XCOM Enemy Unknown Review

The X-Com series dates back to the early 90’s – I still remember the hours I spent on X-COM: UFO Defense… In fact, the game is considered by many to be one of the greatest (if not the greatest) strategy games ever developed. With the randomly generated maps — concept of fog of war and line of sight — getting shot at from nowhere — permanent death — and that fantastically good music that so fit the mood of the game, it’s no wonder many still play it, almost 20 years after it was released.

There’s been many efforts to remake/redo the game, with how far computers have come since then, but no big game companies decided to take it on, until now, and I do believe I’m in good company when I say that Firaxis really have a winner on their hands…

First the box — this is the special edition version, so you get the artwork book and a nice insignia thing. I appreciated the artwork book, especially when they showed some of the original designs and the updated ones — it’s really amazing to see how far things have come from the early 90s, in terms of the capabilities of computers. Poster was nice too – but that’s all just fluff to me. If you’re downloading it, be prepared to wait: there’s 2 DVDs in the box, so that’s around 13-14 GBs of data. Well worth it.

There’s already tons of reviews and videos out there about the gameplay, so I’ll stick with some lesser known ones, for some pros and cons:

– I really like the addition of new mission types — the original only had terror, crashed UFOs, landed UFOs, and alien bases. The new ones adds VIP retrieval, bomb disarming, and I believe one other one (turns out its target extraction – there’s a difference between it and VIP — usually, in target extraction, whoever you save actually joins your team). This helps to shake things up, as the old one tended to get repetitive, especially once you researched heavy plasma. Shoot down UFO, send in soldiers, blast away those pathetic alien scum with some heavy plasma, clean up: wash, rinse, repeat. Now, things can still get tense — even late in the game.
– The soundtrack really stands out to me. Music really has an ability to heighten moments and situations, if done correctly. The original did an amazing job of capturing the creepiness and emotion that danger really could be behind every corner — and they did it again. Major props to whoever did the sound/music on this one.
– Multiplayer: this one your mileage may vary with. Me personally – it’s nice to sometimes play as the aliens. It’s also pretty interesting to see how others react in a given situation (some choose to barge, some choose to flank, some choose a decoy, some choose stealth) — everyone reacts differently. It’s also nice to know I’m not the only one who accidentally dashes instead of just moving to get a better shot.
– Medikit: thank you for allowing me to heal the soldier who carries the medkit. If anyone remembers the original, it was a PAIN to have to heal your guys. Had to be facing them — couldn’t heal yourself (had to drop it (throw it) – have someone else pick it up, then use it. Make sure you don’t run out of time units. Ridiculous) It gets a whole lot simpler now. Thank you 2K.

Verdict: 85/100

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