XCOM: Enemy Unknown. You've only got yourselves to blame 2K -- or I guess, more accurately, Firaxis. Or you know what, even more accurately, XCOM fans. You all had to complain about a perfectly good game that could have provided some variety to the shooter genre and potentially been a great hybrid built by talented developers who had already shown they had the creative chops to really push themselves and the brand. But no, everything must be the exact genre it was upon creation. I mean it's not like any game has ever been one genre or scenario then became another... like... Deus Ex... Halo... Halo Wars... Team Fortress 2... Half-Life 2... Portal 2... Mass Effect... Star Wars: Battlefront... Star Wars: 1313...

Yeah, I can't think of any significant examples in our industry where taking a gambit with an IP into more popular genres and/or doing something new ever benefited us. Instead, let's play to an audience that's so old and isolated that all they seem to be good for anymore is to complain about how things aren't like in the "olden days" when things were "better".

Me? Bitter against nostalgic FANBOYS? PERISH THE THOUGHT!

This review is for the PS3 version of the game, along with a brief review of the PC version.

Things never look this interesting or intense in the game. I can quote viewers who suffered with me.

What an XCOM game should be:

XCOM is supposed to be about desperately fighting for every inch of ground against opponents far superior than you in a perfectly balanced situation where only your brains can get you and your soldiers through the war against invading aliens. You have to take from the aliens and adapt to survive in a harsh fight to just survive. The aliens are ruthless and cunning, and act at first as if you're an effortless flea standing in the way of their never explained goals of conquest. You build up a sense of ownership over your soldiers, and every permanent death is a pain on your mind and soul. It's an incredibly masochistic, yet satisfying experience. It's the sci-fi movie we've seen a thousand times, except this time we're the grumpy old commander having to give out the orders and figure out a solution to it all.

Sounds incredible, right? Now here is the game you'll be playing:

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a turn-based shooter. Normally I'd go paragraphs on talking about what works and what doesn't, but let me put it in terms that should matter to you, the consumer. This game SUCKS. It is boring as hell. I normally love FIraxis' work but this is just not cutting it. It is bad, plain and simply so. There are more bugs in the PC version than there were in the Battlefield 3 beta, and I was playing a -post release- copy that had over a year's worth of time to have it's bugs ironed out. The same goes for the PS3 version with bugs a plenty just they are more spaced out and sometimes harder to notice in comparison to MY PC COPY REFUSING TO SAVE MY GAME. Save games would be deleted and/or stop being saved on my PC at any given moment, and the PS3 version once got stuck on an infinite loading loop.

There is no strategy to this game, other than what it thinks is strategy. It plays like you are ordering AI in the most basic third person shooter on the market. This game runs on the same kind of logic as Gears of War, while toting itself as some sort of realistic masterpiece. The in game characters look like a line up of proof of concept models from a six month project by a wannabe Pixar impersonator studio. The animations are stiff and sometimes don't even play right. The levels have no color or sense of identity to them outside of maybe a Jutebox playing in a diner on one map. Skyboxes are often obviously disconnected from the battlefields. Voice overs sound like they might have been done by staff members they are so wooden and dry, along with genuine voices that are grating on your nerves at times. Your soldiers only say a few lines at best but oh, the three main people at your base never shut up, especially the German scientist lady. I would pay Firaxis fifteen bucks just to shut up her fake accent and horrible lines, and another ten to silence the American engineering guy.

Everyone speaks in English and lives in America-like areas no matter where you are in the world. There's about twelve maps in total, with no randomized elements besides where characters are placed, and a few scripted side missions and main missions that all use the same layouts prescribed to them. this wouldn't be as bad if the maps were distinct and had multiple ways to be played, but they all play the same as the mechanics aren't built to be flexible. Whether in a graveyard or a two story building, you are running by the exact same rules. XCOM wants you to play it the way it wants to be played, not how reality would have it run.

Classes are randomly selected, letting you potentially get screwed over by having none of one class. Although they compensate for this by making hiring soldiers the cheapest thing you can do in the game -- which doesn't really make sense, but a lot of prices make no sense as the game loves to just throw reality out the window for the sake of it's idea of what BALANCE is.

And it draws out this limited, repetitive content for hours. I spent over thirty hours trying to finish the campaign on PS3. I still haven't reached the end. I couldn't take it. Combined with my two attempts to play it to the end on PC, I have spent more hours playing a game I hate than I have most games I love. I've probably spent upwards of fifty to seventy hours trying to finish this goshdamn game for this review. I think total, maybe I had three hours of entertainment. Not fun, but I guess you could call it entertainment.

I hate that we got this instead of the original XCOM reboot concept, that was going to be far more true to the original strategy games than this. I hate that we ended up getting XCOM: The Bureau because this game did well. I hate that people try to defend this game when I can even see in their eyes that it is not a game they enjoyed. They think they should, they pretend they should, but really, they don't. It's more soulless and devoid of character than most of the budget shooters released on the market. I hate thinking this is the game that leads to the rebirth of strategy as a main genre because that means people will emulate this game. They will look to it for how to make strategy appealing to the masses.

The most sickening aspect though is just how Firaxis is getting away with giving so little support to the game. The PC version is basically abandoned with constant UI, control, AI, and other glitches and gamebreaking bugs. Fans have come up with mods to compensate for some of the issues -- but it's merely treating the symptoms. Civ V has more expansions than the original Sims, but Enemy Unknown is only just now getting it's first and possibly only expansion, which is adding little more than what I expect most mods would add if there were genuine tools to support it. The DLC released for the game is paltry at best, with a series of story missions to get one new specific squadmate and to be able to change the color of your soldiers armor.

Yes, you read that right. You get to pay for a frigging texture modpack!

There is nothing redeeming in this game other than to study it for game design purposes in how to not make a strategy game fun. Seriously, I mean it. I'd sooner buy someone a copy of Alpha Centuari or Civ 3 than give them a copy of this game for free. You don't have to ask me to give it a score or anything, just don't buy it. Please. I beg you. It is not the game so many reviewers claim it to be. I was expecting a 9.50/10 game. What I got was barely worth even playing as a free to play game. If I hadn't gotten it for free along with Bioshock Infinite, I'd probably be foaming at the mouth with upset at this.

I mean it, I'll have the RAGE review in a couple of days and then hopefully Arkham Origins after that.

Peace out.

*drops microphone*

Paradigm the Fallen

You couldn't pay me to replay this game.