The lights are on
Xcom is a game that I have been looking forward to for some time. I have never been great at strategy games, but this one grabbed my attention from the first time I started reading about it. While my wife scoffed at the idea of aliens attacking Earth, cliched and what have you, I thought more about the tough decisions that will have to be made to ensure the survival of the human race, free of alien slave collars.
The core gameplay of Xcom is pure strategy. You are given control over a team of 4 rookie soldiers, and it's your job to instruct them on what to do, slaughtering and capturing aliens along the way. You are in control of what to research and build to supply your team with cutting edge artillary and armor. Oh, and by keeping them alive longer, they move up the ranks, gaining new skills and increased stats. It certainy hurts losing a high ranking officer to a couple well placed critical shots. That poor soul is gone for good and will forever be remembered on the memorial wall.
While upgraded weapons and armor help immensely, cover is your best friend on the battlefield. If you don't keep your team together and under cover, you're all the more likely to aggro multiple groups of aliens, causing you to quickly be outnumbered, flanked, and annihlated. Though of course keeping them too close could result in several soldiers getting lost to one well placed grenade.
When not in combat, you are presented with 2D view of your base, which allows you to dig deeper into the ground and continue to expand. Deeper you go, the more it will costs. Here you watch over the world and can deploy satellites to cover more countries and view the panic levels of each one. More satellites equals more money and more resources granted each month. You have to balance your limited income against hiring soldiers and building items for them to use, like laser weapons and better armor, as well as producing more facilities like power generators and satellite uplinks, allowing you to fire off more satellites.
The pacing of the game as you're going through is utterly addicting. Scanning the world for alien activity allows time to fly by, which means constantly finishing and starting new research, always putting another carrot on a stick in front of you. You never know when an alien will attack, or the frequency of them, which keeps you on your toes as your scanning.
There are a few minor things that bothered me as I played through, namely I experienced a couple funny graphical glitches with the menus that could only be remedied by restarting the game. Also it is infuriating losing men by shots that clearly passed through an object before smashing into their face. Of course I never felt this way when I took out aliens through an object, but it was still annoying to watch shots fly through walls, cars, and book cases. While irritating, these were not enough to put me off of this fantastic game.
I give this game 9 dead aliens out of 10.
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