X-COM: Enemy Unknown – Not a Review

I have X-COM and it’s glorious. (As a reminder, yes, I do use the hyphen as twas intended by God itself.)┬áThat screenshot up there? The one where you can’t hardly make out any detail because it’s zoomed so far out? That is beauty. Dear Bioware, when you release the next Dragon Age, if I can’t pull back on the camera like I can do here, then you have utterly failed. I don’t care if the story is the second coming of… uh… something really good, but not as cliche to list here as Lord of the Rings.┬áJust say’n.

Oh, right. X-COM. Ahem. It’s going to be awhile before I’m comfortable reviewing the game, so in lieu of that, I’m going to offer this quick impressions post and then, in forthcoming posts, document my progress, diary style, as my crafty crew of squaddies face off against gruesome death and dismemberment at the hands of an alien menace bent on world domination. Woo!

To set a baseline here, I think there are generally two kinds of X-COM players: Those who like the light strategy and emergent storytelling that the series hangs its hat on and the deep strategy folks who like wide open spaces they must navigate, moving carefully forward, spending hours micromanaging every facet of their squad. The original X-COM had a way of sating both these crowds and there’s nothing wrong with either track, but this game was built to appeal to the former much more than the latter.

Like any good alien-smashing squad, let’s take this point-by-point, starting with the stuff that will likely bother some folks…

The environments do feel confined and, I’m not sure, but I suspect there’s not any randomization to them at all in terms of terrain, alien, or squad placement. (EDIT: I’m largely wrong about total lack of randomization. It’s not as random/expansive as UFO Defense, but environs in Enemy Unknown are sufficiently random here to ensure you’re never quite sure what you’re walking into.) A sectoid isn’t going to gun you down from behind the moment you step off the Skyranger. Generally you’ll first sight aliens in a pack together and, by appearances, only then will they react to your presence and start setting themselves up. I’ve only done about nine missions, but my sense is you will always have a chance to set up before walking into a trap. This is a stark contrast with the the original game where such things not only happened, but happened with frequency. The narrow battlescapes of Enemy Unknown will bother your hardcore strategy people. If what you want, however, is to start a mission, have it feel tactical, be capable of surprising you, and let you wrap up it in 30-45 minutes. You will be very, very happy with this. The game is not plastic or scripted. It’s just not as expansive as the original.

The squaddie customization is surprisingly thin. I know they want international flavor, but not being able to change the gender or nationality of a squaddie sucks. There is precisely zero harm in letting a player put together an all-female squad or an All America FUCK YEAH squad, you know? When I can change a squaddie’s name, face, armor color, etc., not being able to edit gender or nationality is annoying. (And for a game so focused on having international flavor, for all the voice sets to be stunningly American is rather lame.) So Brandon is now French. Matt is, I think, German. Roberto (our friendly neighborhood Guild Wars 2 NHS guild master) hails from Egypt, which is almost like Brazil, except totally not. Etc. It’s a little thing, but it’s a little thing they should patch. (I do like that squaddies have to earn nicknames by reaching the rank of sergeant. Bill doesn’t just get to be The Straw.)

That is all rather superficial, I know, but what will grate on some players is the loadout options. Each soldier (barring specific class upgrades) has a set of armor, a primary weapon, a pistol and an auxiliary slot that can be used for med kits, grenades, stun guns, ets. From a realism perspective, it breaks credibility that a SHIELD-like fighting force of ultimate bad-asses can’t carry a grenade while wearing a protective vest (or, for that matter, that they can only carry one grenade). From a tight, refined gameplay perspective it forces you, in a good way, to consider each squad member’s loadout without making you spend a half hour just gearing up. It’s very easy to get your entire squad loaded for bare, mission over mission. It’s much harder to know the ideal loadout. There is still strategy to it, just not the kind you’ll spend hours and hours honing. As a guy who cannot devote my life to playing a game anymore, I dig that. I understand, hardcore folks, why you’d be put off. (Hey, there’s always Xenonauts to look forward to!)

I’ve only gotten through a month and a half of in-game time, but the process of managing X-COM is incredibly well done. All the elements X-COM vets will remember from the first game are there. You research in labs. You construct new facilities and equipment in workshops. You have to keep everything powered. You gear up your crew and craft. You check budgets. Set priorities when determining UFO coverage areas and whom to help when multiple mission options are available at once. And you sell excess items and materials when you’re strapped for cash, a decision that can come back to haunt you.

There are oddities and elements that are over-simplified and sometimes the game doesn’t tell you what you need to know in a timely fashion. I found out the hard way (after research and manufacturing), for example, that these protective vests my scientists came up with can only be equipped in the same augment slot that you would otherwise use for grenades, stun guns, med kits, etc. Had I known that, I probably wouldn’t have made five of the damn things. Complicating that, you can no longer sell equipment you manufacture so now I’m just stuck with them.

In the original game you could carry on multiple research projects based on the number of scientists you have. Here it’s just one at a time, though the research speed changes based on available resources. Conversely, you can build as often as you want (pending available space and money) with your engineeers without them being tapped out. Projects do have a minimum required number of engineers to build, but let’s say I have 10 available, I can still build two projects at once even if one of them requires all 10 to build it. Evidently they multitask better than scientists.

The point is, there are some odd choices (that are likely done as they are for balance reasons), but the elements are all there and they all work well in concert with each other. You’re still making decisions. Loads of them. It’s just streamlined enough, however, to make it feel like you’ve got everything under control and you don’t need a notebook sitting next to you to keep track of everything you’re doing.

Finally, there’s the most important element: Squad-level tactics are absolutely aces and, as a result, Enemy Unknown is rife with wonderfully emergent gameplay. In a recent mission I had advanced on a group of sectoids and floaters (my first encounter with the latter). I had taken out the sectoids and caught three of the four floaters in a well-placed rocket shot from Lt. “RocketMan” Castillo (that’s a default name and nickname). There was one floater left, having taken a position above the field of battle and just waiting in overwatch mode for a squaddie to come out from cover. My sniper had a clean shot at him, and she hit, but the floater still had a point of life left on it. This is an ideal time to go for the stun and opportunity to interrogate the beastie back at HQ.

RocketMan has my ARC stun gun and can get close enough in one move to use it, but if I send him he’ll surely be shot in the face because Mr. Floaty is in overwatch and is just waiting for the opportunity to put a guy in the morgue. Pretty sure I heard somewhere that getting shot in the face is generally bad. I need to get the floater to blow his shot before I move my man in, so who’s going to play bait? Why, hello there Sgt. “Wolfox” Amorim. Why don’t you run out there and see what happens? It would work, except I’m really not into getting my guys killed. We here at X-COM HQ frown on that sort of senseless loss. But, you know, just across the way sits Lt. Binky. The man I was sure would be killed first has been making a name for himself in the support class, a class that features a smoke grenade. With one move into nearby cover he can toss that thing between Wolfox and the floater to provide extra cover.

Now, understand, I had no idea if this would work. None. But it made sense, right? Binky tosses the grenade in a prime location between Wolfox and a strong cover area on the other side. I direct Wolfox to go. The Floater sees him in the smoke and fires, but is unable to hit. With the floater now helpless, RocketMan is able to run up and knock the sucker cold. Mission success! Everyone gets out alive. (Well, Squaddie Thrower will be in the infirmary for a couple weeks. Jesus, man, walk it off already! There’s no room for pansies in this crowd.)

Old. New. Hyphen. No hyphen. This is X-COM. It wasn’t scripted. I had an idea. I had the right guys, in the right position, at the right time to try it out and my little soldier avatars executed it flawlessly. Binky could easily have missed with the smoke grenade. The floater still could’ve capped Wolfox, despite the extra cover. And there was a 15% chance RocketMan would miss on the stun. I had no idea what might happen.

When a plan like that comes together, it makes for a great gaming moment. And the great part of that equation is that every single time you take your squad out on a mission, X-COM affords you a chance to have that moment. Or your squaddies will totally cock up your brilliant plan and your strategy instead collapses in on itself like a dying star… But that’s the story of another mission. (*sniff*) This is the game’s genius and that is why, streamlined mechanics or not, I’ll be playing it for a long, long time to come. (Yeah, yeah, barring unforeseen bugs, overly repetitive gameplay that hasn’t stood out yet, etc. Stop with your nay-saying and let me enjoy the moment.)

Well done, Firaxis. Well done indeed.

EDIT: These impressions are based on the PC version (purchased on Steam). I’ve been playing at Normal difficulty and not on the hardcore mode that restricts ability to save.

 

 

55 Responses to “X-COM: Enemy Unknown – Not a Review”

  1. Michael Barnes October 11, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Grizzly death? You mean there are buh…buh…BEARS?

    • Todd Brakke October 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

      Damn straight. Bears are aliens. Always have been. And they’re coming for you, Michael.

      Also, everyone, it’s our esteemed Mr. Barnes’ birthday today. Let’s all wish him a happy one, free of malevolent alien bears!

      Also, also – fixed. :)

      • Michael Barnes October 11, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

        Thanks! It feels good to finally be 18!

        • coyote_blue October 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

          It’s all downhill after 21, kid.

        • rhamorim October 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

          Happy birthday, Mr. Barnes! Do you want some Chryssalid cake? We have some left from yesterday’s authopsy session.

          No? Well, your loss. This cake is great. It’s so delicious and moist. ;)

          • Michael Barnes October 11, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

            Thanks, I’m busy eating jellied eels and rat skewers. I’ll take you up on that next week.

          • rhamorim October 11, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

            Rat skewers! Yummy!

            Swarms of living rats, on the other hand, tend to invert that part of the normal food chain, you know. Stay away from them, because they seem to like soylent green in its unprocessed form. ;)

  2. Mark E October 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    I love this game.

    If you want to get eaten alive, go to classic difficulty. They make it clear at some point that aliens do not hunt you, but as you go up in hard levels they do.

    Also toss the tutorial after doing it once. That locks out South America/Africa and forces you into some crap research. I got eaten alive on classic/ironman and after the world was burning I went back to normal. Much more reasonable at the start. I love the different abilities squaddies get as they level; suppression fire is genius.

    • Todd Brakke October 11, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

      I almost went with classic difficulty, but doing the diary thing, I wanted to actually survive long enough to have more than one entry. Next time I’ll try that.

      I don’t think I’ll ever do Iron Man mode, however. I don’t want to lose a guy because I accidentally clicked the wrong square or issued a command by mistake. It’s also a bad way to start when you’re still learning the game, like how you can actually still get shot while in cover or that overwatch means don’t run in front of that dude. Not that this happened to me. Noooo.

      I think the tutorial is good for getting your feet wet (as you said, doing it once), but yeah, after that ditch it. Much too restrictive and it goes on for awhile (longer than the demo).

      • coyote_blue October 11, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

        It would be easy to say that mis-clicking comes standard with that sort of interface, but I played the demo and I kinda thought the UI was wonky, too. The lead designer uses a bunch of hotkeys, and that may have contributed to the weird button placements, and so on. I wouldn’t play Ironman with that UI, either.

        I’ve been playing Ironman on PS3, and it’s working fine. Lee Adama bit the dust in mission 3, but the rest of the BSG crew is alive and kicking.

        For now.

        • Todd Brakke October 11, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

          I think I need a Ned Stark squaddie who can bravely blunder into inescapable peril and then lose his head.

          And, yeah, I alternate back and forth with being very happy with the interface (it largely lets me do what I want to do) and annoyed at some of its wonkiness. The hotkeys can be a godsend, but I wish I had more precise control over camera rotation (instead of four 90-degree presets) and sometimes the placement cursor gets incontrollably jittery.

          In terms of Ironman, I also avoid it right now because when I encounter some mission types for the first time (like the first terror mission) I need to take a couple of turns to understand it’s rules/goals. (In said terror mission, I didn’t grasp the whole rescuing civies process right away.)

    • VRaptor117ountr October 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

      No one should ever go South America for their base anyways. With only two countries, it’s the easiest to cover with satellites early on.

  3. VRaptor117 October 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    Great post Todd. I, too, am having a blast playing the game (safely, I might add, on Normal). I have couple of notes:

    -I get why each non-Support guy can only carry one grenade, they are very powerful . But they never seem to fail to explode or otherwise do less than the stated damage. If they were less reliable, I could see having an upgrade to let your guys carry more than one. Also, once enemies have grenades, you’ll be glad they only get one.

    -I was also bitten by the lack of clarity in research rewards. Once I completed some research that allowed me to build alien alloy SHIVs, I quickly bought several to fill holes in my depleted squads, only to realize later, during a mission, that they have no gun mounted on them. You need to research something else to get that.

    -There are occasionally Council requests that allow you to sell off or exchange some of your surplus equipment. A country might want 3 ARC throwers for 4 scientists, for instance. But these requests are infrequent and are not always about equipment. On a side note, the Creepy Council Shadow Guy VA is awesome and totally fitting.

    -It seems like you never need to make more than 6 of an item. You can just slot it off one team member and put it on an active one. Items don’t seem to be destroyed or lost in the field, which is a little odd.

    -The memorial wall is a sad place. I wish there was a way to disable that button.

    *Support characters get an optional upgrade to allow them to carry an additional item.

    • Todd Brakke October 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

      I absolutely agree with you about the grenades. The loadouts from which you must choose are balanced for better gameplay as opposed to realism and that’s cool with me. I just think it’ll bother the more hardcore players when they can’t do stuff like salvage equipment from a slaughtered squaddie.

      Yep, I’ve seen a couple of those council requests. It’s a need element to the game but hard to plan for when you have no idea what they might request. (Granted, it looks like you usually get 2-3 weeks to fulfill said request.)

      I was actually a little disappointed with the memorial wall. Maybe because I haven’t lost many troops, but it looks like it’s just a list of names with sad music. I was hoping for a more personal touch in the background. (Or does that evolve when you start losing troops by the bushel?)

      • Mark E October 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

        I may be wrong but I believe the wall gets coated by snapshots of the dead as you go.

        I was looking at it during my ironman classic and the damn list was full.

        • McKay October 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

          It does. I’ve lost five now (including the three from the tutorial) and the pictures slowly increase.

      • McKay October 11, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

        Heavies can get a perk btw that allows them to carry more than one grenade (two I think?). Similar to Support’s three medpack skill.

        • coyote_blue October 12, 2012 at 10:21 am #

          Yeah, I finally went through enough troops that I had to start naming soldiers after Cylons. Caprica Six joined the squad as a Heavy Captain, and she gets two rockets and two alien grenades per map. More than enough for any scorched earth policy I planned to pursue.

  4. coyote_blue October 11, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    Landed UFOs have patrols, which can intersect your party as they set up on turn 1. (Yes, it happened to me.) While you don’t get shot getting out of the Skyranger, you can be reaction-shot by unseen foes (yes, it’s happened to me).

    My current best Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time was a strip mall shootout. Two guys are behind cars, looking into storefronts on two adjacent shops. Assault Team is in one of the stores (a grocery), mopping up a sectoid fireteam. Suddenly, my overwatch guys spot a full crew of floaters, in the store next door. As soon as Assault Team fires, their position will be given away. Floaters will teleport to my flanks, mission is FUBAR, tears flow. So my best chance is to pull back my overwatch team to cover the flank, losing visibility on the second store.

    Unless.

    Instead of normal weapons, my Assault Team pulls back from the internal shared wall. Heavy fires a rocket at the wall. The two shops are now one, and the rocket kills remaining hostiles in the grocery.

    But now, both shops are on fire, there’s no cover inside to advance towards the new squad…and the baddies have LOS on my Assault Team.

    That’s XCOM, baby.

    • Michael Barnes October 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

      Sweet dill pickles, you just made me giddy. I can’t wait to get to this after Dishonored.

    • Mark E October 11, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

      Every time the doctor tells off command for using the rocket launcher I want to yell at the tv that she just doesn’t get it, she wasn’t there, man!

      I had a similar moment when I set up my sniper on a bus for elevation. Elevation’s great, but without cover it’s a total death sentence.

      And if you don’t sweat the bomb missions you are made of stone, those things are tense as hell.

      • McKay October 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

        Worst moment: Getting into a firefight when hiding behind a car. Aliens shoot the car, car catches on fire and explodes before my guy could run.

        Best moment: No line of sight on a sectoid behind a car. Decided to try lobbing a grenade which landed on the roof, turning the entire thing in a big ol’ explosion. No more sectoid. Also, rocket on a pack of floaters the first time I encountered them. That was gold.

        • Todd Brakke October 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

          Poor Mr. Abner had a bad day like that. He took some fire, so I sent Binky over to heal him up, which he does. Then before, he can take a turn, the car Straw is behind explodes, reducing him back to one hit point. He then panics and screams over and over something to the effect of, “What are we even doing here? This is not normal!”

          So. Not. Straw.

  5. Caralon October 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    Good lord I want to play this game!

  6. Matt Thrower October 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    “Matt is, I think, German”

    WHAT? Did we not help you guys beat the Nazis for NOTHING?

    Great non-review though. I so have to have this game, although it’s not actually on European release until tomorrow which is, in the internet age, just inexcusably stupid. And publishers wonder why people pirate stuff.

    I am cautiously, cautiously hoping it might even be good enough and popular enough to re-ignite interest in strategy as a genre which seems to be all but dead outside the group of hardcore fanatics like me.

    I’m not sure whether to go for PC or 360 though. Any advice?

    • rhamorim October 11, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

      If you’re a hardcore fanatic of strategy games, then PC is the logical option. That’s THE platform of choice for hardcore fanatics of strategy games, you know. ;)

      • Matt Thrower October 11, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

        Yes I do know. However I’m fascinated by what they’ve done with the control scheme in X-COM, handheld controllers being one of the biggest obstacles to good strategy games on consoles. I amazed to read one reviewer who stated that he preferred playing it on the PC but found it better to use a plugged in 360 controller than the mouse and keyboard.

        Plus on the PC I have to fret that my hardware is up to it, and then there’s the piddly screen. And the battery running flat. And all that jazz.

    • Todd Brakke October 11, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

      I don’t know squat about the console version, but I can’t imagine not playing this on my PC. Granted I have a 27″ display my face is about 12 inches from while I play, so I get plenty immersed. :)

      And, yes, I’m very sorry for the Germany thing. It was the only European country for which I had any troops, so at least you’re on the right continent. :) It’s such a small thing, but I really can’t figure why they don’t let you customize that.

  7. MikeO October 11, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    I have hardly had time to play this game since I bought it, but I have a few hours in. It’s been so long since I have had this sort of potent buzz playing a game, and most of it is not nostalgia. As good as the original X-Com was, there was also a *lot* of tedious micromanagement, inventory minigame (as Bart Simpson might say, pretty crappy game), and exploits. Some cool stuff is removed for XCOM, but they mostly got rid of the really tedious crap and kept the good.

    I am wearing a permanent grin anytime I have time to fire this up.

    • Todd Brakke October 11, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

      Yep. With the possible exception of FTL, it’s been awhile since I’ve been this goofy-happy with a game.

  8. Ian S. October 11, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    My favorite thing so far is the personal arcs your guys end up with. My best guy right now is a Sniper who has been with me from mission 3. That was a Council mission where you had to rescue the VIP and then-Rookie Soto was along for his first ride against the x-rays. He was up front as I carefully navigated around a large centralized fountain and ended up getting repeatedly poisoned as we ran into clumps of Thin Men. He ticked down to 1 hp and I figured him for dead, but to my great surprise he shrugged it off before dying. I sent him back to hold the fort at the extraction point, thinking he would just be meat in the thick of the fighting. And wouldn’t you know it, as we were extracting the VIP a Thin Man spawned right beside the extraction point and the rook blew him away. That was his hero turn. He’s now the undisputed bad-ass of my squad and a damned killing machine (something like 50 kills and counting).

    • Todd Brakke October 11, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

      Yep. They absolutely nailed that part of the game. Everybody comes out with a unique story behind their troops. Wonderful stuff.

  9. MikeO October 11, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    Gah, I was hoping I would be able to play for an hour or so before I go to work, but Steam servers are too busy to patch my game, apparently. So annoying.

  10. Mark E October 12, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    The maps may not be random, but there are a pile of them and they DO change. I’ve done the first terror mission on Classic and Normal now and while they are both in the same location, the layout was different and the general map was different in both.

    Which is good since I’m playing this again. And again.

    Oh, and I have a personal story in the making right now, because I accidentally hit the ‘start mission’ button while doing my squad load-out and have 3 members assaulting a medium-sized down UFO. Uh… oops.

  11. coyote_blue October 12, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    “Husker” Adama, “Prez” Roslin, a reformed Caprica Six, and Saul Tigh are up against two Thin Men in a medium UFO. The high ground is covered. Saul picks off a Thin Man with ease.

    “Wait,” Roslin says. “We haven’t captured a Thin Man yet. I’m the only one with an Arc Thrower.”

    “You sure?” Adama asks.

    “It’s three squares away. Watch my back.”

    She misses the Arc Thrower shot. Gets a critical hit to the face.

    Muton rolls in, takes the high ground.

    New squad of three Thin Men take the flank, pushing back Chief Tyrol and setting up the killbox.

    And…Adama misses the reaction shot.

    Roslin dies, movie style, in slow motion. I’m on Ironman.

    Adama yells F*** EVERYTHING. He, Saul and Chief roll forward out of cover, soaking damage and making point blank shots from no cover.

    You will be avenged, President Roslin.

  12. Scott October 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    Playing XCom to death and now on the final mission.

    It really is an excellent modern update but there are some odd easy to solve bugs in there.

    The vertical camera is completely screwed up (roof flickering, soldiers not going where they should etc). The vertical camera needed to act more like the fixed old-school map rotating. its the wrong way round! How the hell did they cock that up.

    Plus if you mind control an alien… you cant shoot him. If you’ve ran out of grenades your screwed. Mission wont end (like it would if your troops were controlled) if his the last guy, when he comes out of mind control there’s a good chance he may be a tad shooty (I lost a Rookie the first time this happened, I haven’t turned XCom on since). Again very basic play testing should have found this out!

    A soldiers bleeding out, the same one with a medikit. No-one else has a medikit. Why cant soldiers swap out items in the field. Sure I get the streamlined aspect but… sigh. I’ll stop now. It is a great game but bloody hell its got a few easy to solve problems.

    • Todd Brakke October 15, 2012 at 9:45 am #

      I don’t know if it’s the maps I’m getting to or what, but ever since they released that initial patch last week it feels like I’m running into more and more camera issues. I know they’re going to patch it again to make it so the camera doesn’t keep resetting zoom/height every time you change soldiers and I’m sure that’ll help a lot, but even discounting that it’s got issues. Not a deal-breaker for me, but I’ll be very happy when they polish it up some more.

      • Scott October 15, 2012 at 10:18 am #

        I’ve completed it and had a fantastic time doing so.

        although at some point your coming to come across a bug that immediately makes you turn it off and not come back to it in a while.

        Cant wait to replay it fixed up and patched up the rafters. Strangely some things have been cut out of the game like terror ships flying around before landing. There are already mods out there flicking an internal switch and turning this cut content on. Strange they put this work in and didn’t even have it as an option, although the argument would be it was cut from a design point of view.

        • Todd Brakke October 15, 2012 at 10:32 am #

          Or, given it’s 2k/Firaxis, they’re going to flesh out and enable it as DLC. Nothing would surprise me less. (And, sadly, I’ll buy it in this instance because, like… XCOM.)

  13. Hobbes October 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    The game has some confined maps, but ye gods, the mission I just did took place inside an Alien ship the size and dimensions of a walmart warehouse, it was a vast multileveled nightmare packed with enemies which were the who’s who of “things that murder your squad in one go!”. It does have some genuinely vast maps that’ll need a good couple of hours to clear.

    Equally you can get a council mission that’s all of 15 minutes and gets you a free thin man to torture :D

    Oh yes, and if you see a big robot hunker down and spread out scanning lasers – run. Run and get under cover. Or die. Your call.

    • Todd Brakke October 15, 2012 at 9:41 am #

      I got to a larger alien ship this weekend and, yeah, that was an exercise in, “oh shit, what’s around this corner?” Thank god for battle scanners. :)

    • McKay October 16, 2012 at 10:15 am #

      Just got to the big robot with the scanning lasers. Holy crap.

  14. EvaUnit02 October 14, 2012 at 3:31 am #

    I agree with your “not a review.” I don’t think this game is X-Com, personally. Firaxis tossed out much of the strategy and logistics from the original. It’s still a fairly tactical game but it’s just not as deep as the original. Here’s hoping Xenonauts fills the void.

    Still, XCOM is a great game in its own right. I’m having a lot of fun with it.

    • Todd Brakke October 15, 2012 at 9:38 am #

      I can totally understand why a UFO Defense vet would be put off by some of the changes of Enemy Unknown. I love this game, but I’m not so much into all the fiddly bits of the original. I like the smaller squads and simpler tactical options largely because they fit how I play games today (compared to the marathon sessions I used to be able to devote to them back in the day).

      • Mark E October 15, 2012 at 9:49 am #

        This.

        I loved the original and no mistake, but for all the amazing that was there, well, there was still a lot of bs and tedious arsing about that the new one does away with.

        Some will say it does away with too much, but I think it’s a very reasonable change.

        Games cost money, Firaxis needs to turn a profit and the fan base of the original game was never going to be big enough for that. Rather this one sold a ton and we got added complexity in a sequel.

        • Scott October 15, 2012 at 10:32 am #

          Nothing says you cant play the original. Indeed every now an then I still do.

          I am interested to see this newer version continue with a sequel. A sequel that really runs with it, not a Terror of the Deep style re-researching the same game thing. Something alien! Something that starts with PSI and Plasma and beyond!

          • coyote_blue October 15, 2012 at 11:59 am #

            I’m worried that doing that would kill the theming. XCOM in space isn’t XCOM, to me. It might, however, be something equally awesome in its own right.

            I’d rather see expansions that modify the main campaign – underwater missions, more maps, new level progression skills, wider tech tree. There’s a lot you could do with this before you expand to a sequel.

      • EvaUnit02 October 15, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

        To be fair, I’m someone who enjoys games like Hearts of Iron. So, my opinion should be taken accordingly ;-)

        • Scott October 16, 2012 at 5:51 am #

          To coyote_blue. Your completely correct. I would kill the XCom charm.. but I would love something completely new from these guys (something without the restraints, maybe something closer to the grand but flawed XCom apocalypse). I think what we both want is an proper good ol’ fashion expansion pack. Remember them… thick dense delicious expanded gameplay rather then the fluffy light spinning bow-tie DLC.

          To EvaUnit02 – Xenonauts could be your bag. Or reinstall X-Com with some mods an wotnot. Nostalgia is a tricky temptress.

  15. MasterChief October 15, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    This is why it’s not good to give early reviews of games.

    1. You can pick an all-American squad if you want to or all female. All you do is keep hiring troops and pick and choose from the list. I do agree that there should be deeper customization.

    2. Some body Armour doesn’t take up a slot. I currently have armour that I researched that also allows me to carry a medikit or a grenade.

    3. I have tried a level over again and the terrain was different. A crash site for example had the ship facing a different way and there were different enemies even though I reloaded the same save.

    The game crashes on me but I do expect many updates on this game and further tweaks. Not many games hold my attention like this one does. I have played the original game and they have managed o keep that same experience intact but at the same time they made it a bit more mainstream.

    • Todd Brakke October 15, 2012 at 9:35 am #

      Well, as it says in the title – Not a Review. :)

      1. The thing is you really can’t just keep hiring troops when the initial capacity is something on the order of 12. (I don’t have the game in front of me to verify.) Yes, you can dismiss and rehire, but it costs 10 credits (I think) to hire a trooper and money is too precious to waste on throwing down a bottomless pit waiting for a nationality/gender combo. Finally, troops don’t arrive immediately upon hire so it’s a time sink as well. It’s a minor nit, but there’s no reason not to let the player customize this out right. And it’s equally silly that changes like armor color are reserved only for people who pre-ordered (which I did, but if I had bought on release day I’d be more than a little tweaked).

      2. The point is the game isn’t immediately clear which category a piece of armor is in when you research it (not sure it’s clear when you manufacture either, but need to double-check the icon usage; if it is there, it’s still easy to miss). This is a frequent issues across a range of item categories.

      3. There is variation, but for the hardcore fans of the original game, individual environs remains much more restrictive/narrow/closed relative to that game and those players should keep that in mind before they buy.

      Anyway, the premise here was not to review, but to establish what stuck out most to me, as a fan of the original game, in the initial 12-hours or so of play. Like I note at the top and in closing, I *adore* this game.

  16. Liastaob October 15, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    It actually bothers me a bit that my Austrian Support guy (Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course) can’t have a Germanic accent. Maybe they’ll add a voice acting DLC or something :)

    Loving this game. I’ve been playing on faux Ironman, in that I let my guys die, but I have more than one save just in case I paint myself into a corner somehow.

    • Scott October 16, 2012 at 7:35 am #

      I cant see DLC for voice acting… but I can see a thriving modding scene.

      • Liastaob October 16, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

        Yeah, I’m hoping that Firaxis put in good hooks for modding, like they do with Civ games. I’d love a better selection of weapons and research. It seems to me like pure research dries up pretty quickly.

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image

You must be logged in to post a comment.