The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (Video Game Review)

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is the newest release for the XCOM universe and is a prequel to the highly popular title, XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Unlike its predecessor, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified takes players back to the 1960s Cold War Era and the earlier days of the XCOM organization. There is still plenty of cover-based shootouts with aliens and some impressive graphics the series has been known for, but the game introduces plenty of new features never before seen in the series. The result is a good game that instantly feels different from any other game from the franchise but a worthy prequel in any light.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified follows a new protagonist referred to as agent William Carter. Carter is a top agent in a special government branch known as The Bureau, and leads several missions against extraterrestrial forces throughout the game. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified relishes in its setting and features some serious character development and lengthy dialogue sessions that drive the game forward. Many of the characters in the game face serious issues that were prominent during the time period in the real world, though Carter can tend to shrug off others with smug remarks often times. The game allows the player to choose outcomes of certain scenarios whether choosing to smart off to an important character in the game or deciding whether or not to save another NPC from death. Though there are some loose ends at the end of the game, and there are some silly moments through the lengthy campaign to be sure, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified still provides a strong storyline that fans of the series will surely appreciate.

Combat remains largely unchanged in The Bureau: XCOM Declassified from XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Carter is controlled by the player and will always enter missions with two allies. There are classes and customization options for each character, and permanent death returns for ally characters. There are a variety of firearms and alien weaponry, though most weapons fall in the usual categories of shotguns, pistols, sniper rifles, etc. Additional skills can be unlocked through the game that add passive statistical boosts or activated abilities that summon automatic turrets, deploy distracting holograms or lay some land mines around the stage for unsuspecting enemies to step on. All of this works well with the exception of the permanent death mechanic. Since Carter can never die, allies will typically not die while the player survives a mission and will respawn with the dead player at the last checkpoint. This mechanic has very little influence on the game for better or worse.

There is a good variety of content featured in The Bureau: XCOM Declassified that adds some depth to the game and encourages another playthrough. Obviously, the dialogue and some of the more important events of the game change depending on the player's decisions, so fans of the series will want to replay the game at least once to see how different choices affect the game's outcome. There are also a few different difficulty settings that are sure to challenge even the most veteran XCOM players among us. One cool new feature allows the player to explore The Bureau and nearby areas between missions. There are several puzzles, mini-games and hidden collectibles to find at these times that discourages players from rushing through the game for danger of missing out on all the game has to offer.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified has improved on the graphics for the series. Luscious landscapes like the farmland from one noteworthy mission seems to go on forever and present a very realistic and enjoyable environment for fighting aliens, while the city is always bustling and full of civilians. The main characters models are something special, and you can tell great detail went into creating the facial features of many of the game's characters. The sounds in the game aren't quite as great with voice acting that is hit or miss during certain points in the game and some guns not sounding as though the player is shooting anything powerful. Still, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified has an overall great presentation that is right up there with some of the best releases for 2013.

Fans of the XCOM series will definitely want to pick up a copy of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. The game packs a surprising amount of content and depth for the series and a storyline that won't be something everyone can appreciate but is sure to draw in fans of games that have a classic look and feel such as L.A. Noire. Wise-cracking jokes, old school guns and early model vehicles are all a part of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, and learning about the origins of The Bureau and its members is plenty of fun as well. Check out The Bureau: XCOM Declassified on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC today!

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

Game Features:
  • Single Player
  • Cold War Era Setting
  • DLC Support
  • Trophy/Achievement Support

  • Game Information:
    Developer: 2K Marin
    Publisher: 2K Games
    Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (reviewed) & PC
    Release Date: August 20, 2013

    Score: 8 out of 10

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