XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Video Game Review)

Aliens and video games go together as well as Oreos and milk, and yet sometimes, the two alone aren't enough to satisfy your craving. XCOM: Enemy Unknown sounds good in theory; the wonderful developers over at Firaxis games, who are well known for their strategy titles such as the Civilization series, came up with this new title that combines shooter and strategy game mechanics with a storyline that follows a human versus aliens war. Unfortunately, the sum of XCOM: Enemy Unknown's parts are better than the final product thanks to a steep learning curve, a sub par presentation, weak shooter integration and a storyline that falls a bit flat. Hardcore strategy fans may find something to like about XCOM: Enemy Unknown, but most of these players are already gaming on PC where there are plenty of other RTS games that are far superior to XCOM: Enemy Unknown in nearly every way.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown
follows the tales of an elite military unit known as XCOM that is currently at war with an invading alien force. To prevent an alien takeover, the government has sent XCOM to eliminate enemy threats, and it will be your job to head into combat while controlling your group and keeping each other protected at all times. There are plenty of intricacies involved in the game's storyline that we won't spoil here, but the storyline is definitely a complicated one that never really feels rewarding and is delivered through a series of cut scenes with the rare knowledge nugget dropped throughout gameplay. The game itself will take many hours to complete, and there are online multiplayer modes as well for those that actually enjoy what XCOM: Enemy Unknown has to offer.

Many of the classic formulas used in the best strategy games are present in XCOM: Enemy Unknown; you'll have a variety of character classes to construct your team with, and they can be upgraded and trained in new skills as you carefully manage resources and research emerging technologies. The first problem lies arises when you realize XCOM: Enemy Unknown isn't just a strategy game. At many points in the game, shooter gameplay takes over with less than desirable results. The game's controls feel clunky here, and the overall quality of the game takes a big hit here with the not so fun gameplay. Making the game even more frustrating is its difficulty. Sometimes finding enemies means searching a location thoroughly until you find enemies that aren't activated until you come in really close contact of them, and at other times, enemies seem to pop up out of nowhere and get the quick jump on your unit. All of this wouldn't be so bad, but when a character dies in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, they die for good along with all the upgrades that have went into the character thus far, and unless you quickly reload your game, you'll possibly not be able to complete your game that you've poured numerous hours into. XCOM: Enemy Unknown can definitely get old quick, and since the game gives you very little helpful information and features a steep learning curve, you'll likely give up on the game rather than put in the time and overlook its flaws.

It doesn't help that XCOM: Enemy Unknown features a weak presentation. The game's graphics are decent, but the game's environments don't feature enough aesthetic differences despite traveling to the biggest cities located around the world. The game does feature a pretty great soundtrack however, and the voice actors give mostly great performances, although you'll likely not care too much about their by the book characteristics and tendencies in the game. All in all, XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a very average game that may sell well on consoles, but in a crowded strategy market on the PC, gamers will likely get their fix from some other, better, title. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is the classic example of a game that sounds really promising in theory but doesn't quite live up to its potential. Check out XCOM: Enemy Unknown if you're desperate for a new strategy game, otherwise, you should pick up and of a number of better and cheaper strategy game on your console of choice.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is now available from all major retailers and can be purchased for the MSRP of $59.99 and can be purchased for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is rated M by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Strong Language & Violence. For more information on the game, check out the official XCOM: Enemy Unknown website.

Game Features:
  • Online Multiplayer 1-2
  • Play as Aliens and Soldiers
  • Online Leaderboards
  • DLC Support
  • Trophy/Achievement Support

  • Game Information:
    Developer: Firaxis
    Publisher: 2K Games
    Platforms: PlayStation 3 (reviewed), Xbox 360 & PC
    Release Date: October 9, 2012

    Score: 5 out of 10
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