XCOM: Enemy Unknown

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“Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”

Opening with this haunting quote from sci-fi guru Arthur C. Clarke, XCOM is a turn-based tactical shooter in which you oversee military action on behalf of Planet Earth to repel a terrifying alien invasion.

XCOM starts out simply enough, with a level designed to familiarise new players to the turn-based action. You move your troops one by one around an isometric landscape until you spot some aliens. Then, basically, you plug ‘em. As the game progresses the action gets increasingly complicated, as different soldiers gain different skills and weaponry, and your enemies become increasingly sophisticated.

Once missions are over you return to your base and switch from field general to general manager, overseeing all aspects the XCOM organisation. This involves assigning tasks to your scientific research team, getting your engineers building new tech, promoting and equipping soldiers and watching over the globe to intercept new threats as they arise.

It all builds into an incredibly immersive experience. The world is soon hot with conflict sending you around the world to run missions, while at the same time managing resources and politics, as countries either pour financial support into the XCOM project, or withdraw one by one leaving you struggling to hold your paramilitary resistance army together. Whichever way you turn you are going to fall short, losing troops in combat, and being outwitted by the advancing alien threat. The game’s strength is that it keeps you constantly on the back foot trying to manage an escalating crisis. The battles work well and the death of your favourite soldiers will hit you hard.

XCOM is an excellent tactical game, that plays out with precisely the right mix of action and strategy.

stars4Publisher: 2K Games
Platform: Xbox, PC, PS3
Age: 12+
Price: £29.95

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