XCOM: Enemy Within

Never become too complacent with your position for you never know what’s to come.

XCOM: Enemy Within is a title that I picked up rather hesitantly after watching some Let’s Plays of Long War, which, if I am not mistaken, is a fan mod of the original game. It looked fun and it looked like it would scratch the futuristic science fiction itch that remained after enjoying the visual styles of Mass Effect. However, once I started playing I became engrossed with ending the alien threat and balancing the fickle nature of global politics to a satisfactory resolution.

I was also pleasantly surprised that you could actually lose the game if you lost enough countries.

It's quiet. Too quiet. I don't like- argh! Sectopod!

It’s quiet. Too quiet. I don’t like- argh! Sectopod!

It’s rare to find a modern game where you don’t have a near perfect chance to see the ending if you keep playing. In this case, every action, from responding to alien threats to using resources, has an effect somewhere somehow on some country. It can either be a positive effect to reduce panic or a negative one to increase panic. Or, in the worst case, to cause the country to withdraw from the XCOM project. This cuts funding, resources, and removes the chance to get the continent bonus. So, yeah, this is not a thing to be taken lightly. Every decision you make has repercussions somewhere and sometimes it’s purely because you can’t be in several places at once.

The good news is that you have all kinds of awesome things you can do to make sure you don’t lose these countries! Including, but not limited, to: building base facilities, hiring soldiers, training soldiers, building MEC Troopers, developing Psionic soldiers, doing covert operations, doing foundry projects, doing research projects, and much more.

The squad management is pleasantly refreshing. As, for the most part, with the regular soldiers, it’s just assigning armour and weapons which you can improve with research and foundry projects. But then you start to get into the delicious meat of building MEC suits for your MEC Troopers with their (ridiculously huge) miniguns and particle cannons, unlocking new and useful Psionic powers for those who are gifted, and even building some neat little killer robots referred to as S.H.I.Vs.

You certainly won’t run out of things to do with the number of options available. I mean, it’s not like anything bad will ever happen to them- right?

Wrong. One of the many things that XCOM: Enemy Within does to torture you is to make every soldier that dies in the field permanently lost. You really liked that Assault, huh? Well they’re dead now. That Heavy made it all the way to Colonel? Shame she’s a blood stain on a UFO now. It’s a distressing experience to lose someone who you have invested a lot into. Especially early in the game where you don’t have too many heavily armoured and well trained soldiers to throw at the opposition.

It’s a title that definitely boasts being able to replay it several times with the Second Wave options, the different choices you can make, the different missions you can get, and generally the whole experience being different every time you start. Which you might need to start a few times before you actually see the ending. But, let me tell you, there is nothing like getting to the final mission and feeling a wave of satisfaction to wash over you. Especially if your Doom Tracker is at 50% or less and all other countries are relatively happy with you. It’s like you got a massive hand and flipped the bird at the alien threat.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

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