Top critical review
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A classic, reborn.
on October 28, 2012
We are all familiar with disappointing remakes; from movies, to video games, even to political parties. Oft times it seems as if those who were given the privilege of retooling and a cherished IP, didn't appear to "get it", or cherish it in the first place, like many a high school student's book report. When I heard, and even read, about the new contender in the XCom franchise, it immediately dropped from my radar. The franchise has a horrid record at doing just that, missing the point. The videos and reviews seemed to point at the same. Oh, to my surprise, how much have those who are responsible for this welcome addition, "got it".
Turn based is back! This is one of the few most recent remakes of a turn based strategy, who didn't push to real time, or some hybrid wacky real-kind of, but not at all turn based (see Jagged Alliance) messes. From scanning the skies, to boots hitting the ground, this feels like XCOM.
One of the most noticeable changes was in the inventory system, which was replaced with a simpler equipment system - instead of picking items up in the field, making remove for that alien corpse you always wanted to lug around, now you equip a primary weapon, a secondary, and one or more additional items, and armor. There is only one round of weapon for a gun, instead of being able to choose HP, incendiary, or standard ammo, for example. While it is not the same as the original, it doesn't detract from the game, and I believe makes the game easier to get into, and less of a bean counter feel.
The game has a similar look and polish of the recent simplified Civilization game, by the same developer. Menus, for example, aren't just a bunch of text, instead you have rooms, and structures that represent the areas you are working with.
This game is so much fun, however, there isn't really that much replay value. Once, as I've done, you get all weapons and knowledge, it's really all the same in another play through. The number of stages where you do battle are pretty limited, even in one play through they repeat a lot. Near the end of the game, it feels like the end of the game - it seemed, for me, that all things felt like they were wrapping up - I completed all science, all constructions, all founder work - you can do -everything- in one play through.
As another review pointed out, the fit percentages are wacky. While it will say greater than 50% on chance to hit with a weapon on a target, it will, most of the time, feel like 0%. I've never seen a miss at 100%, however. Another problem is that you can shoot through indestructible objects, such as five walls, or the side of a tank. It's not horrible, it simply is something to get used to and say, "really? Why?"
My biggest complain are the defects. I've had graphical defects where a creature mesh will be leaning like MJ in Smooth Criminal, the game will indicate that one solider can see an alien, and yet, there isn't one... ghosts, perhaps? My squad will be hovering several feet in the sky, sometimes slowly approaching the ground every time I enter and exit the menu (doesn't affect game play, just graphics). Then, however, are the more serious bugs. I've had the aliens turn (indicated by Alien Activity), never end (I waited over 5 minutes, where it normally takes 5 seconds). I had to exit the game and reload, to which it only, again, took 5 seconds. I've had the game freeze on me (requiring me to hard reset the system by unplugging it, the first time I've ever had to). I've had the indicator to move a solider, however, I could not, nor could I do anything else except move the camera around - that required a soft reset. And there have been many other bugs, usually requiring a soft reset. More than I've ever had in any other XBox 360 game. Deal breaker? Not really, annoying? Heck yeah! I don't think they will get fixed, which is a shame, and very slack on the makers.
Would I recommend this game, yes! Especially if you are a fan of the original XCOM. The fact that the producers backed a game that hasn't tried to break it's own formula too drastically to pull in a new audience, is commendable! After a recent game purchase for a sequel was an incredible and unforgivable failure (RE6) this game has done well to respect the franchises original fans in producing a game that looks and feels like the original.