I’ve had one hell of an experience with XCOM since its release. It’s been the best turn-based strategy game I’ve played since the remake of Tactics Ogre awhile ago for the PSP, and it’s one that makes me wax nostalgic for the original X-COM: UFO Defense (also known as UFO: Enemy Unknown).
I’ve spent close to 30 hours in the game, and I’ve already had to restart the game ten times. While that might sound like a bad thing for any other game, it’s actually one of the best things about XCOM. Saying so requires me to explain what I mean, so read on.
Your actions have consequences
It's a game that forces you to make decisions all the time. From the global map to the missions themselves, you'll be making decisions which impact the fate of your squad and that of all mankind. You'll be forced to choose which missions to go on, which soldiers to send, and who makes it out alive of the mission is all up to how good your skills are at commanding them.
Beyond that, you'll even have to choose which technology to research, which weapons to build, and how you assemble your squad is completely up to you.
If you play the game on Ironman mode, you won't even be able to reload, so your every action will have its consequences.
It's like playing Gears of War or Mass Effect from a totally different perspective
Have you ever imagined what it’d be like to control your squad in Gears of War or Mass Effect from the top down? XCOM offers that perspective by putting you in control of everything from your squad’s loadouts to their actions on the field.
Best of all, you can even name your characters after Marcus Fenix’s team for an additional degree of immersion.
It's mostly true to the classic
There are some differences between the new XCOM and the original X-COM. Namely, there’s only one base for you to manage, there are no stages in which you have to defend your base; and while you’re in the field, you have fewer soldiers to manage, you don’t have to worry about your ammo count, nor do you have the ability to target specific body parts of your opponents.
That said, the game stays largely true to the original in the ways that matter. XCOM is every bit as challenging as the originals, and it’s one that forces you to use your brain while you’re playing the game. Just because it’s been streamlined in some ways doesn’t mean Firaxis hasn’t made up for it in others. There’s additional customizability for your soldiers this time around and deciding how you construct your base matters more than ever before.
If you loved the classic X-COM games, XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a game you owe yourself to play.
Do you like games that kick the shit out of you?
XCOM is right up there with Dark Souls and the equally unforgiving Demon's Souls as a game that doesn't pull any punches. It's a game that will kick the shit out of you and you'll be asking for seconds.
The game gives you many options on how you decide to play the game. You can play it in Casual difficulty if you're merely interested in testing the waters, or in Normal mode if you want to get your feet a little wet. Classic mode offers a real challenge, and it's one that'll keep you on the edge of your seat as you suffer through the game's difficult single player campaign. And once you die, you'll just restart and play it again.
It's infinitely replayable
What keeps the game interesting is the fact that all of its maps are randomly generated so you'll never know which enemies you'll face or what they'll decide to do in combat. For that matter, you won't even know what you'll do until you're actually there. A squadmate might lose his shit after taking heavy fire from a Muton and accidentally turn his gun on the guy beside him. What you decide to do when something like that happens is totally up to you, and the game will keep throwing different scenarios at you each time you load up a new map.