XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a turn-based tactical game developed by “Firaxis Games” and published by “2K Games” in 2012. It’s a pretty well thought and developed strategy game in general and one of the best on its category. You are playing as an international paramilitary organization called “XCOM”, created by the leaders of the strong countries of the world and your job is to protect the Earth from any alien invasions. You are based in an underground facility and through that you have to surveil the planet for incoming alien spaceships, assaults or abduction attempts. In case of an incident, you are supposed to reply to the call with your fighter aircrafts and a group of 1 to 6 soldiers, each one from a different countries. You have the role of the Commander in all of these. Once every enemy wave has been eliminated and their bases have been destroyed, you have saved the day.
Each country which is funding and supporting your organization has given you a few specialists. You reply to your calls by sending out between one to six of these specialists. You, as a commander, are supposed to pick who will go to where, what they will carry (equipment) and finally how they will deploy and fight their battles. Each soldier has his/her own class. There are recons, assaults, heavy and support soldiers. With every mission your soldiers level up and gain new traits and special abilities. You need to select that group who will lead you to victory and will have the less casualties. Once every soldier has been deployed on the battlefield, you need to have them taken cover, one at a time. Round by round you will move and reveal a larger area of the map. Once the aliens have been discovered, they get into alert positions and they try to eliminate. Depending on your goals at that stage, you need to either kill them or capture them alive. The aliens, just like your soldiers, have different classes and thus traits. Learning how far from them is the safe distance, how each class moves, how they can be approached and eliminated will be a huge benefit for your side.
Regarding your headquarters, that is were everything starts. In your expandable underground base you need to deploy your organizations resources. Apart from the soldiers, there are numerous more people on the backround who assist in their own way. There are the scientists, settled in their Laboratory, who try to uncover every secret the bodies, weapons and equipment of the aliens hide in order to assist you in your fight against them. Then you have the engineers, settled in their Workshop, who can expand your base, build new fighters and make new weapons and equipment. Apart from these rooms you have the Hangar for your fighters, the Barracks where you can see your soldiers, train them or hire new ones, the Situation Room which you use to overwatch your satellites, to access the Grey Market and sell your alien equipment or bodies for extra cash and to view any state requests for assistance and last but not least you have the Mission Control Room which you use to surveil the situation on Earth.
As the title of this review says, everything is about tactics. It’s up to you if the game will be easy or hard. Even the most difficult mission can be made easy with the right tactics. Choosing the most appropriate soldiers, with the right equipment and placing them strategically on the battlefield will theoritically grant you victory. Behold though as the more you progress into the game, the harder the Al becomes. Aliens will use cover with every chance, will be more accurate and will come in larger numbers. Not only you have to be careful in every battle but you also need to be careful where you choose to fight. If you leave one of the countries which support your organization undefended for a long time, it will cause its panic levels to rise. Once the panic level go red, the country stops supporting and funding you and its situation goes out of control. The more countries that reach the maximum of the panic level, the harder it becomes for you to win the game.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is literally one of the best games i’ve ever played from the strategy and tactics side. You don’t need skills, you cannot have and use overpowered units or equipment to win, you just have your mind to use. And that’s what makes it so special! If i had to compare XCOM with similar games like Valkyria Chronicles for instance, i would say that XCOM is by far more superior in the strategy area.
However, even though it is that good as a strategy game, it is very unpleasant at certain points visually! At the first scene of the game for example you will notice a screen which for me is appropriate only for adults with a strong stomach! I haven’t personally a more disgusting scene in a strategy game lately. As you progress in game it doesn’t get better due to the corpses that lie around in a pretty bad visual represantation. Due to these scenes my excitement when i first got the game in my hands quickly wore off and if it wasn’t for the great tactical planning of the game i discovered later in the gameplay, i would have abandoned it quickly and i would have written an extremely negative review. I would recommend you pay attention to my words and not purchase the game if you are sensitive with extremely creepy images. The scenes are that bad, ugly and macabre that i must take out more than 3 points out of 10 from its rating. If it wasn’t for these scenes, i would give it a 10/10. (Editor: As you can notice by Ainslie and Warwick’s scores for the game we weren’t nearly as offended as Valkyren Saga).
With that being said, consider your stance. I would recommend you to watch a couple of videos from its gameplay on Youtube before you go forward and purchase it. If you don’t mind these scenes and you wish a strategy masterpiece then get this game. On the other hand, if you think that this is too gory for you, i recommend you to choose another game.