WeView: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Well it was both the staff’s and the community’s strategy game of 2012, and now it’s time for us to take a more detailed look at just why XCOM performed so well. What was it about battling an alien invasion on a global scale that held such appeal for everyone?

Well maybe it was the game’s AI, something that Peter selected for praise in his review of the game. He noted that “The enemy AI has the fantastic knack of knowing which of your units to outflank and gang up on,” and essentially praised the way that it makes you think and manage your troops. If you fail in that task then you’ll end up with panicked troops, and that in turn leads to missed shoots and spreading terror that can take out an entire squad if you’re unlucky.

[drop2]He also enjoyed the game’s pop-culture references, with enemies “seemingly lifted directly from a 1950s B-movie”. That kind of thing is likely to endear enemies to you even if they are trying to slaughter you, a tricky task in a strategy title.

Then there’s the global nature of the game, with your success in an individual mission reflected in the level of panic of that region of the world. Of course improving one region doesn’t effect the globe as a whole and managing those various regions forms a nice meta-game, creating a bridge between missions and adding a sense of connectivity to the game as a whole. There’s also intelligence gathering and research tying the whole thing together, a nice touch that pushes the importance of a mission beyond the mission itself.

Peter really did find a lot to like in the game, rating it at 9/10 and wrapping up the review by saying:

This is a great game, packed with finely tuned systems in all areas of the gameplay. The music is really excellent, with a main theme that will linger with you and perfectly fitting sound design for weaponry and incidental noises. Some of the dialogue delivery is a bit dry and stilted but the writing is solid enough. Imagine a kind of mix of Fringe and Stargate and you’ll be in the right ballpark. It’s difficult to find an area of XCOM that’s flawed enough to warrant major complaint and while there are a few very minor niggles, it’s nothing you couldn’t (or shouldn’t) overlook.

As per usual it’s time to throw open the doors to your opinions on the game. Peter may have absolutely loved it, and its strategy game of 2012 status seems to back up that love, but the question is really whether or not you appreciated it and the same way? Did you enjoy fighting back the alien menace, or did the game not manage to sink its claws into you?

If you feel like sharing your opinions on the game then all you need to do is drop a comment below, remembering to add your verdict on the game. You can select your verdict from one of four categories: Buy It, Bargain Bin It, Rent It or Avoid It. Just add one of those to your comment and it’ll be added to the tally in Monday’s verdict article, as long as you have your comment written by Sunday afternoon.



  1. Buy It. One of my favourite games of last year. It may be based on a really old game but it seemed like a breath of fresh air amongst a sea of third person action games and first person shooters. More tense than any FPS has ever been.

  2. Brilliant game. Brutally unforgiving but all the better for it. The missions don’t vary too much but with the constant introduction of new enemies, it always feels fresh.

    Just beware, you really need your thinking cap on to get the most out of this.

    Buy It.

  3. A lot of times when I’m playing a game I think about other games I could be playing instead – not with Xcom. Completely absorbing, challenging and extremely well balanced.
    BUY IT!

  4. Unforgiving and brutal but so much fun and so satisfying. I’ve never come across a turn based strategy game where I’ve felt profound emotional attachment to my units. Still playing this regularly, months later.

    BUY IT (you fools)

    • Hmmm you just took what I said and flipped it. Get your own opinions ;)

  5. XCOM is one of the finest turn based strategy games. It’s deeper than most and being a time sink with hours and hours of tactical entertainment, it’s hard not to find your monies worth.

    Buy it, or would you rather have Earth fall in the hands of alien scumbags?

  6. I made quite a long post in an XCOM thread on the forums about why this game is so good; the long and the short of it was you must Buy It.

  7. Buy it. It’s fantastic.

  8. Buy it nuff said

  9. This was the game I was looking forward to most in 2012. As someone who still lists Laser Squad as one of his favorite games of all time and as a youngster played UFO and Terror From the Deep for more hours per week than I currently put in at work, I had a lot of hope riding on this one. It didn’t dissapoint. It had everything I remembered fondly with (kind of) better graphics and just as much if not more depth.

    I have a couple of online friends who bought it and hated it. When I asked them why? The words I heard a lot of were “too slow”, “too difficult”, “not enough action”, “boring”, “crappy graphics”. While I agree that the graphics aren’t it’s strong point, I also feel they’re not the point of the game either. I have come to the conclusion that they didn’t understand what they were buying. I don’t mean that in a conceited way. I just mean it’s a very under represented genre on consoles and maybe came as a surprise/dissapointment that it wasn’t an RTS (though I still feel it would be like me buying Journey and complaining that there weren’t enough guns or explanation)

    I think Firaxis did a stunning job of bringing a turn based strategy game to consoles and would love to see more of an expansion (a la Terror from the Deep) or even a full fledged sequel. BUY IT (as long as you know what you’re buying)

    • Nice review, I was thinking of bargain binning it with Ni no kuni coming up but maybe I will buy it kind sir. I’m so glad it’s turn-based, there’s enough action in almost every other game.

  10. My GOTY 2012 and best game in past 5 years imo. Superb and hellishly addictive and difficult. Impossible ye gief me nightmares.

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