XCOM Preview


2K Marin has joined the ranks of developers who are resurrecting aging franchises for the modern gaming era. XCOM is a first-person re-imagining of the classic turn-based tactics series wherein the idyllic, postwar society of the 1950s US is terrorized by the unknown — a hostile alien invasion — and must rely on the work of the government’s newly-formed, secret XCOM organization to ensure its safety.

XCOM, both the fictional organization and the very real video game, operates on two levels. First, there is the strategic planning, research, and development that takes place at XCOM HQ, which affords frontman William Carter the necessary resources to combat the alien threat. By snapping photos and bringing data and items back to XCOM’s scientists, new weapons and other methods of defeating the aliens can be researched. The organization’s engineer takes the scientists’ findings and turns them into very helpful realities to be used in later missions. One such example is the lightning gun. Yes, it’s a gun that shoots lightning.

Being set in the 1950s, weapons like the lightning gun — what sci-fi dreams are made of — stand in stark contrast to the iron-sighted rifles and six-shot revolvers most of the slacks-and-vest-clad characters appear to carry through white-picket-fenced suburbia. The atmosphere, of course, reeks of 1950s monster movies as a result… in a good way.


The other layer of XCOM is comprised of the missions themselves, which are accessed via the map table at XCOM HQ. From what I could gather from the E3 demo, these mission will likely span the entire United States, as the map on display showed pinpoints in a number of locations from coast to coast. New missions become available as the game progresses, allowing the player to choose which to embark on at any given point in the story. From there, it’s into the field for Agent Carter and associates.

While the presenters told us that there would be a variety of mission types, what we saw was XCOM’s response to a call for help in a typical, albeit ominously tranquil residential community. While the objective was to ensure the safety of the area’s civilians, the members of one household in particular, the demo also illustrated how XCOM will dynamically manifest side-missions as players explore the area in question. In this case, a cry for help led the demonstrator into a different house, only to find a push mower still running in the backyard and a man lying dead in his home — a victim of the aliens. These side missions are entirely optional, but as in this case, valuable research information can be attained by following the game’s leads.

As for the core play dynamics, nothing I saw was particularly remarkable. It appeared to be relatively low-intensity FPS fare with few outstanding mechanics. The game will surely thrive off of its story, theme, and ambiance more than its twitch shooter qualities, which will appeal to some gamers more than others. As for me, I’m optimistic and eager to see more. XCOM has no release date as of yet, but will be coming to the Xbox 360 and PC in what is hopefully the nearer-rather-than-further future.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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