The strategy genre is a tough nut to crack on consoles. Many
have tried, and many have failed. Here we have XCOM, a
game that nails it.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
For: X360, PS3, PC
XCOM comes from the same developers who made the
console adaptations of the acclaimed Civilisation
series of games. The basic premise of the game is that aliens
have launched an offensive on Earth, and as the commander you
have to defend humanity. You do this by controlling a team of
four (initially) and co-ordinating their movements and
actions on the various battlefields. When you are not doing
that, you have to manage a base with research divisions and
construction used to increase your efficiency on the
battlefields. If that sounds complicated, that is because it
However, while it is deep and a little daunting at first, it
soon makes perfect sense. The same applies to the combat,
except in the opposite way. You start off thinking ''Oh yeah,
I think I've got the hang of this''. Next thing, your
previous tactics are completely useless when the game throws
a different kind of alien enemy at you. The constant need to
be dynamic and adaptable in terms of tactics adds real depth
to the combat.
As well as being deep, the game is extremely challenging,
even on the lower difficulties. Even though the soldiers are
generic (although able to be customised), you find yourself
building an attachment to them. One false move, however, and
they find themselves in the memorial section of your facility.
The enemies are ruthless and cunning, constantly attempting to
outflank you on the battlefield. Completing the game on Classic
difficulty with Ironman mode enabled is up there with the
toughest of gaming challenges.
The research and construction element is also adaptable to
your style of play. You can focus on increasing the quality
of your squads' armour and defensive abilities, or choose to
forgo that and put time into researching plasma and laser
weapons that make short work of most of the enemies, but at
the expense of the survivability of your squad.
XCOM would have been my game of the year last year if
it were not for the superb Walking Dead game. It is deep,
pretty to look at (mostly), but most of all, it is different.
I cannot think of another game like it that I've played on
this generation of consoles.
I hope that the success of this game will lead to other
developers realising the strategy genre is not impossible to
crack on consoles and we will see more games like it.
If you are tired of playing shooters such as Call of
Duty, or adventure games, such as Assassins Creed,
then XCOM is the breath of fresh air that you are
- Simon Bishop