The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

97° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Gamefreak: XCOM: Enemy Unknown review

    Press Photo

    A video game succeeds when the person playing becomes invested, and that success is something a surprising amount of games fall short of. “XCOM: Enemy Unknown,” on the other hand, exceeds that success by a wide margin.

    It’s hard to think that a turn-based, tactical, strategy, roleplaying game would be able to command such attention, but “XCOM” is hard to let go of. What’s more, as a remake of 1994 cult classic “UFO: Enemy Unknown,” many expected it to turn away the only loyal fans. After all, no one hates anything more than a poorly executed remake.

    But “XCOM” defied expectations and actually managed to accomplish the normally impossible task of making strategy RPGs accessible to new players.

    For those who find the genre confusing, think of it this way: it’s like playing “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare,” only instead of being a soldier, you’re the general. Granted, “XCOM” is not a game for everyone, but it’s surprising how time spent on the front lines will help when coordinating the battle plan.

    The setting itself does a good job of getting players invested, too. Instead of just pandering to American or European audiences, “XCOM” makes the setting the entire Earth. With an alien invasion striking everyone at the same time, major countries from around the world send their resources and best soldiers to help fight the good fight.

    Speaking of the soldiers, they have the highest potential to ensnare players. With the ability to customize the looks, names and nicknames of every recruit, playing can get very personal. The key is changing names and appearances to make avatars out of your best friends. There’s nothing more satisfying than leading a band of best friends against an evil alien menace.

    Be warned though, as there is a drawback. Since the game can be saved after every turn, it’s extremely tempting to reload after a tactical blunder sees a friend killed. Though it may be slightly hypocritical to say so, avoid this at all costs, as it will rob you of the very emotions that make “XCOM” so rewarding. And don’t worry – the game includes a memorial for all of your fallen fellows.

    Gameplay is also plenty complex, which adds to the depth of the already impressive game. Players will be constantly researching new technologies based on finds from frequent skirmishes with the invaders, and prioritizing which innovations are most important is difficult.

    Then players will actually have to build the researched materials, such as new facilities to improve operations at the home base, new weapons and armor to advance soldiers and fighter ships to protect the satellites “XCOM” uses to track alien activity.

    That’s right, in addition to fighting a ground war against the aliens, players will have to protect the skies from increasingly difficult alien encounters.

    It’s also worth mentioning that players will have to do all of this on a limited budget while every country clamors for help from simultaneous alien attacks. Oh, and how do the ignored countries feel about that? Yeah, they’ll leave your little alliance and take their help with them. It’s a constant balancing act.

    Actual encounters can be tough too, especially thanks to a mechanic that keeps injured soldiers off the battlefield for days at a time. It’s a nice choice that adds a layer of realism, but it can be really inconvenient when your MVP has to sit out on a big mission after foolishly getting hurt over something minor the mission before.

    There’s a lot more to talk about, but the short version is “XCOM” will not fail to make you care. It plays great on both PC and consoles and it’ll take a lot of hours to save the world from evil invaders.

    Follow us on Twitter @wildcatarts and follow Jason @Jason_Krell.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search