XCOM: Enemy Unknown Preview


Strategy heaven?

Still considered one of the most accomplished examples of the strategy genre of all time, the original XCOM series is arguably an excellent choice for a modern re-take, provided one can of course pay it sufficient justice. Whilst 2K Marin’s FPS reboot was first to bolt from the publisher’s stable with news of its coming, a (hopefully short) stop in development limbo has turned all eyes on Firaxis to lead the way in bringing the classic title blasting and zapping its way into the 21st century.

In terms of play, this title is certainly looking to be a much closer experience to the original than it’s bigger-budget namesake – but that isn’t to say that it’s stuck entirely in the past either. Visually, it’s shaping up quite nicely; there’s a cartoonish yet clean edge, with a more drastic departure in the notably darker & moodier colour palette – whether this is due to the small range of stages that have been shown so far remains to be seen though. There’s a far more cinematic edge than you might expect too, with numerous shots cutting away from the isometric view to close-ups of selected actions, and certain points in the battle triggering wholly new events lead in by cut scenes.

The section of the game being shown off highlighted firstly what many previews have already touched on; the faithful adaptation of the core gameplay, and porting of some old foes into this new world. Chrysalids have been cited in particular, and quickly made good their reputation as the bane of any unexpecting player. What made this particular demo interesting though was finally getting to see the boot on the other foot; with upgrading and developing playing such a large role in the game it was pleasing to see just what happens when you do turn the tide of war back in the human favour.

As well as a less than subtle summoning of Sid “Godfather” Meier as a rather badass, telekinetic commanding officer, there were a few new pieces of kit at the player’s disposal to try out too. The ‘Archangel’ armour came fitted with a handy jetpack, ably demonstrated by a unit flying 4 stories above a street and then making use of a plasma sniper rifle on an unsuspecting alien below, without any concern of ground-level terrain or scenery getting in the way. The ‘Ghost’ armour offered up invisibility and a movement boost, compounded by some rather impressive use of a grappling hook to get up to a rooftop and dispatch a sniper with a surprising but unsubtle shotgun to the back.

A release date of October the 9th was quoted, and it’s looking like a worthwhile exploit for both fans of the series and newcomers alike.

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