Tuesday, October 1, 2013


And what a great game we have here! To be honest, after a screwed up Halo, an even worse than imagined Resident Evil and an Assassin’s Creed that made me almost vomit, Xcom finally made my day this year.

You have a complex building and research facility, battling is insanely tactical yet full of action and surprises, while it offers fun without end and reminds me on more classic games. You have soldiers that level up and become stronger during the game, but that’s not all. Although you can only choose between two options when ranking up, it feels like every fighter you got in your squad is different in playstyle and personality. - Yes they did a very good job there! The actual levels of the game vary from desserts and cities to UFO crash sites in the woods and more. I have played this game at least 30 hours, and I have never played the same level twice. Yes, the setting (woods, city, urban, etc.) may be the same, but the actual structure of the levels never is. I don’t know if the game really constructs levels on a completely random basis, or if it’s just the random positioning of enemies that creates this feeling that every level is something new and different. Again, I cannot stress enough what a great job Firaxis did in that matter, after all the game is called “Enemy Unknown”. You are discovering every single mission you play, it is always different. Some people might think the game should have a small radar or mini map that shows you parts of the map or even the enemies. Some people think the camera control should provide you with more freedom, like maybe an actual first person view, so you can look deeper into the levels and check the lines of fire… However, I think that the game, how it is now, is exactly what it’s supposed to be; not only is it the task of your squads to discover unknown areas and face the unknown threats as you go along, but this is clearly where the fun comes from.

Like I said, this game offers an extensive playtime. Later on, when the game gets almost ridiculously difficult, you can die after five minutes or play one hour on one single mission just to die then. But compared to other games dying in Xcom isn’t that frustrating. It’s also worth mentioning that you have a save feature, which helps you a lot during the game and causes you never to blame the game, because the thought ‘Why didn’t I save…’, may always come to your mind.

When I first saw this game at a friend’s place, I just thought that the graphics really sucked. I couldn't have been more wrong. The graphics are not only very nice, but they also fit very well into the tactical genre. Yes, there are certain bugs, when soldiers shoot through walls or aliens have their appearances somewhere between sinks and refrigerators, but aside from that the graphics are even better than necessary for this kind of game. The story, or whatever you may want to call it, is really immersive and takes you in after minute one, although it’s just the old “Aliens invading earth” topic. - But yeah… What do we need more? Not everything must have the most unpredictable twists and plot developments never seen before. Again: Keep it simple and focus on the games more than on rights, copy protection or a writer staffs! - Firaxis seems to understand that.

As a musician myself, I have to say that the soundtrack of this game, though appealing and fitting, somehow gets lots in the game. It doesn’t matter whether you play a mission or you build something in your base, for me it seems like most of the times there is no sound at all. It’s hard to explain, because there is music… I just think, even after 50 hours of game time you could play me some sounds and I would still not recognize they are from this game. So let’s say: Unfortunately, the music is not really memorable or rather catchy. Voice acting on the other side is great I think, and this goes for the English as well as the German synchronization.

So, in conclusion: I haven’t played such a good game in a while. It’s numerous features and the fact that it doesn’t get boring because everything is unique, simply fascinate me. I have never been too much of a fan of tactical games, because I think the AIs aren’t still as good as they should be… yet, Xcom somehow seems to work just fine. This game is a great diversion from all the repetitive first person shooters, action games and stupid child stuff out there on the market. No wonder this game won a lot of upcoming awards. It is a must have for every reasonable gamer out there! And I am sure I am not the only one eagerly awaiting the sequel!

Yeah,... muliplayer. It's there, but not my case. I'd rather play the campaign again with this one.

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