62 of 66 people found the following review helpful
Absorbing, but unforgiving,
This review is from: XCOM Enemy Unknown (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)I was a big fan of the original Microprose XCom release, and keen to see what the 2012 update would bring to the table. As with a lot of games, this is a mixed bag. The tactical RTS side of XCom has been massively face-lifted, and remains a difficult and absorbing sub-game in its own right. Most of the tactical skills from the original are transferable, but there's also been some notable changes. As noted, a lot of the "micro-management" has been removed, and it's not all for the better - e.g. if I wanted, I could load up a trooper with any combination of weapons they could carry. 12 grenades ? If you want. Throwaway 1-shot rocket launcher ? Sure. This is all gone in favour of pre-selected loadouts with only moderate customisation. For example, only "heavy" soldier classes can carry heavy weapons, and nothing else. Support classes carry assault rifles & pistols, and nothing else, and so on. If I want to load-up on grenades, well, you basically just can't, and only the support-class can carry more than 1, and then, only with the "deep pockets" perk after several promotions. If you want to pack a med-kit or a stun-gun, you can't carry grenades anymore - and so on.
Base management is also very different. You no longer have total control over the base's inventory (largely because this is no longer needed with the aforementioned pre-selected weapon loadouts). If you want more engineers, you simultaneously need to build workshop space for them and they come bundled with the facility, and, if necessary, build power generators beforehand to power the workshop, or you can't build the workshop at all and- it can all get rather needlessly complex. Further, early in the game, it's very easy to find yourself chronically short of cash, which has knock-on effects later. The tutorial also doesn't help much here, largely forcing you down a particular path to potential financial ruin early on (i.e. it doesn't emphasise that you earn cash by building & deploying satellites over supporting nations, and instead forcing you to build an alien containment/interrogation facility which is kinda useless early on - you don't have weapons or armour to safely try capturing bad guys.).
With that said, the tactical combat is difficult (as a veteran, I started on the "classic" difficulty level) which makes winning all the more satisfying. There are also some new twists to the combat. Weapons are tied to their alien owners, so if you kill an alien, whatever weaponry they were carrying self-destructs, leaving you only with fragments to research more slowly over time. Getting an intact weapon requires you to stun and capture it's wielder, and that's stupidly dangerous early on in the game. On the plus side, while weapons still need to be reloaded, troops now have infinite ammunition (except grenades & rockets) and you don't need to worry about supplying it in the loadout. Another huge change is that your squad is limited to at most 6 troops on any mission, whereas in the original game, you could have as many as would fit inside your Skyranger and you could be bothered handling.
In all, thinking about it makes you consider it to be a mixed bag, but, I started playing at the weekend, blinked, and a couple of hours had gone past in what felt like minutes. I'm enjoying it, anyway.
EDIT : Finished this, playing on and off since the original review was posted. I'd be surprised if I've put less than 20 hours into a single campaign, but I did feel it was all becoming a bit of a chore towards the end, so replayability will probably be limited. In all, I can see how some people feel it's been dumbed-down, while I think that to some degree it's been streamlined in some ways. I encountered a few bugs over the whole playthrough, only one of which was semi-fatal. The game needs some rough edges filed down - there needs to be an "overwatch all" button, and the graphics go annoyingly mental on the multi-level UFOs, changing your vantage point and sometimes, where you think you're pointing. The semi-fatal bug occurred on the end-game level, where I couldn't progress until I found & killed the last bad guys, which was tedious. The end-game itself as a whole is pretty disappointing too. Terror From The Deep, anyone ?
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Mar 2013 18:01:27 GMT
Prof TBun says:
I seem to remember in the original version, that the odd brainy alien would hide quietely behind a chair, so that it was near impossible to find.
In reply to an earlier post on 14 Mar 2013 14:34:50 GMT
Christopher Burns says:
I think this was just a simple bug; without spoiling the final level, it plays out in a sequence every time, and if one part of the sequence is interrupted, it doesn't move on to the next. Annoying, it was.
Posted on 24 May 2013 12:34:06 BDT
K. O'Leary says:
Good review. I loved the first game and still believe it is one of my top ten all time favourites.
Although this is head and shoulders above other "re-vamps" of the original game, I also mourn the loss of many of the management options. I loved the fact that in the original game you could pick items from the ground. I also agree that the pre-selected load outs are no where near as much fun as the freedom you had in original game - a highlight of the missions I thought. I specifically enjoyed managing the ammunition, if your units didn't take enough they could end up making a last stand with side arms. All this was very satisfying and is missing from the new game.
I much prefer the "creepier" feel of the first game too - it has now changed to a sort of blockbuster roller coaster ride, even the music is strongly familiar to the recent Batman films. This is a definite step backwards. And I haven't been playing long, but it seems to me that I am nearing the end - this is extremely disappointing if true.
In reply to an earlier post on 24 May 2013 12:39:02 BDT
Christopher Burns says:
I found out on Steam I actually played through 39 hours, which is quite a long time to be doing anything, really. However, I was basically doing it to accrue cash/weapons and a highly-levelled-up squad, and by about hour 20, it was all starting to get a bit of a chore and I wanted it to be over. If nothing else, it is decently long.
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