The lights are on
As someone who hasn't owned a gaming-worthy PC for the
better part of a decade, I guess I can safely be called a console gamer. While
I don't miss the hassle of installing and configuring games or playing them at
my desk with a keyboard and mouse, PC games still offer some gameplay features I
wish I could get on a console. That's why I'm excited for XCOM; not only is it
a new installment in the revered PC strategy series by the equally revered
developer Firaxis, but it's coming to consoles as well. Here are the aspects of
XCOM that I'm looking forward to.
A Welcome Dose Of StrategyAs a console gamer, the vast majority of my game time is
devoted to shooting things. I love explosive action as much as the next player,
but sometimes I want to flex that gray lump of matter between my ears.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown may star an unending supply of alien-blasting
soldiers, but it's still a strategy game – something we don't see a lot of on
home systems. The turn-based tactical action is still a novel and appealing
game format to me, and I'm looking forward to XCOM's base-building and resource
management elements as well.
I still don't understand how shooters haven't added this layer
of decision making to their formulas. Giving Call of Duty players the ability
to decide where to allot their forces and what supplies to equip them with in a
more open-ended theater of war would be awesome. Alas, I don't plan on calling
the shots in a console shooter any time soon, but XCOM should provide the dose
of strategy I'm looking for.
Same Campaign, Different ExperienceThe only thing more disappointing than a short-lived story
campaign is a short-lived story campaign that plays exactly the same should you
try to replay it. While some console games offer players a new game plus mode,
these still pale in comparison to a game structure that pits you against an AI
opponent capable of providing different outcomes and gameplay experiences. Strategy
games are especially appealing in this manner, as they function more like board
games than scripted narratives. The stories may not be as engrossing or feature
as many plot twists, but that's a small price to pay for being tested against
an opponent that makes actual decisions.
This is another game design that's woefully absent in
console games. For instance, what if in the next Saints Row, you actually had
to vie against a rival gang that reacts to you instead of moving down a list of
scripted missions to take over the city? There'd be a lot more incentive to
play the game more than once, and finally bringing down the rival gang boss
would be more rewarding as well.
We still don't know how much replayablility XCOM: Enemy
Uknown offers, and I was disappointed to hear the game doesn't feature randomly
generated maps this time around. However, it should still easily provide more
replayability than the scripted campaigns I'm used to.
Email the author Jeff Marchiafava, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.