XCOM: Enemy Unknown Review

XCOM: Enemy Unknown Review

Jul 7, 2014

XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the legendary tactical shooter of yore has sure had a long time between drinks but at least this cracking, if highly challenging series of games has graced Android. Is the magic intact?

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is all about dealing with hostile aliens invading earth for unknown purposes. Working out just what they’re after is high on the agenda, but so is blasting ton of them into goo.

Screenshot_2014-07-04-21-53-41XCOM is divided into two parts. There is base management and combat. Base management involves building new facilities for X-COM’s secret underground base, researching new items and recruiting new soldiers. Bases require power plants, engineering areas to manufacture researched items and satellite arrays to detect aliens in flight and intercept them.

Combat takes place whenever an alien UFO is downed if the player chooses or when the aliens themselves decide to attack.

Combat in XCOM is gripping and strategic. It uses a tried and true turn based system. There is plenty of cover to hide behind and flanking and keeping your men in cover is essential to winning. Aliens are quite smart and don’t hesitate to cover each other and use grenades. Reaction shots a are huge part of X-COM. If an enemy is suddenly exposed due to moving or their cover being destroyed allies and enemies can fire at the exposed enemy, so cover fire can be very effective. There is also a morale system and too many deaths or some alien abilities can lead to soldiers running away or shooting their friends.

Like in the original XCOM: Enemy Unknown, soldiers that survive combat rank up and gain stats. They also gain a number of abilities and are assigned a class. Snipers for example can use a very powerful headshot skill to deal massive damage and can share sight with other squad members, while heavy machine gunners can suppress enemies and launch rockets. Abilities are vital to success in X-COM and picking the right ones so a squad works together adds a lot to the game.

Screenshot_2014-07-04-21-45-13XCOM: Enemy Unknown revolves around research. From the word go humanity is completely outmatched by the aliens. Their conventional weapons are cutting edge, but compared to lasers and plasma rifles they might as well be firing pillows. Wiping out aliens and capturing them and splashing UFOs allows the player to research myriad different projects. There is, for example flight capable armor or heavy laser rifles. Flying laser snipers and stealth suit wearing shotgunners and more are possible.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown looks fantastic. Aliens look really menacing and environments look great without looking artificial. Soldiers vary nicely and some of the more high tech gear is really cool looking.

Compared to the console versions of XCOM, the Android version takes a graphical hit, but this is mostly limited to lower resolution textures.

The sound is incredibly well done as well. Aliens scream and moan disturbingly and weapons have all the bangs and cool sounding zaps expected of sci-fi weapons. The music is really good as well, particularly the music during actual combat.

X-COM: Enemy Unknown is a no brainer for any fan of tactical shooters. It is huge, deep and full of satisfying gameplay and for the price it is an absolute steal.