XCOM is one hell of a game, from its humble beginnings as a lesser known PC strategy game that garnered a huge cult following, it’s remake XCOM: Enemy Unknown was a huge success. This brought hundreds of thousands of new players to the scene, creating many new fans of the tactical shooter genre.
This time around however a different approach has been taken. Gone is the traditional top down tactics based shooter, and this time around things are a lot more hands on, welcome to The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. This instance of XCOM involves a third person over the shoulder shooting experience with a lot of Enemy unknowns class and customisation levels intact.
The plot this time around revolves around FBI agent William Carter, tasked with investigating and stopping a threat to mankind..an unknown one...one might say...Enemy Unknown. The plot carries forward with the investigations of Carter and his people. Broken up into three types of mission, your main missions, side missions, and investigations you can delegate to your team members in order to receive boosts for both and yourself. During our preview we were also promised that dialogue trees will play a part in this story, with your choices affecting the life and death of certain characters and how their presence or lack thereof can drastically change the success of the XCOM project.
One of the first things to notice about this game is the high level of graphical detail. They all look absolutely awesome, I have been informed that a lot people who worked on Rockstar's "LA Noire" have moved on to do some work on this game. It really does show with some breathtaking facial visuals. Alongside this there is a good range of enemy types, all looking fantastic and unique with great visuals and destructive environments through the Unreal 3 engine. This is slightly let down by some less than perfect lip syncing however not enough to take away from the general look and feel of the game.
Gameplay is carried out via shooting sections carried out by yourself as the commander on field, it is your duty to direct your team mates to take cover, use certain abilities, etc, all in combinations to the best of your abilities of meet your objectives. To this end there are several different types at your disposal as there are in Enemy Unknown.The main classes are Support, Recon for ranged attacks, Engineers for your techwork, and commandos for your face to face down and dirty combat. Much in the same way of the original there is permadeath on all characters, and all aspects of them are customisable.
Speaking of the customisation, the system of creating new and improvement weapons is still here, alongside this you can uncover alientech in order to increase passive buffs of your choosing. Upon a press of a button, the entire level will go into super slow motion allowing you to pick which abilities you and your teammates will use a la Mass Effect. It is a great feature and functions perfectly well. One of the best things about the combat in this game is the different combinations of the abilities you have available to you, got one enemy who’s tough as nails and hiding behind cover? Get your engineer to drop a mine near him and your commando to taunt the sucker on to it. Your enemies in places too awkward to fire at? Have your engineer drop a sentry and you use your lifting ability to give it a height increase to shoot enemies behind cover.
Now from what we played the game was shaping up to be pretty awesome, the initial reaction to XCOM being a third person shooter was negative, which is why they chose to stick with the original style for Enemy Unknown, now that that has come out, this is the chance for the shooter to show its stuff. While the lip syncing isn’t perfect, the cover system can be a bit hit and miss, and it can be a little confusing at first particularly if you aren’t used to this type of game, you pick it up with ease within a few minutes. With multiple enemy types, different weapons, dialogue trees and endless combinations and unlockable perks and buffs, you wage your own war, and the lives of your men are your hands. Declassified is out August 23rd on all major consoles.