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on October 9, 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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on April 12, 2014
I love the 60's aesthetic of the game. The wardrobe, the environments, the fact that when you run into NPCs on a mission with a lot of dialogue your NPC companions break out their smokes, and lean up against the wall to take a break while you're talking; Little flourishes like this make the game enjoyable from the outset.

The story is nothing great; it's just something to chain the action sequences together (and that's fine). The voice acting of the major characters is up to industry standard as well, though some of the disposable NPCs and recordings you'll find are not very good.

I've never played Mass Effect (which I am told the mechanics of this borrow from heavily). I enjoy the concept, but I found the control to be very clunky in combat. The cover/shooting works about 75% of the time, but you end up in very tense situations where they fall apart. Like tying major functions to the same button with only slight context cues as to which it will perform at any given moment: Trying to run away from an enemy bearing down on you? If you don't use dead-on sniper-like accuracy, you just as likely to stick to a wall, or hopping over the wall towards the enemy you were trying to get cover from. Similarly you might want to take cover, but find yourself simply running at the surface. If you get frustrated and start spamming the "take cover" button, if you finally do engage the wall you'll hop over it. Some surfaces just inexplicably won't let you take cover, and some low walls will have you "take cover" but will leave you standing up/exposed instead of crouching down. Some tall walls just decide they don't want you to shoot around a certain corner either.

Other interactions have similar awkwardness to them: if you jump down from a slightly higher surface, you will stand there and do nothing for a few seconds while getting shot at. It is very frustrating to have these kinds of things in a tense gunfight.

Your companions were nice for their ability, but they expose themselves too much and need constant babysitting. Flanking is difficult because they keep following you and don't like to be more than 20-30ft from you. Even if you give them another position to run to, they'll run there and then run back to you.

I actually played this game on the second-easiest setting (The bad reviews were a warning that I'd want to get through it as quick as possible). Your average encounter was boringly easy (my fault for the difficulty selection), but there were some that were ridiculously hard. The last encounter in particular took me about 5 tries to get through. Also, the game pulls lots of cheap shots like enemies teleporting in. Sometimes you take up a defensive position only to have them spawn in right on top of you leading to a complete party wipe in about 2 seconds. A lot of the difficulty was because of the combat mechanics discussed above. Losing because I made poor decisions or was too slow to make them is acceptable; Losing because a half-dozen very different actions are tied to the same button is less than fun.

The game is...dare I say it...too long. Either that or it just paced and placed its climaxes too awkwardly. I thought it was going to end like 4 different times, and it just....kept....going.

The graphics (including art direction) and audio are great. The game just felt like certain pieces were highly polished, and others were hastily tossed in and no one over tested them. The concept is solid, but it's a shame this one got released half-baked.
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on May 6, 2014
I'd be irritated if I paid >$20. But I got it on sale <$10, and at the price I find this an okay game with a nice visual look and setting that needs to be used more in games (possibly even exploring themes and issues from the 60s era, although this game does work them in somewhat, like Red Scare, McCarthyism, aliens among us, and exploration of "alternate" identities). This game doesn't go that far into those themes and issues though; it's more like a slightly smart/political spy thriller movie in this regard--more about the action, but enough attention to the issues that at least it can't be accused of being blind to them completely. As for the gameplay, fairly repetitive, and at times frustrating b/c of AI and UI. Mass Effect does the squad-action shooter-rpgish gameplay better. And, well, I swear, years-old Republic Commando did squad AI much better (could just be nostalgia filter).

I'm not even accounting for the XCOM-tie-in, or the letdown after the early hype--I can understand why people would be pissed, but I found it decent enough in an alternate-fictional-history sense. But I'm not counting that in the stars-score above. This game stands on its own feet/merits, but there's not too much game there, or replayability.
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on January 6, 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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on March 9, 2014
I love strategy games & the regular XCOM games are some of the best ever created. This is a departure from the XCOM franchise. It was never meant to replace the series but some people knock the game because they think it was trying to do just that. It's just a spinoff of the XCOM franchise with more cover based and action gameplay. Think Mass Effect meets XCOM & you'll have a pretty good idea of how it plays. I loved the 60's Sci-fi setting, it offered some pretty cool scenarios & lent itself to some fun storytelling but don't think because it's in the 60's that you only get to use weapons available from that era. During missions you can obtain alien weaponry and technology schematics that allow for really cool upgrades & customization. You'll definitely want to take your time & scour the areas looking for them because the game does offer up a decent challenge & if you're not paying attention or have underpowered weapons you may find difficulty progressing in the game. Overall I can't recommend this gem highly enough!
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on March 24, 2016
Hmmmm... I've just clicked "4 stars" for this review, but I'm umming and ahhing over whether or not it should be 3.

Grrrrr... OK, I've changed it to 3.

I've been a big fan of the X-COM series since 1994, when, as a stupid child, I would while away hours staring at the back of UFO: Enemy Unknown's big cardboard box in a department store. That game (a year later when I actually got it) was my introduction to turn-based tactical combat (although Civ 2 had already broken my strategy hymen). So it was crushing when XCOM: Alliance was cancelled (even after the relative disappointment of XCOM: Apocalypse).

So I was pleased to fire up The Bureau: XCOM Declassified and find a smooth, playable, third-person shooter with an interesting aesthetic twist.

Actually... I'll just change that back to 4 stars.

The setting isn't quite used to full effect as it is in games like Mafia 2, but it still sets the game apart from other similar titles, like Gears of War.

Ugh. And I didn't like Gears of War. Back to 3 stars.

Yes, it's basically a cover-shooter, but there are some interesting twists in the gameplay mechanics. Well, not THAT interesting. But, without wishing to spoil anything, they add variety to the solid gameplay, and the story does keep rolling forwards at a surprisingly good pace.

Hmmm. OK, 4 stars.

The difficulty is pleasantly challenging, too (whatever hardest setting was available at the start was what I used) - I think that any easier would have been too easy, really - EXCEPT FOR ONE BIT. There is one timed section of the game that I had to retry several times, and without my DLC Plasma Pistol, I really don't think it could have even been possible. Really. Which is a shame, as that encounter aside, the difficulty was pitched very well.

Hnnnngh? Down to 3 stars again...? No, I'll leave it at 4 stars - but with the caveat that this game is NOT a ground-breaking game like the original UFO, nor is it a fantastic refinement like the recent XCOM: Enemy Unknown (+ Enemy Within). It's not a classic like Dark Souls, nor is it a deep, engaging RPG like The Witcher 3. It's a decent cover-shooter with a good plot and solid gameplay, and if you can get it for $5, it's worth installing.
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on February 25, 2014
well i never really liked xcom because i like only the shooter type games,not much into strategy much,just shooting and blasting,ha..i know why xcom made this game,they wanted a game to attract all types of gamers,adding bits and pieces of all other top name games and putting it all together for this game,its a shame all the haters tore down the idea,but let me say its great,i love mass effect and this is just one game of many which is much the same,except the era..its sad to see a developer close up after making such a wonderfull game for gamers but the haters ruined the sales,i tried selling a copy on ebay for a week without a sale..terrible shame because i love playing it as im sure others would as well
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on January 21, 2014
I bought this when it first came out, I really loved XCOM Enemy Unknown and was hoping to spend more time in that universe. This game's premise is much different - "Mad Men with aliens" is an apt description. The story overall didn't stand out to me, but I still enjoyed much of the flavor conversations with different characters as you progressed through the story. The gameplay is not unlike Mass Effect with the third person shooting and abilities, however, I did feel the action got repetitive as I progressed through the game.

All in all - if you enjoy the universe and like the setting/premise, it's worth a quick playthrough but it definitely doesn't have replay value for me.
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on November 10, 2013
Very cool mix of action and strategy. I wish the difficulty levels weren't so skewed tho. It basically goes from easiest, to easy, to insanely hard to impossible. A normal hard level would be appreciated. But gameplay is satisfying and graphics are top notch! Def recommended.
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on April 3, 2014
If you are an Xcom fan as I am, this could be a let down as it is very different from the other Xcom games (which are among my favorites). If you are not a fan of Xcom, I would skip this title. There are much better cover shooters. I enjoyed it but mainly because I knew what I was getting into and enjoy the Xcom universe. Wait for a good sale.
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