XCOM: Enemy Unknown




 XCOM Enemy Unknown was the game I never knew I wanted. I usually avoid strategy games as I'm not very good at them, but I figured since it was free thanks to PS+ I'd try it. I was very pleasantly surprised. XCOM is the group in charge of protecting the Earth from the alien invasion. The opening tutorial does an excellent job of showing how to move your troops and control your characters. The tutorial is split into a few sections, a good idea for how much there is to learn.

First off, the game play. XCOM is a tactical shooter which gives you a slanted view of the action that you are free to rotate. You start with a squad of four and through the course of leveling up you can increase your squad and a few other helpful things. Each person gets two actions per turn which can be used to move, shoot, go into over-watch, reload, etc. As you can see from the picture movement is outlined to a certain area. The blue costs one move, but you can dash into an extended yellow area.
Combat is a huge part of XCOM. As you move around you encounter several different alien species, each with their own special attacks and abilities. When an enemy comes into range a symbol will pop up letting you know you can attack. When you select your shot you see a percentage appear letting you know the chance you'll hit. Sometimes it's better to go into overwatch rather than take a shot on 21%. Each of your soldiers has a class, either sniper, heavy, assault, or support. In my game I stuck with snipers, preferring to hang back and let them deal huge amounts of damage. The other classes each have their own strengths, like the hit and run ability of the assault class.

A bigger part of the whole experience is the behind the scenes activity. As commander of XCOM you are in charge of the budget, researching, and defense. Every month you get a certain amount of money from the countries that are funding the project. It's your job to send up satellites to monitor for alien activity and keep the panic down in each country. Money is also used to buy weapons, armor, soldiers, upgrades, aircraft, etc. It's a great system, but hard to get the hang of right away. After awhile (about halfway through) it does get a lot easier, but when that happens you have the combat to worry about.
Another of XCOM's selling points is the character customization. While not perfect (you can't change nationality, no choice of class for your characters), it's a blast to make characters based off your friends and family. My dream team was me, my brother, my wife, a friend from work, my sister-in-law, and another friend. It was great to be able to tell my stories and be able to actually use names of people I knew.  

While there are a lot of great points about this game there is one thing I did not like. The loading times before missions are very long. Thanks to PS+ I got a download copy for free, and the loading times on that are faster. The disc version's are noticeably longer, and the noise as the disc is read can get very distracting. One smaller complaint is the over use of the kill cam (well, that's what I call it anyway). When a character gets a kill sometimes a special animation is shown, and when it starts you know you got the kill. Sometimes it's nice, but it can rob some of the suspense.  

I can't recommend this game enough despite it's small problems. There's more than enough trophies/achievements to keep you coming back, and there's a lot of experimenting you can do.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown gets an 9/10 

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