 stars depends on you of course. Fans of turn-based strategy and the original X-COM will probably lean towards 4. Enjoy!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2012
There's an entire generation of gamers in the world right now, of which I am a part -- most of whom are in their late-20s to mid-30s -- who spent many of their teenage hours playing a quirky little game called X-Com: UFO Defense, and its immediate sequal, X-Com: Terror from the Deep. (The two were functionally identical in nearly every way, except that your first-generation weapons didn't work on terror missions, which kinda sucked.)

We loved that game. It was brilliant, simple-to-learn-yet-hard-to-master, and... well, you got to shoot down UFOs and gun down aliens, man! What more do you want!

And then, technology outgrew the game. We were given a long string of bad sequels and cheap spin-offs. Rare was the game that captured that same feeling (Master of Orion 2 is another in this category -- oh how I will lust after the true remake of THAT series, but anyway...) Why we loved X-Com is hard to say. We simply did. It had a quality to it that was hard to describe, but that any X-Com fan knew within minutes, whether it was there or not. So we waited, wondering, would Enemy Unknown have the spark? Would it be X-Com?

I think it is.

Some purists may disagree. Many, many changes have been made. Small squads, one base, in-your-face cut scenes. Each soldier is quickly shuffled into one of four roles (Assault, Heavy, Support, and Sniper), and from there determines what weapons, skills, and value they give to your squad. As each soldier gains experience, they gain access to more advanced skills, but the choices you make are permanent.

Soldiers are restricted to two weapons (a primary and a backup) and two utility items. But the original X-Com never remembered what equipment went with which soldier, and it's difficult to keep any rose-colored sunglasses on when remembering the lengthy mission-prep times, or not killing that last alien so you can run exhausted soldiers back and forth to build up their stats.

As you begin your early missions, the scientists and engineers will gradually learn more, and a greater array of tools will become available. You will also be given guidelines to kill or capture alive certain species of aliens in order to advance the plot which will, I assume, (haven't gotten there yet myself) culminate in a mission to Mars.

I like that you are required to make difficult choices. At regular intervals, aliens will attack, but they'll attack in several locations at once. You can respond to only one. The country you help will be grateful, and increase their support. The countries you ignore, will fall deeper into panic, and eventually pull their funding entirely. As time goes on, it becomes impossible to keep every country happy. This gives weight to your decisions, and the game changes quickly as you must determine exactly where your priorities will lie. Great fun.

However, some things do annoy me -- soldiers no longer stop mid-move upon spotting an enemy. This leads to occasionally running into certain death when, really, just about anyone would stop the moment they kicked down a door and immediately meeting two Mutons and a Berserker (who enjoys punching soldiers in the FACE). This results in taking baby-steps across areas of the map you're quite certain are clear. I suppose that's realistic enough, but if you're going to say "It's realistic for small-group combat teams to advance slowly!" then I respond with "It's also realistic that they'd stop running forward as soon as they turn a corner and see four them with guns!"

Another irritation is the fact that the camera has a difficult time staying put when you are inside a structure, and I've lost more than a few soldiers who jumped down into a room of aliens instead of taking cover because the camera shifted levels just as I clicked "Go here!" You cannot tell a soldier to fire blindly, or to shoot at aliens he or she cannot personally see (though you can train snipers with that ability). How many original X-Com games featured players crossing their fingers hoping that some cross-map shots would connect and save the life of a hapless soldier?

I could nitpick, but the only question that really matters is this: Does this game feel like X-Com?

I have a memory of being 14, and loading X-Com into my families old 486 (I think I had to delete Loom and Monkey Island 2 to make room). I finished the installation, started the game, chose the location for my first base, and my family didn't see me for a week. Earlier this week, I downloaded X-Com: Enemy Unknown, sat through the install (while watching YouTube), started the game, chose the location for my base, and I haven't seen much of my wife since.

Changes were inevitable.

It isn't perfect.

But this feels like the X-Com I remember.

And that's all I've ever wanted, really.

Good hunting!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2012
Although I purchased XCOM: Enemy Unknown to play on my PC, I'm extremely happy that this game was released on consoles as well. This is the exact type of game that is needed in the console landscape...a turn-based strategy game that puts a huge amount of responsibility in the hands of the player, yet does so in a way that is accessible and easy to get into.

XCOM: EU re-imagines the classic and beloved PC strategy game for modern audiences. You assume the role of the Commander of XCOM, a secret, international group that rises to the challenge of repelling an extraterrestrial invasion of Earth in the near-future. In this role, you serve two major functions: overseeing the development of XCOM's base, and directing small teams of soldiers in direct combat with the alien hostiles. The base building and development is the part of the game that will take the most getting used to for newcomers to the strategy genre. You are in charge of every detail of XCOM's operations, including what scientific research is conducted, how soldiers are trained, what new gadgets and tools are engineered, and what countries you will protect, as you seek their funding and assets in exchange for protection. Once the initial shock of the overwhelming nature of your role settles, you'll appreciate how well put together this part of the game is. The interface and menus are very easy and quick to navigate, and your team of advisers will always be there to help guide your decisions. It's incredibly satisfying to watch your base develop from a small, desperate group of teams into an incredibly powerful fortress of technology, weaponry, strength, and innovation.

The combat segments of the game will likely be easier for newcomers to pick up, but will also eventually prove to be incredibly challenging as the game progresses. The game shares many characteristics with RPGs, as you assemble squads of soldiers of various classes, each with their own skill trees that are filled as the soldiers gain experience in combat operations. The combat, despite being turn-based, is extremely intense and exciting, as the prospect of your beloved soldiers dying in combat, never to return, constantly hangs over the battlefield. However, similar to the base-building portion of the game, winning a major battle against overwhelming odds never ceases to deliver huge doses of satisfaction. This is especially true of the way the combat directly ties into your research projects back at the base. That alien you managed to capture alive rather than kill? Your interrogations of that creature helped develop a new ability that you were able to teach your soldiers, which ended up saving their necks in the next huge battle. XCOM: EU is filled with moments like this, and it makes this game one of the most satisfying, addictive, and purely enjoyable games of 2012.

XCOM: EU was perhaps a risky game to make in today's climate. Fans of the older PC game may call this a simplified or watered down version of their beloved title. And the game may appear to be too complicated for console gamers who have been playing games that have, by and large, gradually been becoming more and more simple as the number of gamers worldwide continues to multiply. But I believe that both groups would be wrong in those assumptions. XCOM: EU is one of those rare games that does very little wrong. It is unique that given its incredible depth, it manages a level of accessibility that actually makes it a very welcoming game for any open-minded gamer out there, whether they be a newbie or old school. It's refreshing to see a game like this hit both the PC and the console platforms, and I sincerely hope we see more big budget projects like this in the future. This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite releases for 2012. It is deep, challenging, and rewarding in ways that few AAA, multiplatform-released games are nowadays. Give this game a chance if you're on the fence, and let these publishers know that we want to see more stuff like this in the gaming landscape. You won't regret it.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2012
Like the NYTimes magazine list of weekly things that are just "meh", X-com doesn't notably fail or succeed, it just does a workaday job of updating the franchise and exercising some patent/trademark rights for some corporation. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't make it a bad game, it even flirts with the "just...one...more...turn" aspect that all the great 80's-90's turn based games are known for, it just doesn't break any new ground... at all.

A simpler X-Com for a simpler format (And a simpler audience?), it gets a fair number of things right and even fixes some problems with the original x-com titles, so kudos to the dev team for that. Here's a quick list of pros and cons, with no spoilers:

Pro:
Classic X-Com, turn based game with enough of the bells and whistles to keep a veteran x-com player satisfied (not a FPS! thank goodness!)
Clean, simple UI for fast turns and more action
Destroyable battlefield, yay!
No more hour-long searches for the last alien hiding in a corner of the map
Great look and feel, map varieties are challenging and un-repetitive.

Con:
-Simplified *everything*;
-Squaddie characteristics no longer random (and there are only a couple now, will and aim), loses that RPG aspect, thrill of "rolling a 20" and getting a great recruit
-Lost position-choices for defense/aim: Kneel/Prone/Standing now reduced to just "hunker down" action on defense, no way to increase your aim.
-AP system gone, replaced by move/shoot (or just shoot) turns, which makes no sense: If any unit has enough time to move and then shoot, why can't my guys shoot and *then* move? Seriously that's a major mistake.

Meh:
-Weight allotment (and the stat of STR) replaced by hard-coded slots for 4 items: Armor, weapon, sidearm, misc. Meh.
-Rush AI in effect, since there's no shoot-n-scoot (just scoot-n-shoot), but it does make for a faster turn. Meh.
-Research chain for many items is shorter, fewer upgrades to items and aircraft. Meh.
-Aliens in general are just less effective at everything: Psi, shooting and tactics.

In short, nothing about this game is really new or noteworthy, except its release date. So... meh.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2012
To start off
Do I like Turn based games -> Yes
Have I played the Original Xcom? -> No

So, not being an original Xcom fan, I can only merit this game as it is. Visually, the game is pretty. Graphics were amazing and the maps so far have been a lot of fun. The aliens seem unique and the AI seems decent to pose a challenge. The customization given seem plenty, with what to research, to weapons loadout, but not too much to overwhelm (This is where the original xcom fans are finding "streamlining" being bad). To me, it gets me to the action faster, and when I have limited time...well that suits me just fine.

As for steam, started downloading it last night, went to sleep. Woke up and started playing. No crashes as of yet since playing on steam.

The game play itself is more enjoyable then what I thought it would be. I find myself going "oh yea", when my sniper head shots an Alien or when I rocket launch an area, incinerating a part of the map...with an alien inside it. My take on it...if your a die hard XCom fan - you may feel the game fails to meet the original. If your not, this game is a treat and well worth a look.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2012
First, I will start with what I really liked about the original UFO: EU and how I considered it different form similar games like Jagged Alliance or Silent Storm. UFO was a strategic goal-driven organization-centered game with tactical combat rather than character-centered story-driven game with tactical combat like Jagged Alliance or Silent Storm.

That made the game more generic, your decisions were driven by a need to save the planet rather than for your favorite buddy character to survive. If a mission was so important that 90% losses were acceptable, well that is what had to happen. You made strategic decisions, not personal decisions.

Also, UFO was far more generic than the other games, more broad and with far more unforgiving enemies (because survival of every single soldier was not that important and thus allowing for very different tactical approaches.

The new X-Com game feels far more like Jagged Alliance than UFO: not a bad thing if you like Jagged Alliance style tactics with a UFO background story, but if you were waiting for THAT level of tactical bliss - it is not there...

The small unit (4-6 soldiers) makes proper tactical sweep still possible due to small map sizes, but very, very tedious as you can move very little at the time: if you want your team to be secure and ensure leaving only clear areas behind.

If you want to be secure in all directions AND have fire backup in case one of the guys gets shot, it gets even more tedious...

Lack of time units actually makes the whole thing counter-intuitive, your actions lack precision. Moving from point A to B can take one time slot, or two, if you click too close by mistake and need to correct. You cannot really estimate who can do what, you basically do what the little outline on the ground tells you to do... Which I guess was the point of "streamlining".

Also the requirements of the small squad are that a person can take a head-shot from a plasma gun and be perfectly fine... So the sense of dread is just not there - it is more like Jagged Alliance where you know your "unique characters" cannot die unless you do something really, really, really stupid, because, well, they are THE characters. And if they die, you are playing the game wrong, because they should not.

In the UFO if your strategy assumed 50% attrition, well that was horrible, but hey, if you could do it, you could do it, there was no wrong way to win the game...

XCOM is kind of like Jagged Alliance: there is only one right way to do things...

So, should you buy it? Luckily, there is a demo and it will give you the right feel of how the game works... I would not want spend 50 Euro on it, but I was perfectly fine with it as a gift... Believe it or not, I actually liked UFO: Extraterrestrials better. Sure it was not as pretty, but the math was mostly there - and Bman's mod made things quite OK.

Also: why no XP? The game works with DX9 framework, there is no reason for it to NOT work on Windows XP...

So that's it: I don't really hate it and I don't really love it. I guess I am a little bit dissapointed that 90% of the development resources went into graphics rather than math. The game is competent, but nothing like "Wow! They really improved on the old UFO ideas!"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A remake of an early-90s classic, 2k and Fireaxis's "X-COM: Enemy Unknown" certainly does its predecessor proud, innovating and refining the series' classic gameplay.

X-COM: Enemy Unknown is, in short, a game where you run an organization defending the earth from alien invasion. The game's single-player mode is in essence a long-term campaign of survival consisting of two major aspects. The first aspect is "strategy": you develop a base, research technology, recruit and equip soldiers, and monitor goings-on in the world.

Compared to the original game, the remake is somewhat lackluster in this field - for example, the original game allowed you to build your base bit by bit, and aliens would periodically invade the base (thus making layout an important game concept). However, most of that aspect is done very well. Choosing which projects to research and how to allocate your funding are important decisions, because while there isn't a hard time limit, the longer you take accomplishing objectives, the worse things will get. There are even some more personal touches - you can see your soldiers exercising and chatting in the base when not on a mission, and there's a memorial for any fallen soldiers as well.

When an incident pops up - a UFO is spotted, or alien abductions are reported - then the game switches to the "tactics" mode. Tactics mode is a grid-based, turn-based system wherein you command up to six soldiers (taken from a larger pool, as replacements will become necessary as soldiers die or are wounded). Most missions are simply "kill all enemies", but periodically scenarios will arise with other goals, such as protecting a VIP, defusing a bomb, or rescuing civilians. Combat is fluid and well-executed: units have two actions per turn, and once an action is taken it can't be undone. Line of sight is very important, as there could be hostiles around every corner. Therefore, every move must be executed with care.

The wide variety of enemies also means that you must be prepared for anything, and losing at least a few soldiers over the course of the game is inevitable. It's a uniquely tense experience, especially on the longer missions. It's more than just a tactical military game - in its own way, it's also sort of survival horror.

One of the most interesting parts of the game is the optional "Ironman mode", wherein there is one auto-updating save file for that particular runthrough. This means that it's impossible to save and load manually, preventing someone from saving before a mission and then loading the save file if things go south. Whatever happens, you have to deal with it. It's a great concept and turns the game into one big, long survivalist exercise. Every decision you make affects that playthrough. If you lose a bunch of your troops, you have to either tough it out or start over. It's certainly not for everyone, but I really appreciate the option being there.

The game's graphics and sound are a compromise between the overt cartoonishness of the old X-COM and a more realistic, futuristic aesthetic. The sound design is underplayed yet memorable, with unsettling tracks that you might not overtly notice but still do an excellent job of setting the stage. From a technical standpoint, the game's problems lie not in design or concept, but rather the abundance of minor bugs that exist - cinematic scenes that last just a bit too long, or glitchy cursors making it difficult to select a different space. However, these are relatively minor, and can be patched - as a whole, the game is just about perfect. X-COM: Enemy Unknown totally deserves a 10/10.

We purchased this game with our own funds in order to do this review.
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