Back in 1994, UFO: Enemy Unknown was released on the PC. The game was a hit in both Europe and North America where it was marketed as XCOM: UFO Defence, it’s success was likely due to the fact that earlier that year a hit TV show called The X-Files. After several sequels, there was a long period of time where the XCOM series went silent, only talked about by some hardcore fans of the series. That was until an announcement was made that a brand new XCOM game was being released by 2K Marin, making it a FPS. This of course, pissed off a lot of gamers that were familiar with the original. They wanted something that was similar to the previous titles. 2K listen to those concerns, and while the shooter version was still being made, they gave the fans what they wanted in the FireAxis Developed remake XCOM: Enemy Unknown. This game confirmed one thing for me, if we are ever invaded by hostile aliens… We are so screwed. Enemy Unknown takes place in the near future, a group called the Council of Nations created XCOM, the most elite military and scientific organization in the history of mankind. Your team gets called into an operation in Berlin after an unknown object crashes into the city. This introduces you to the Sectoids, one of the many different aliens types you’ll be facing throughout the game. The Aliens have made the first move, now the XCOM team must strike back to save the world. The story moves from a simple save the world storyline to a Sci-Fi horror story quickly though, as civilians become abducted in the streets, new alien types start attacking and captured aliens are interrogated to reveal the overall plan of the Aliens. While the story does tend to drive the game, it is overshadowed by the game’s brilliant gameplay.
XCOM:EU is Turn-Based Strategy RPG at it’s absolute prime. Taking most of the mechanics from the original and improving it with modern gameplay mechanics. You are given a set amount of units per level, and each unit works differently depending on their class or level. Movement and combat is based off of stamina, allowing you to move anywhere within a confined location per turn, moving within a blue zone will allow you to attack in the same turn or use Overwatch which allows you to attack while they move. Dashing pass the blue zone requires more stamina which makes it that you cannot attack or use specials on that turn, however it increases your chance to evade a Overwatch attack from the enemy. The key to successfully playing XCOM:EU is not in it’s battle system, but rather in it’s management. Between missions you are given the chance to work on the XCOM Headquarters, it is your home base and where most of your content management is handled. Here you can get your science team to do an autopsy on the aliens, as well as develop new equipment for your soldiers in the Engineering bay. Of course this kind of operations cost time and money which is given by the Counsel every month, the amount of which changes after every month thanks to your performance review. Of course the performance review is hardly reliable thanks to the Aliens. With the entire world is a battlefield in this game and losing a battle or choosing the wrong battle will increase global panic, countries with higher panic will be more likely to leave the Council, effectively pulling funding for XCOM. Of course other problems occur as well, high panicked countries mean stronger Aliens and higher difficulty. There are ways to avoid this by sending satellites over the different countries; if a spaceship is caught anywhere in that area you can send aircrafts to bring them down, sending your team to clean up the rest of the ruins. Even with your upgrades, XCOM:EU is extremely hard. This is because of a couple of things, when soldiers die they are permanently dead through your playthrough, and if the counsel removes it’s funding, the game is pretty much over forcing you to restart from the very beginning. Of course you can always reload the map, but there is a chance that the there will be a new randomly generated map for your mission. If you are a sucker for punishment, you can always play Ironman mode which autosaves after every decision you make with only one save file available. XCOM is an old school Tactical RPG that new and old fans will love, especially those who are nostalgic to the difficulty of older games. This is a game that should not be passed up.