on 30 January 2013
It was the year 1994 the the original masterpiece was released, XCOM Enemy unknown developed by Microprose.
The original game featured strong resource and base management and strong tactical gameplay.
The player was able to buy/build ammo,medkits,tanks,weapons, sacking soldiers or scientists or engineers.
The player was able to build multiple bases with different tasks, being a research base with a focus on labs, a manufacturing base or a scout base.
The player had also the task of building bases in a way that they could be defended because the aliens could also decide to attack your bases, and if you lost all of them, game over.
The alien race was one on his own, they built bases all over the geoscape, send ufo to do different missions and even decide to attack your bases, it was not scripted, it was completely random.
The soldiers all had stats, all importants and the stats grew for everything the soldiers did.
In other words the game offered plenty of replayability because of it complete randomness and very strategic gameplay, speaking of which you had complete control over your soldiers, shooting down walls to flank aliens without receiving reaction fire was common, free aim and the shot colliding with walls and object(screwing your perfect aimed shot) was what made it addicting.
Fast forward to the end of 2012:
As of now software houses really took to themselves exploiting intellectual properties and old classic game to "cash in". We have plenty of examples : WH40k Space marine, Wh online, age of conan just to name a few.
Firaxis had this genius idea: Let's remake XCOM. Which is a great idea. The problem is that this game shares only the name of the Original game, i'll tell you why:
You start with 1 base and you end with 1 base, you can build with even less space than the first xcom so you can't really go with what you want, it's basically Engineers, Engineers and more engineers with some scientists here and there. Your base cannot be attacked, you cannot buy ammo or important things like proximity mines, smoke grenades, high explosives and tanks, you cannot hire scientists or engineers(they come with buildings and abduction missions's rewards).
Your radar always picks up UFO so there's not much improving in that way by buildings multiples radar systems.
Basically ALL the micromanagement of a strategic game is gone, leaving you with a scripted game revolving around choices and little replayability on that side.
You cannot send more than one craft after the ufo, unlike the OG where you could tail the UFO until all the craft were ready to engage and start great fights against larger ufos
This is completely changed, your soldiers are without personality, they have been reduced to HP,offense,willpower. That's it, they grow after a promotion and they get skills like some stupid mmorpg, because apparently throwing smoke grenades requires different training than throwing frags.
So you don't have soldiers with loadouts, you have meat bags with defined loadout, a sniper will always be a sniper, you can only carry one item, so if you get a medkit you cannot carry frags, if you attach a scope to your weapon you cannot carry frags.
The maps are not randomly generated, you fight the same map in china,india,mexico, after a while fighting becomes a chore, you do the same moves every time because the spawns do not change.
Speaking of which, the spawns are all clogged up, the gameplay relies on flanking your opponent, sadly if you do that you trigger another alien group because the maps are so small that the aliens are close to each other.
Also for some retarded reason the aliens cannot be ambushed, when you spot them they activate and run instantly to the most convenient full cover.
Time units have been replaced by a move & shoot system, you have to actions per soldier, you can move and shoot, you can move 2 times, or you can shoot or throw a grenade. It makes for a chess game where the AI cheats indefinitely and where you are able to constantly miss 97% hits.
A word on aiming, the games does not allow you to free aim anymore, you can only aim at enemies, stripping the game of another tactical element.
The panic system is completely broken and badly implemented, you can literally lose a battle because panic for some reason makes your soldiers shoot each other which causes even more panic. Now i don't understand why a soldier would shoot his buddy, but that's the game.
3)The bugs: I swear i have never seen another product so bugged that it ruins the experience, which is already flat due to being completely scripted in every part of it.
We have the Teleport Bug, it consists of aliens teleporting next to your squad and shooting you down.
We have line of sight bug, it consistes on flanking an enemy and not getting the flanking bonus or even seeing the alien even if you are 4-5 tiles away from him, because there is either a body on the ground or a ladder near the wall.
We have the falling alien bug, an alien decides to fall below the terrain and dies in a gray screen, you have to restart the game because it remains stuck on ALIEN ACTIVITY phase.
Sometimes your soldiers will dash even if you move to a place where you obviously are not supposed to be dashing.
We have problems with hit chances, missing 97% shots like it was 50%, there have been reports of people missing 100% shots(read the forums if you don't believe me).
It is a showcase of what xcom was about, fighting aliens, that's that, the way the game is developed is an insult to the gaming industry, when in 2012 you can shoot through walls killing the soldier behind but leaving the wall intact you can tell there is something definitely wrong with today's developers, especially when it was done in 1994... almost 20 year ago they were able to develop more complex and complete games.
If you run multiple playthrough you will notice that EVERYTHING that happens is scripted by a monthly basis.
I don't even want to rate this game, and i dont' recommend you buying it at full retail price until they fix the bugs.
All in all, another horrid remake.
on 19 November 2012
As a massive fan of old school Commodore 64 game "Laser Squad" I had my fingers crossed that this would be a decent update of that type of game and I wasn't disappointed.
Played through it twice, "game over" on the first attempt despite my experience with Turn-Based Strategy games of this ilk, second time around I was more cautious but still found it a challenge.
There are two game modes, Primarily there are the missions, starting with your squad of four (this can be increased as you progress) battling Alien invaders in a variety of environments, which are affected by gunfire and explosions, using a top-down rotatable 3D viewpoint, inside fixed arenas (you can't just go anywhere, the areas of play are set) - great fun, a good update of the old school 8-bit style. Then there is the XCOM base between missions (most of which seem to be generated randomly), where you spend your accrued funds on improving the ability to foresee Alien attacks, or your fighter jets and squads' abilities to deal with them.
It is this part of the game that has the greatest effect on the experience, if you concentrate too much on building up your troops' armour and weapons, you may miss the opportunity to "scan" and subsequently defend different areas of the planet. When countries do not receive enough support from you, they withdraw from the project, you lose funding. However, not taking certain missions means not receiving enough scientists or engineers to work on the project and subsequently build up more armour, weapons and devices that assist you in defeating the Alien invaders.
It is this catch-22 that will keep you coming back, on my second play, I deliberately focused more on this aspect of the game and fared much better, but now I am at the stage where doing so has tipped the balance another way and countries are still withdrawing. Too many leave and your project is cancelled, game over.
So yeah, if you are into project management and chess-like strategy with a nice sci-fi twist, this is for you!
on 12 November 2012
This game is the best attempt at a new XCOM game for over a decade now. Its a lot of fun, and a definite Buy if you were a fan of the originals, or general turn-based combat and strategy games
- Retains turn based tactical missions, that well balance preparation/skills and an element of luck.
- Story unfolds in a nice fashion, interspersed with random missions to make every game unique (though a little cheesy)
- Balancing monetary outflows, while keeping countries calm is still a challenge.
- Very effective port to console controls, meaning that its immensely enjoyable on a console, despite it being tactical and management based.
- added elements of bonuses from blocs of countries.
- Chrysalids are still scary and annoying.
- Still massively addictive.
Cons (or rather elements of the originals I miss)
- limits the use of the black market to only Alien artifacts, removing the ability to self-fund by manufacturing new tech.
- mission maps, though still randomised, seem to be less random than the originals.
- have reduced the base management aspects of the game, e.g. no stock management, no space management for soldiers or scientists.
- Prices have been reduced to silly levels (I just imagine every number having '000s after it, but still its annoying).
Bring on the sequel - TFTD!