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XCOM Preview - E310

E3 2010: No more top-down micro management. Just you and your trusty shotgun.

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Towering well above other booths and glowing like an arena scoreboard, the 2K Games booth at E3 was rather difficult to miss. From the many exciting titles being shown inside, we had a chance to check out a few, and one of them was XCOM. For those unfamiliar, X-Com was a classic PC strategy game where the player was tasked with researching and battling an alien invasion. Having acquired the rights to the franchise in 2005, 2K has set out to create an XCOM title for the new generation. We had a chance to participate in a live demo for the game, and here’s what happened.
XCOM is now a first person shooter, rather than a point and click strategy game, however the developers still promise to bring various atmospheric and strategic elements from the classic game into the new title. It is the 1950’s, a time of hope and faith after the end of WWII. Most people in America are on their way or are already living the dream, with their white picket fences and wide back yards. However, not all is well. There are unexplained occurrences that worry people across the nation. XCom is an organization that is able to take all these odd reports and sightings and actually fight the unknown.
The player just happens to be the founder and top member of this underground organization. With the headquarters located in an airport hangar, Xcom is determined to research and combat the unknown anomalies and alien species that have invaded America. As you walk around the hangar, various rooms serve as central locations for different tasks. The main hall contains a map that outlines the latest reported sightings that you can act on. The three mission types are rescue, anomaly investigation, and an unknown mission type. The story is woven into the missions, and depending on the order a player takes on the objectives, some missions may become unavailable. At the heart of Xcom is an artifact that you have found – the whole company is based on the research of this alien object. Using the artifact, your engineers have created various alien weaponry to use in combat, though there are plenty of conventional weapons at hand as well. Having explored enough of your base, we headed out to a distress call.
On missions, the player is able to bring two comrades. Having these friends die in battle will have a negative impact on the game, though it was not detailed in which way. Once on location, the developers promise to have many different optional objectives that the player may choose to investigate or ignore – a woman screaming, an odd looking tree, etc. Taking on these side quests may wield more valuable photographs for your research. The setting of the game world is very nostalgic and with close attention to detail. The houses, people, and various objects in the world all accurately portray the time period, except of course for the aliens and their technology.
Upon arriving at the distress call, the demo became very action oriented. We encountered numerous blobs of black goo scattering around the floors and ceilings of houses, who quickly realized the taste of our shotgun rounds. After hitting one of these alien entities, they momentarily pause in place, revealing their weak spots. A few more blasts to the core, and the black blobs explored in a grotesque yet satisfying fashion. Grenades are also available, and are handy for setting the hallways of a home on fire. After some close quarters combat, we managed to reach the lady in distress in time and save her from being consumed by the alien. After the dust (rather, grime) has settled, we realized that one of our partners has been lost.
Without much desire to confront the authorities, the player and his remaining sidekick hurried outside on the way to their car. However, a strange object appeared in the sky. As it transformed, it now resembled two focused rings. Surely enough, a moment later a bright beam shot out of the circle, evaporating our partner and the car he was standing next to. In panic, we made our way towards the car, watching as the alien object fried everything left and right. Having finally made it to the vehicle, we turned around just to find the big circle glowing right into our direction. With a flash of light, the demo ended.
There is no doubt that XCOM has enough potential as a standalone shooter, but it has yet to showcase anything to the fans of the original series that would make them interested. Having taken on the same name as the classic strategy game, the developers have set the bar quite high for themselves – not only to do the name justice, but also to bring the series into a totally different genre. Can they pull it off, or will the new experience be too much for the fans of the originals? Will the game be able to find a new audience in those who have never played the series? We’ll find out when XCOM ships in 2011 for PC and Xbox 360.

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#1 Jun 23, 2010 12:38:59 (Jun 23, 2010 12:38)

kinda excited for this title, love the unique look.  just finished bioshock 2 and a unique aesthetic goes along way in invigorating the user experience.
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified box art Platform:
Xbox 360
Our Review of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
Reviewed on PC
Game Ranking
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC) is ranked #1297 out of 1660 total reviewed games. It is ranked #117 out of 158 games reviewed in 2013.
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