Review: XCOM Enemy Unknown

"Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not.  Both are equally terrifying." - Arthur C. Clarke

That is the first thing you see when you boot up XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and it really makes you think as well as freak you out.  After that you are brought into a quick intro video that shows pods from space plummeting down to Earth that then release some sort of gas that starts to grab humans left and right.  Thus begins the downfall of the human race....or does it?

XCOM puts you in the position of commander of a secret agency where you train soldiers, research weapons/alien technology, build an underground layer of defense while also keeping the nations around the world allied with XCOM.  Seems like a lot doesn't it?  Well it is.

XCOM features every type of gameplay there is out there probably except for racing, and FPS.  You have turn based strategy, third person shooting, RPG leveling systems, RTS elements as well.  As you start you begin with a tutorial mission where you learn to use your ground troops.  The system works where you are allowed to move your characters two positions by either one at a time or a sprint all at once.  Once all characters have made their turns then it will be the aliens turn to move.  This repeats until all enemies are dead on either side.  You always need to be watching your back when you are positioning your soldiers as the slightest opening to lead to your defeat.

That is where XCOM gets interesting.  Once your soldiers die in the game, they are dead until the end.  You cannot revive your fallen comrades.  They will be forever remembered on the memorial wall while you hear bagpipe music playing softly in the background.  You are also allowed to rename your soldiers to whatever you wish whether it be close friends, family members, memorable movie characters, etc.  That also adds to the connection as from there you are able to modify the way each of your soldiers look by their skin tone to the clothes they wear.  You can literally spend hours customizing your four player loadouts.  You are also able to equip each soldier with items you will find necessary in the battlefield.  Shotguns for your run and gunners, assault rifles for your leaders, medpacks for your snipers, the choice is yours.  You will run into many different enemies while playing XCOM from the standard looking alien to the unique looking "Thin Man" that resembles an anorexic Men in Black.  If you are able to capture these "creatures" during battle you will be able to run "experiments" on them in your laboratory in your base to better understand them, and learn about their weaknesses.

This is what occurs after your battle.  After you finish your battle whether victory or loss you are brought back to your base that gives you a very user friendly layout.  From here you can access your workshop to build more facilities, dig deeper underground to expand, or build new weapons for your soldiers, or aircraft that are used to bring down UFOs.  The barracks is where you go to level up your soldiers.  If you are successful in your missions, and your soldiers make it back they will constantly level up letting you select "perks" that will further your soldiers ability whether it be longer site range for the sniper, or more help for your gunner.  This is where the RPG elements come into play with the leveling system.  You then have the laboratory where you can research alien bodies that you kill or keep alive, learn about alien weaponry and use them against them.

Then you have the command center where all the stats are there for you to look at.  The sole purpose of the game is to keep as many countries happy without going into "freakout" mode and abandoning the XCOM project.  You do this by making sure the countries are safe from aliens by launching satellites into space to track the alien movement.  You will have tough choices to make however as there will be scenarios you will have to choose what country you will leave behind, and which you will defend.  You want to keep as many countries protected as possible as that is where you get your spending to build and buy more materials.

XCOM is not an easy game by any means, but it is a very easy game to pick up and literally spend hours in front of enjoying trying to safe the world from an alien invasion. The question is; how will your story be written?