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Xcom: Enemy Unknown Review

Updated on January 12, 2013

Xcom: Enemy Unknown has you take up the role of the nameless faceless supreme commander of Xcom, an international agency set up to defend against aliens. Earths getting all smashed up and it’s up to you to save it. Xcom: Enemy Unknown is a remake, reimagining, reboot thingy(journalism speak) of two games from the 90s; UFO: Enemy Unknown and X-COM: UFO Defence.

The two main aspects of game play in Xcom: Enemy Unknown are tactical turn based shooting and resource and base management. Ok, not the most exciting sounding game play but both complement each other beautifully. Neither feels like a gimmick; both are well designed and thought out, actually requiring skill and foresight to be used strategically.

You spend your time in the field, stopping aliens from destroying cities, abducting people and other unpleasant alien pastimes. Then take the resources you gained back to base, sort your squad, chose research, build equipment and facilities.
However, the alien attacks, and other missions, happen at random; but are the only way to gain resources. Randomness in a core game play mechanic is annoying, but at the same time it gives the game an almost endless replay value.

There aren’t really any main characters in Xcom: Enemy Unknown, there are only three characters in the entire game with names and faces. Yet, with the ability to name and customise the appearance of your soldiers you can make your own drama. I opted to name my soldiers after friends, watching them die on mass becomes a lot more absorbing.

Xcom: Enemy Unknown is hard, and not for those who are new to the strategy genre. With the reliance on resources being spent well and your experienced soldiers not dying, one wrong move will rip out the foundations of everything you’ve built.

The graphics aren’t mind blowing; they’re cartoony, but it gives the aliens a rich visual style. Combined with the sci-fi soundtrack it gives Xcom: Enemy Unknown a unique feel.

If you like strategy, you’ll love Xcom: Enemy Unknown. If not, I wouldn’t recommend this is where you start, as the game can be unforgiving. It’s still one of the best games of 2012, it’s a classic game, from a classic genre, that’s been streamlined for the current generation.

8/10

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