Title Redacted: The Bureau

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

XCOM: Enemy Unknown was everything I hoped it would be. A love note to the original series, clad in sleek visuals and an intuitive interface. Especially on Iron man mode, it lost none of the tension and difficulty I remembered from UFO Defense.

Before Enemy Unknown was announced, there was already a new XCOM in development. At the time billed as a first person squad shooter, this XCOM took place in the 50's and featured strange, amorphous oozes and gigantic crystalline obelisks. While the design was intriguing, I had my doubts about the series' new direction. 

Just as more information about the game was released and it seemed they had retained the spirit of the original series, the project went dark (somewhat ironically). The few reports that did emerge said that it was cancelled, remade into Enemy Unknown, was shelved due to budget issues, still existed as a possible mobile game and finally resurfaced as XCOM: The Bureau Declassified.

It's return has brought with it an incredible series of live action ads. It's pure conspiracy porn at it's heart, reminding me of my junior high days obsessed with Project Blue Book, Area 51, Roswell, and the Mantell Incident. We've also been treated to a few feature and gameplay videos showcasing the games mission sequences.

The most significant difference between this game and the one we saw previewed at E3 in 2010 seems to be the new third person perspective, as well as a different design scheme for the enemies. Each team member has specific abilities and equipment. Some of it works well in tandem with others' gear, encouraging players to coordinate attacks and try out new strategies and combinations. It's an interesting move, especially considering that I've heard very few complaints about the turn based play in other XCOM games.

It also appears that this is something of a prequel to Enemy Unknown, showing the early days of the Bureau. You still research new tech and evaluate the enemies you capture, it's all done just a little differently this time. A somewhat darker tone (if the live action scenes are any indication), smaller squad size and an apparent focus only on North America.

 It still looks fairly polished, and I expect to immerse myself deep in the mythology before playing it. I've got to admit that it brings out the squeeing thirteen year old in me, drooling over the setting and the secretive allure of alien secrets. I can't wait. Time to start listening to Coast to Coast again.