Tobold's Blog
Monday, November 18, 2013
Fighting aliens

As far as science knows, there are no aliens. Or if there were, they live so far away that they could never visit. So SciFi about aliens is more fiction than science. Nevertheless, killing aliens in XCOM: Enemy Within is great fun. The expansion came out Friday, and I've been playing all weekend.

If you consider XCOM: Enemy Within as a standalone game, you would probably have to say that it is way too complicated. But as an expansion of Enemy Unknown it succeeds: The added story lines and options bring more variety into the game, which is exactly what the fans wanted. You can now further modify your soldiers with cybernetic implants, with genetics modifications, or give them bonuses in the form of medals. There are new types of missions, like the EXALT infiltration missions. And there are a lot of new technologies to research.

Having said that, the game still suffers from the same two major flaws: You still just follow a linear story which is the same every time and thus not very motivating in the long run. And you still can lose a combat or even the game by bad luck, because your soldiers or a complete country panicked and starts a fatal chain reaction. I find it especially annoying that you can only do panic reducing missions if one randomly pops up, so once you deployed your satellites there is not much that you can do if the alien abductions randomly happen in two major crisis areas at the same time. Panicked countries quit the council, cutting your funding, and that might then cause you to not have the resources you need, until you find yourself in a death spiral half way through the game and need to start over. On the other hand you could say that those two flaws to some extent cancel each other out: As you already know how the story ends, it is less annoying if you don't make it to the end. But of course when you start over you WILL miss all the nice gadgets you built up in the previous game.

Apart from that XCOM: Enemy Within does most things right, and you quickly get into a "just one more battle" mindset that has you playing longer hours than you had foreseen. Recommended!

I bought it (thanks for reminding me). Didn't get too far with it but I'm liking the mechs. And the stealth aliens are pretty cool!.
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