We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

PAX Prime 2012: XCOM: Enemy Unknown Preview

How is Firaxis' re-imagining coming along? Here's what we think after playing it at PAX 2012.

If you were to walk the show floor at PAX Prime and survey any random passerbyer about the franchise theyre most excited is making a return, youd find that nearly every single one of those people would bring up XCOM. It was always a favorite in the eyes of PC gamers and revolutionized the turn-based strategy genre, but it fell off after a few sequels. Series fans should fret not, because XCOM is back and its here with a vengeance. As is typical for an XCOM title, aliens land on earth and things start going awry very quickly. We dont know much about them or even what they are, but we still need to figure out whats going on and how we can stop it. There are reports of alien sightings and we havent heard from one of our teams in Germany. Thats where our team from the PAX demo comes in. We saddle up and make our way toward Germany. Soon after landing, the gameplay begins. This first level is just a simple tutorial area that takes quite a while to get going, but the core gameplay is worth the introduction. In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, you move each member of your squad around the map individually. They can only move a certain distance per turn, but they can also give up their action ability and sprint to reach further distances. This is a really cool tradeoff, because it allows you to move quickly across the map, but also leaves you somewhat vulnerable to enemy fire. You have to decide which route is better for you to take, so it all depends on your play style. I quickly learned that despite the need to keep combat flowing, XCOM: Enemy Unknown requires patience and that you need to think about your strategy for much longer than it takes you to actually execute it. Sure, you can move around quickly and play things loose and fast, but thatll probably end up in you losing some members of your team. You dont want to lose any members either, as youll level them up after completed missions, so you need to keep veteran soldiers around as long as you can to preserve their upgrades. After each mission, youll return to headquarters for mission briefings, team management, and scientific research. This becomes the hub that the game takes place around, and it ends up working extremely well. It isnt difficult to navigate and works just as well with an Xbox 360 controller as the rest of the game does. In this facility, you can choose different upgrade paths for your characters and weapons. After each encounter, youll have the option of choosing two different types of material to research. One might improve your armors resistance to alien technology, while another might increase weapon damage, so again, its really all about your different play style. If you like to play a bit more defensively, youd go for the improved armor, but if youre the run and gun type, youre probably better off going for the increased weapon damage. This will continue throughout the entire game, so youll constantly be making decisions that effect how things play out in your world. You can also upgrade your characters' equipment and thus change how later levels will play out. For instance, I gave the soldier who survived the first mission a rocket launcher. While this might not seem like such a big deal, I was able to blow up a building instead of taking the time for the aliens inside to kill me because I had it. It changed the way that the level could have played out and worked brilliantly. The section of the game that I played was very focused and would only let you level up certain areas at a time, but that wont be the case once you get beyond the starting area of the game.Theres still so much of XCOM: Enemy Unknown that we havent seen yet, but based on whats been seen so far, I dont think we have anything to worry about. It has classic XCOM gameplay with beautifully done HD graphics, and that sounds like a win to me. Well have more coverage as we approach XCOM: Enemy Unknowns October 9th release date.

IDG UK Sites

Nexus 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 comparison: Lollipop phablet takes on KitKat flagship smartphone

IDG UK Sites

Why people aren't upgrading to iOS 8: new features are for power users, not the average Joe

IDG UK Sites

Free rocket & space sounds: NASA launches archive of interstellar audio on SoundCloud

IDG UK Sites

iPad Air 2 review: Insanely fast and alarmingly thin. Speed tests, camera tests, beautiful...