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XCOM: Enemy Unknown Review

Firaxis Games successfully revives yet another classic franchise

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As mentioned, numbers are supposed to play a big role, but they always seem to favor the aliens. Having a 50% chance to hit your target feels far less than that when the actual shot occurs, while your enemy can get the most incredible headshots. It’s this lack of balance and sheer randomness that costs you valuable units, all the while your defenseless rookies somehow survive the biggest onslaughts because their cover actually holds or the enemy simply misses all the time. So your squad members will die, and will die a lot. Death is permanent in XCOM, and so you’ll often need to visit the barracks and recruit new soldiers to fight. The downside here is that with each battle, your squad members gain experience and unlock new abilities – so losing them is painful as you have to resort to rookies again. It takes definite patience to survive XCOM’s trips, but also no certain amount of luck.

Things get a bit more balanced when it comes to multiplayer. Here, players get a certain amount of points to create their squad, with the ability to utilize upgrades and high-end units at the cost of more points. You can also select aliens as your squad members in online play, though it doesn’t really revolutionize anything. Given the game’s reliance on statistics and luck over any true tactics, selecting just two most powerful alien units guarantees victory even against a larger squad of medium strength humans. The matches play out pretty well the same way as the campaign, without any game alterations specifically for multiplayer.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

The game’s visual style has a rather uninspired design, with soldiers resembling those from Gears of War and aliens being rather stereotypical as well. And as discussed before, environment visual variety is very limited, even the alien ships look rather the same. The camera isn’t exactly great either – having quite a struggle when you’re trying to view the battlefield from the edge of a map, or when changing elevation. Having said that, Enemy Unknown runs very well on even aging PC hardware and looks very sharp. The voice acting and audio design is fine, nothing in particular stands out for better or worse.

With XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Firaxis Games have shown once again that they are more than capable of reimagining classic strategy games for the current generation. Sure, this newest edition may be simplified and streamlined, but it’s a re-launch of the franchise after all, not a remake. Fans of the original game will be pleased with the modern game engine and visuals providing a nice backdrop to the hardcore turn based action, and a punishing difficulty that remains fully intact. Newcomers, meanwhile, may want to tread carefully and consider just how much patience and tolerance for “roll of the dice” gameplay they have.

Our ratings for Xcom: Enemy Unknown on PC out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
The game lacks any particularly memorable artistic design, but textures look sharp and the audio is sufficient.
The basics of classic XCOM are present, including an unrelenting difficulty. Maintaining world order is hard, surviving the battlefield even much more so with some randomized chances that often don't go the player's way.
Single Player
The campaign is lengthy, but chances are it will take a few restarts before most players will even get halfway. Chances of completing the game are even less, if Steam player statistics are any indication.
Playing against others works much the same as offline, but at least the kill chances are equally random for both opponents. Seems to be quite a lack of players online.
(Show PC Specs)
CPU: Intel Core i7 CPU 930 @ 2.80GHz
GPU: Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X 1GB
OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
PC Specs

The game runs quite well on older hardware, without any glitches or bugs.
It's mostly XCOM as the fans of the original game remember it, so prepare for a tough challenge that may take much of your free time. Everyone else would do well to consider the game's high potential for frustration before taking command.
Xcom: Enemy Unknown
Xcom: Enemy Unknown box art Platform:
Our Review of Xcom: Enemy Unknown
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
Xcom: Enemy Unknown is ranked #613 out of 1978 total reviewed games. It is ranked #59 out of 145 games reviewed in 2012.
613. Xcom: Enemy Unknown
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