XCOM: Enemy Unknown Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
XCOM: Enemy Unknown Box Art
System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360*
Dev: Firaxis Games
Pub: 2K Games
Release: October 9, 2012
Players: 1-2
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence

In between missions, you'll return to XCOM's underground base, where you'll micromanage the various aspects of the facility. You can expand the facility, recruit soldiers, manage the loadouts of each individual soldier, assign research projects, have your engineers upgrade your weapons, and so on. Additionally, your actions are monitored by the XCOM Counsel, which has representatives from major countries around the world. If you piss any of these countries off (either by ignoring them or by failing to protect their VIPs), the country's "Panic Rating" goes up. If a country's Panic Rating hits 5, the country will withdraw from the Counsel. If too many countries withdraw, XCOM is forced to shut down and it's game over. So yeah, don't piss these people off.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown Screenshot

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, you'll constantly be playing with a precarious balance, often asked to choose between defending three different countries, all of which are close to abandoning you. It can be stressful, especially for people determined to play a "perfect" game. Also, it's absolutely possible to get yourself trapped in a corner, unable to advance until you level up more troops, but unable to find missions that are easy enough for your rookie soldiers without having to risk some major country dropping off the Counsel. So you'll want to save often, and keep a plethora of back-up saves.

As far as aesthetic, Enemy Unknown has a couple weird things going on. While the battlefields look great, displaying an obvious attention to detail, the cutscenes will leave you unimpressed. There are choppy animations, awkward facial movements, poor character models, and flat textures. Additionally, there are times in combat when the camera will zoom in to highlight a specific moment, and these moments are quite often awkward. For instance, the camera will zoom in on a character who is making a kill, only to reveal that the character is pointing his gun in a completely different direction than the enemy. Also, when zooming in on characters who are dashing, the camera goes all over the place. I'm not sure if this was supposed to be a shaky-cam-type effect or if it's just an animation glitch that never got sorted. Either way, it happens frequently and it's tough to look at.

Ultimately, though, you're going to be playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown for its unforgiving strategic gameplay. If you can ignore the lame story and the sub-par visuals, there's a lot here to enjoy.

Josh Wirtanen
Editor / News Director
Date: October 10, 2012

Some neat detail, but whenever the camera zooms in on something, you get to see just how bad it actually looks.
There's a learning curve here, especially if you play the game on consoles, but it's still smooth and ultimately intuitive.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Some cheesy voice acting, but everything else sounds decent enough.
Play Value
Over 70 missions here, and your choices have such decisive consequences that you might want to replay the game a few times to see the impact of your actions made manifest in a variety of different ways.
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Worldwide Threat: Combat spans the globe as the XCOM team engages in over 70 unique missions, interacting and negotiating with governments around the world.
  • Strategic Base of Operations: Recruit, customize and evolve unique soldiers to take into battle, and then intercept and research alien technology to expand your weapons and capabilities.
  • Tactical Combat: Plan combat missions, direct the actions of your soldiers in incredible turn-based ground battles, and deploy air like the Interceptor and Skyranger units to stop the alien threat.

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