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Post by Eorl @ 01:32pm 12/10/12 | 45 Comments
One of the bigger releases this year, XCOM: Enemy Unknown revives the XCOM franchise, staying true to what fans loved in the original strategy game while evolving and growing the experience to appeal to all gamers.

We had our resident strategist GunSlingerAUS take on the very appealing title and his thoughts have filtered back to us through time and space to let us know the results.
As commander of the Earth you simply can’t save all of the people, all of the time. Whether it’s letting China succumb to public panic as you divert resources to cover the American continent, or sending in a rookie to soak up damage on a suicide run so that your veterans don't die, XCOM will give you a scary appreciation of the harsh realities of being a leader in a time of crisis.
Click here for the full review

xcom: enemy unknownreview
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Latest Comments
Posted 02:53pm 12/10/12
Wasn't expecting a 9 for this.

I'll probably check it out after a patch addresses those release issues.

Thanks, man!
Posted 04:04pm 12/10/12
Strategy game? Interesting.
Posted 04:14pm 12/10/12
i'm gunna give this a go. i tried the demo & was underwhelmed by it... but i do want to see how they have done aspects of the old game that aren't in the demo... like base defence / attack.

i guess the guy doing the review never played the older version of the game? coz 3 paragraphs describing how s*** turn-based games are is an odd way to start a review imo. also the deal about losing your troops... xcom veterans don't give a s*** about troops till they get psionics ;)

still decent review. will buy (prolly).
Posted 04:41pm 12/10/12
Have bought, looking forward to playing once I get home.

The demo is crap and doesn't really show what the game is like at all. I don't know why they released it really, besides maybe a larger scale beta test.
Posted 05:33pm 12/10/12
I think the community was wondering how base attacks were going to work due to the way they've designed the base builder UI & some were wondering whether it was in there at all. This is from Gamespy preview interview with Jake Solomon (xcom designer at Firaxis) earlier in the year:

GameSpy: Does that base ever come under attack?
JS: Yeah. Later missions, we're not talking about.

From what I can gather they don't want to talk about how the base attacks work because of story spoilers, but I can't say for sure.
Waiting to get home to fire it up!
Posted 07:38pm 12/10/12
It does a reasonable job of modernising UFO:Enemy Unknown. It falls short in a couple of areas;

1. Inventory management has been simplified to the point where you can't equip the soldiers with what you want. What about the grenadier???

2. No free aim, you know there is a hostile behind that wall but you cant just shoot at/through the wall, grr.

3. Only 1 base, I really liked multiple bases but o well I get why they don't do it.

4. Only 4-6 soldiers per mission. I like more but o well.

5. The Enemy AI is a bit craptacular prior to initial engagement, they don't really move around until you see them.

Most of the points above are negatives when compared to the masterpiece that was UFO:Enemy Unknown (which also had bugs, lolz at clocking the Stats of a soldier). However, they game in its own right is good. I do dislike the invenotry management and Classes system. I should be able to build whatever soldier layout/skill type I want and not be locked into a class.

Hopefully future patches will add in Free-aim and boost the AI a bit.

The difficulty is pretty good though, I was scared it was going to be a simple affair.

Also for the Die Hard UFO fans like myself. There is a Kickstarter funded game: Xenonauts that is far closer to the original UFO.
Posted 08:03pm 12/10/12
I like most of the design changes. The only thing I don't like is having a single shared item slot for medkits, grenades, etc but I can see they did it to make you think a little harder about what to take.
Posted 08:12pm 12/10/12
Hey guys

You're correct, I didn't play the original for longer than an hour. I was going to mention this, but feel that this game stands on its own two feet as a re-imagining.

As for talking about my general distaste for the genre, that was an attempt to show in a light-hearted way that even if you're not a fan of turn-based strategy, XCOM could be the game that changes your mind. Normally we try to get genre experts to review the games, but we felt my experience in standard city-builders and RTS games would be relevant here. The fact that I don't normally enjoy turn-based strategies shows how XCOM has tweaked the formula to appeal to a wider audience. Whether they've turned away hardcore turn-players at the same time is up for debate, but based on the XCOM veterans posting on the offical forums, I reckon 75% love it, 15% are indifferent, and 10% want to murder the developers and their family. Of course that 10% are around for every game, no matter the title.
Posted 08:33pm 12/10/12
I'm borderline on that 10%. You don't go and use the name of a Sacred Game unless you are prepared to really nail it. To be fair, they came close. And to come close means that the game is pretty darned good, if they nailed it, the game would be spectacular.
Unfortunatly part of the charm of the original are those sysmtes they thought 'were too complex and not fun' Extra base management and invenotry management are the two. Those two options expanded the stratigic options available to players quite considerably. Use of grenadiers for instance, and my pure manufacture bases, mulitple intercepters launched from differnt locations to deal with multiple threats, and sometimes just to deal with 1 threat because you know your first aircraft was going to fail...

Blowing out of walls with C4 and grenades to get to aliens more safely.

I really, really don't understand why we cant free aim and shoot out walls and whatnot. That part to me doesn't make sense.

Again though, to be fair, the game on its own rigth is good.
Posted 08:50pm 12/10/12
Blowing out of walls with C4 and grenades to get to aliens more safely.

I really, really don't understand why we cant free aim and shoot out walls and whatnot. That part to me doesn't make sense.
Grenades and rockets are free aim, and that lets you blow out walls whenever you like.
Posted 10:49pm 12/10/12
Just bought the game, thank you CJ's. as far as giving it a 9, i think its a tough call, on the one hand its a pretty awesome game, on the other this is a 'AAA' title with A LOT of bugs (too many to list)..

yet I don't find myself not be too upset about the bugs cause i think most of them can/will be fixed with patches.. maybe it deserves and 8 or 7 until they fix the bugs.
Posted 12:30am 13/10/12
whats with all the bloody movie interruptions whenever you click anything at base...

farking annoying!
Posted 01:03am 13/10/12
1850 MB patch... Zing!
Posted 06:32pm 13/10/12
Does anyone else have trouble hearing nothing but Optimus Prime when that dude talks? (p.s. It is the same voice).

Posted 06:52pm 13/10/12
Haha what has been heard cannot be unheard.
I keep wondering why Professor X doesn't bother to turn the light on.
Posted 08:04pm 13/10/12
Yea way overboard with that voice. Hate it.
Posted 01:45am 14/10/12
I'm borderline on that 10%. You don't go and use the name of a Sacred Game unless you are prepared to really nail it. To be fair, they came close. And to come close means that the game is pretty darned good, if they nailed it, the game would be spectacular.
Unfortunatly part of the charm of the original are those sysmtes they thought 'were too complex and not fun' Extra base management and invenotry management are the two.

Yeah after playing it for a bit, they've nailed the atmosphere and the difficulty but it stumbles in other areas. It comes pretty close but doesn't quite have as much depth as UFO did. It's a great game and I'm not disappointed I think it deserves it's 9, but UFO was an excellent game so it's a nearly impossible standard.

The lack of inventory micromanagement and battlescape time units has it's good points and its bad points. I'm happy to play this and to give Xenonauts and UFO:AI a try as well. It's definitely nice to see commercial dev studios at least having a play with the X-COM formula and see how well they can do.

I've heard about but haven't seen any game stopping bugs yet, but I have seen some pretty funky ones that will likely get attention in coming patches. I would recommend getting it unless you're one of those people that avoid tactical shooters like the plague.
Posted 09:54pm 14/10/12
As someone who never played the originals I find myself comparing XCOM to Jagged Alliance: Back in Action, and I would have to say that Jagged Alliance is the better of the two, simply because of the depth of control provided. Still enjoying XCOM, but constantly left thinking how much better it could have been with more depth.
Posted 10:17pm 14/10/12
Jagged alliance remake was s***. I rage quit when my well laid plan failed after my dude shot a friendly in the back while attempting to shoot thru him at an enemy. Also some other things i thought were BS such as my dude on a roof behind cover being out gunned by some random dude below in the open.
Posted 12:10am 15/10/12
Haha that's like me in Hidden and Dangerous and it's sequel. Slowly sneaking past fortifications, and poke my head out from around a corner to get a look at what's ahead and some Nazi soldier snipes me from across the map with a luger. RAGE.
Posted 01:16am 15/10/12
Jake was saying in one of his promo interviews the reason for lack of free aim is technical; they have a number of 'destructible environment' implementations (2 I think) but the problem is the new XCOM is not fixed block/vector based like the original; a wall could conceptually be a larger 'segment'. So basically I think it works half the time and the other half you get a gaping hole the size of Montana..
*shrug* the gaming market has changed. New Doctor Who is not Old Doctor Who. There will have to be some give and take.
Posted 07:51am 15/10/12
I'm really enjoying this, one of the better games I've bought this year.
Posted 11:45pm 16/10/12
Just started playing this; it's awesome! Really loving it.

I only played the original once or twice so am not a die-hard.

I've been playing the tutorial; seems like all the events are randomly generated, and the non-tutorial one is quite different, no scripted story+cut-scenes? Can anyone confirm?

I'm having trouble getting lots of satellites up quickly. Already got a mad alien hunting squad named after the Aliens marine crew.
Posted 09:36am 17/10/12
The cut-scenes are still available in non-tutorial.

I'm playing in Classic mode and it's a bit hard. Getting satellites up quickly is pretty full on. You have to build base facilities just right. Make sure you get all the bonuses by building the same buildings next to each other. Satellite uplinks next to each other give you a +1 extra satellite (something I didn't know damn it).

A couple of months in and only 1 country has left XCOM. Love my sniper that has 100% hit and 70% Crit from across the map (elevated) and my Support with 3 medkit uses (a must IMO).
I gave my 1 single plasma rifle to the Assault chick, she has sooo many kills to her name.
Posted 09:57am 17/10/12
Yea 3x med kit use is a must, should honestly be standard for support class. Same with squad sight for sniper, should be standard.

I lost all of North America and China before I got the satellite situation under control.
Posted 10:11am 17/10/12
Already got a mad alien hunting squad named after the Aliens marine crew

Nice parallel, those guys died horribly one by one as well. :)

A couple of months in and only 1 country has left XCOM

This is one thing I neglected early on while struggling with money and the required numbers of engineers to launch satellites and it ended when Sth Africa left the project. :( Basically that means I miss out on shooting for the 'All In' Africa bonus for 30% more monthly income later.
Important lesson learned: Instead of struggling to balance the mole whacking of abduction sites across the world like I did, researching the priority items can push the story along enough to lower panic levels worldwide.

You're right though, 3 medkits are stupidly important. I usually bring my supports with the three medkit bonuses and heavy with the two frag grenades and then try to balance the rest out with another medkit, arc throwers and the nanotech underwear. Creeping into a crash site trying to stun some of the higher aliens to steal their weapons is still stressful though.

Did you dive into Ironman Toll? I'm sorta getting a feel for how the game plays first on Normal mode & only saving at the start of missions/reload & redo it when the team gets absolutely wiped out. After that I'll probably going Classic and/or Ironman.
Posted 11:21am 17/10/12
Ironman is for crazies, at least until you understand the game better.

My current game is Game 3, I switched to classic in Game 2. Then restarted when the enemies got way powerful, I was barely doing damage, my guys where level 1 or 2 and 7 countries had left the XCOM project thanks to a couple of wipes.

Now I'm doing a lot better with Laser rifles, and laser pistols. Love my snipers with Gunslinger. Just about to build the foundry and will be upgrading my pistols.

Need more satellites!
Posted 02:32pm 17/10/12
I'm enjoying the game but the bugs are annoying me, nothing game stopping just yet but I'd hate to lose someone due to a bug.

There's a couple of events that come along where you selling items to a country in need, it netted me $1500 on the first one and I thought - awesome, here's the badly needed cash I was after. I did this a couple of times. Now i have heaps of money but no mats to make/research anything grrrr! lol Thought I could regain the mats quickly but its just hasn't worked out that way

There's definitely room for improvement but its still lots of fun.

Now Trying to make more Ghost Armour so I can run around stunning aliens to increase my material/item income.

3 medkits are a must! or a crash test dummy to soak up all the incoming fire.
Posted 05:16pm 17/10/12
I had a show stopper bug. I was mid mission when the Aliens took their turn, then when they finished it just stayed on the the alien for evvveeerrrrrrr...

Then another alien jumped off the side of a building and disappeared. I had guys surrounding it and could hear it, but no line of site and no grenades. It fell behind a dumpster in a crack of 2 buildings. Eventually I managed to get my sniper to stand just in the right spot on top of a building to see it. ARG, that was lucky, I hadn't saved it for ages.
Posted 06:08pm 17/10/12
Heh, I had a Thin Man fall out of bottom of the map luckily no bad effects because it was just as I shot him dead, kill cam followed it down into the abyss but thankfully came back.

What's with the stupidly high sensitivity on the free-aiming though!? Feels like whenever I want to fire off a rocket or grenade I have to fight with the cursor to get it positioned without zipping off either left or right. Movement keys tend to help, it does something bizarre with the mouse.

Apparently the In The Zone perk can also be a little buggy when a sniper gets a reaction shot from overwatch.
I hope they fix any problems because it's awesome to have. Last night my Aussie sniper mopped up 3 Mutons and a drone in one turn - time for a cold beer after that effort I reckon. :D
Posted 09:54pm 17/10/12
I definitely need to start a new game... my squad have been smashed and noobs at higher levels are fodder. You really need them on their game in later levels, otherwise they always miss and the enemy always hits. Really s**** me, when there's like an 80% hit chance at close range and a noob shanks it... fark my noob snipers are rubbish for it
Posted 10:22pm 17/10/12
I had a Thin Man jump on the roof of a downed UFO and ran around up there the whole game. I had to split my squad up to cover as much of the roof as possible and wait until he eventually came into sight. Gravely wounded my fav sniper too when he did. Total prick imo.
Posted 11:31pm 17/10/12
I find that I'm comparing the game to mass effect not ever having played xcom. Both have nice elements and sucky elements.
Posted 07:33am 18/10/12
Yeah I'm realising, and after having a read of the xompedia, there's a lot of essential strategies I've been neglecting! Will try to rectify in my current game, though i reckons I'll lose Japan shortly.

I haven't seen any major bugs yet, fingers crossed. The Chrysalides are a b****.
Posted 07:41pm 18/10/12
Xcom competition

Terms and Conditions
Entries will be judged on the basis of correctness and creativity.

One of the nine winning entries
To steal a classic quote "It's time to kick ass and chew bubble gum. And I'm all out of gum."

Yep really creative.

I've told my brother to get either Xcom or Dishonoured for my birthday in two weeks, what would be the better game they both seem pretty awesome to me.
Posted 11:21pm 18/10/12
No Quarter.

Posted 11:06am 19/10/12
OK How I'm going so far: Maybe Spoilers.


Have a lineup of about 10 high quality soldiers. My usual 6 man team is Uber Sniper, 2 Heavies, 2 Assault and a Support/Medic. I have a couple backup heavies and snipers but no assault or support.
Unfortunaly my previous Uber Support was gunned down by his fellow comrade during the Alien Base mission. The Alien Commander mind controlled by heavy and since I had to capture the bugger I couldn't just kill him to release the heavy from Mind Control. So the next turn he ran after my support and murdered him.

The Alien Commander paid a heavy price though, he was captured and interrogated until it died.
I've had a fair few rookies die, they are my meatshield when things go wrong.

Pro Tip: Using the medkit to heal injured soldiers in the field results in no down time after the mission. Not sure why they don't just use the medkit to heal them at base, it seems they like to make your soldiers suffer through the pain. :/

Satellite coverage is going well. I have all of Europe under surveillance and recently all of North America, Australia and India pulled out of XCOM but everyone else is still in, every country except Brazil is in the blue.

I've just built my first couple sets of Titan Armour and just finished researching Ghost armour. My assaults are packing Plasma Rifles and Alien grenades, my Snipers are still using their stock sniper rifle, although I just finished researching Plasma Sniper Rifle.
Everything is going well, the latest council report gave an A and $750 to spend. Used it to build 1 more Firestorm, 2 plasma cannons, 2 titan armour and a thermopower plant.

Lol, I still don't have a foundry..

Posted 12:06pm 19/10/12
I put off doing the alien base mission for a while because i figured i could just keep doing regular missions to build up some money/stock/resources. It got really f*****g hard all of a sudden and i've lost a heap of good men, like 5 col's
Posted 12:37pm 19/10/12
Stealth satellites, improved medkits and perhaps ammo conservation are useful from the foundry.
Not so sure about everything else though.

Pro Tip: Using the medkit to heal injured soldiers in the field results in no down time after the mission

As soon as I discovered this I was kicking myself for all the times I came back from a mission with unused medkits.
Posted 12:37pm 19/10/12
I find the game is very much about threat management. About 3/4's of the time my mission choice is based entirely on reducing the panic level of the highest rated mission.

Also there is almost no reason to launch a satellite at any point other then the day before the council meeting. So I build 2-3 satellites in the month and have a control center built then just spam the satellites on the Red panic level nations and bring them back under control. If at the end of the month I have spare satellites I will attempt to cover a region.

Progressing the story can give global threat reduction so it is worth while doing.
Posted 07:13am 25/10/12
Played through the game once on easy, don't see myself playing it ever again. Usually had 3 snipers, 2 assault and one support.
Posted 11:57am 25/10/12
Pro Tip: Using the medkit to heal injured soldiers in the field results in no down time after the mission. Not sure why they don't just use the medkit to heal them at base, it seems they like to make your soldiers suffer through the pain.
Armour is another factor here. Armour boosts HP by a certain amount, if you only take that amount of damage there's no down time after the mission.
Posted 09:47am 26/10/12
Yeah I'm loving my Col snipers with plasma sniper rifles; they toast aliens in one s*** from all over the map.
Posted 10:35am 26/10/12
Damned Chivalry is taking up my spare gaming time, so XCOM has been left to the dogs. I too find my Plasma Sniper Rifle equipped Snipers to dominate the map. In the zone allows the rest of my troops to concentrate on the big threats. I now only need 2 more satellites to cover the world, only lost 2 nations. I get some crazy amount of money per month, $1300 or so.

Anyway, XCOM can wait as chivalry is just so awesome at the moment.
Posted 10:40am 26/10/12
Sounds like you had the Squad Sight ability Viper?
I'd can't recommend Squad Sight enough over Snap Shot (move and shoot with the sniper rifle in the same turn), even with Damn Good Ground (+10 Aim,+10 Def) if my sniper was elevated, snap shot penalties were tough.

Squad Sight + DGG on one Sniper and Battle Scanner on another sniper are the bomb on alien crash site missions, but Disabling Shot tends to be more handy than Battle Scanner in the later missions where your dudes can get mind controlled.
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