XCOM: Enemy Unknown Review

Just like the movie industry, reboots of old game series have always been the target of pessimism as majority of these do not turn out well. While you do get success stories once in a while, more often than not, these reboots of well loved classics are doomed to failure before they even started.

It is not surprising to see the many sceptical eyebrows being raised when 2k Games announced that Firaxis Games, the people behind the very successful Civilization series, will be doing a reboot of the Microprose’s 1994 classic, UFO: Enemy Unknown or known as X-COM: UFO Defense in North America. Calling it XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the people at Firaxis Games have taken upon themselves the task or bringing the strategy game cult classic to the 21st century.

For those new to the series, the game puts you the player in the role as the commander of earth’s last line of defence against aliens who are obviously up to no good. The players has not only to manage the back end base operations like what to research but also command a squad of 4-6 XCOM operatives in the various missions.

While it does sound rather like a generic strategy offering, what made the original series so engaging was the fact that these decisions are often not easy and have a lasting impact on the rest of the game. From deciding if you should research weapons or armour to even on the battlefield where sometimes you have to choose between the life of your veteran XCOM operative and the life of a civilian which contributes to the mission’s rating.

Thankfully (or maybe not depending how much of a hardcore gamer you are), the reboot by Firaxis Games is a little more forgiving as compared to the original. While you still can get away with making minor mistakes on the battlefield, a major mistake is still going cost you quite a bit of heart pain.

The people at Firaxis Games have also done a great job in using the Unreal Engine to power the game. From the base layout to the XCOM operatives on the battlefield, everything looks up to date with today’s graphics’s standards. This is the same with the game sounds as music tracks add to the atmosphere and special effects like the various weapons are distinct enough.

Overall XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a game every strategy gamer, both fans of the original and those new to the series, should have in their collection. Not only has Firaxis Games done a good job in updating the game to today’s standards while keeping the original feel and direction intact, they have also added their own tweaks which everyone can appreciate regardless of the player’s gaming level.

If Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins is a good example of how a movie reboot should be done, then I would say XCOM: Enemy Unknown is how game reboots should be. Hopefully just like how we have had The Dark Knight & The Dark Knight Rises, Firaxis Games will continue to lend their magic to X-COM: Terror from the Deep and X-COM: Apocalypse.

Ratings: 4.5 out of 5 stars

by Kenneth Wong
© POPCulture Online 2012, All Rights Reserved.

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